We hurry across ploughed yard, scuffling rapid and clumsy in velvet and polyester padding, till we reach the door. Inside, mellow, golden light from ceiling bulb mingles with crimson ray of heat lamp. The homemade delivery suite, equipped with old blanket, towel, pillow, contains our sought-after treasure.
This one who watched and waited for swollen bellies to empty, who embraced and wooed batch after batch of yellow and blue-eyed fuzz balls into friendship; this one who grieved and cried for little ones lost or starved or hit by the milk truck, now caresses wriggling helplessness. These hands, that petted and brushed and scrubbed, applied ointment, stroked friends into purring contentment, now they touch ballooned milk bellies of the newest ones.
In all the books of memory, this has never happened, these kind of friend born on our farm. She cuddles one to cheek, to ear, and he whispers questions, happiness, and love. He whimpers from exposure to cold, and she tucks him into velvet warmth. He quiets, and I know he is smiling. She gives the best hugs.
Of all the ones she has loved: the best friend for sixteen years; then the one she picked from frisky litter; now this one, this music in winter, ebony hair dancing on the white snow. And now we’re given these six treasures of the frost. Black and chocolate, with marshmallow smudges, they squirm and nuzzle and grunt happy in the red light.
How many male? How many female? How will we give them all away? But for now we just enjoy. We listen to their rumbled baby talk. We giggle and exclaim and laugh. We oooh and aaah at the miracle. We shake our amused heads to think of the sire, running eighteen miles through ditch and coulee and fence to visit—five times he came, and now, this.
We marvel at life in the cold. Then we must leave, over the yard on hopping toe, scurrying into warmth of house and fireplace and homespun quilt. We know mother and pups will be safe overnight. God made it so.
And I think I see a twinkle of heaven’s smile in the setting sun over the shed. Here, in the bleakness of our shivering winter, in the deepest part of our half-year cold spell, He makes life. This pup-now-mother tries our patience with her bounding energy, stubborn defiance, and whacking tail. But He gave her life, and made her bear life.
And doesn’t He do the same for us? Calling, catching, stroking, taming us again and again, just because He likes to have us near? He could leave us wild and devilish, but He comes and finds us, and woos us into the warmth of His embrace.
And I wonder what I’ve missed out on, all these years of not being kitten tamer or dog trainer? And I think she, the one with the scars, has more pleasure than I can imagine in this new life.