Cuddles, our tortoiseshell kitten, lifts a paw to the kitchen’s sliding glass door. Her ears twitch. She extends her neck as starlings gather in our bare maple tree. Her jaw trembles in cat chatter.

“I know what you mean, Cudds,” I say with my hands in dishwater. “It’s been a long winter.”

P.J. and Mo, our previous mousers, spoke the same language when bird sighting. I find this instinctive predatory muttering quite amusing.

Mittens, our Siamese, doesn’t yet talk to birds. She’d rather make mischief, play catch and release with tomato vine stems, sometimes for hours. Mitts is interested in practicing her snaring skills—pouncing on Cudds or anything that moves.

That’s one reason why I stopped feeding birds when P.J. lived with us. The other reason? Deer, of course. One winter a doe walked away with a feeder clenched between her teeth. What talent.

A year ago today, my husband and I drove in a snowstorm to Ann Arbor and back for lunch with old friends.

“March is still winter in Michigan,” Mel repeats.

Right on schedule, after months of ice and snow, hunger for my homegrown honey catches in my throat. I remember the few golden, sticky summers I drew off, extracted, and bottled over fifty pounds of pure goodness.

I haven’t since seen comparable traffic of honeybees, legs laden with saddlebags of amber pollen while the chickens scratched under the white pines nearby.

The 2019 Bee Order Form sits on my desk. For all my failures as a beekeeper, I may as well throw away the cost of a package of bees and a queen. However, we sometimes spend more than the bee cost on a week’s groceries. Our farm needs bees like it needs our hens, I reason. Mel and I need them too. We hope for another golden and sticky summer.

Indeed, our kittens have these and many other outdoor attractions awaiting them come spring. Great escape artists, I anticipate they won’t be rushing into the house come sundown.

Yet, they are attached to Mel and his siesta after lunch. We’ll see what happens with that habit.

Mel and I discuss what to grow in our vegetable garden. Again, he says, “We don’t need all that squash. It takes up too much space.”

Again, I say, “I love butternut squash soup.”

“We need more beets, and red and yellow onions,” he says.

“You’re right.”

I ordered Fedco organic seeds some months ago—lettuce and beets new to my raised bed and vegetable garden. I do appreciate a healthy harvest.

If the weather doesn’t foil our herb group meeting for the third month, I’ll pick up my seed order from Seven Ponds Nature Center March 13. Meanwhile, absence makes my heart grow fonder for my Earth-loving friends.

Dear Reader, I rest in our chicken chair with Cuddles and watch the starlings gather in the maple tree. At this moment, we’re entirely cured of cabin fever.

Mittens is another story.

Email Iris at