It was -10°F. this morning.
I stopped in at the feral cat colony to give the critters a Christmas treat. They all have their thick winter coats now. I just have to flick the ring on the sardine can and they start to appear. They circle around me, never getting closer than four feet, but they're not afraid—they know why I'm there—just careful. Their winter existence is based on being careful; they have to eat, but also need shelter, they need to watch out for coyotes and dogs, to respect the dominant cats, and not get hurt climbing. When the snow is wet they walk carefully, in existing tracks as much as a possible, to stay as dry as they can. After I finish dishing out the oily sardine chunks I quietly walk up the hill a bit, they don’t care about me now, my function is complete. They slink from one serving dish to the next, checking for a missed crumb, and then carefully wipe the oil from their whiskers. Then they disappear, one by one, until, like Alice’s cat, only my Cheshire grin remains.