Morning Sanctuary

As I posted previously, every year my family would make the drive down to Tennessee to visit with family. For most of the trip, we stayed at my great aunts house that had at least a window air conditioner in the kitchen. Since we always went to visit at the beginning of August, it was always hot and sticky down there and the window air conditioner gave a tad bit of relief from the heat. I am also a lover of animals as you may have figured out by now and would do anything for my own pets.

My great aunt (Nanny) and great uncle (Papaw) had a dog and a whole lot of cats living on her farm. The cats on the farm were all strays that somehow found their way to Nanny and Papaw’s house. They had a building that Papaw cut a corner off of a door, so that the cats could get in and be safe from any wild dogs running around. Nanny put a plate of food and a bowl of water in the building for the cats to eat something if they needed to. Every day Nanny went out to put out fresh food and water for the cats, and when we visited; I got the job along with gathering eggs and feeding the chickens.

Nanny always named every single cat that came to live on their farm; no matter how long it stayed. Sometimes, the cats stayed for just a couple of days and sometimes they stayed for years, but they always had a name and she knew them on sight. Sometimes they would leave and return a month or two later, but she always knew which cat was which.

One cat that stayed for years was named Tom-Tom. He was a beautiful yellow and white cat, but could be really mean. Tom defended his territory and was good at it. Tom wasn’t the type of cat that you just reach down and pet. Doing that would get your hand swiped at, and he had sharp claws. 🙂 He was always around, but resisted petting. He’d even take swipes at Nanny and Papaw. Papaw would just tell him “To git on out of here”.

I mentioned a dog, and while I don’t know how they came to have Bo-Bo, I know that they had him for many years. I believe Bo-Bo was a large shepherd dog. Not German though.

Bo-Bo was kid friendly and would protect any kids to the best of his ability. When I was outside, Bo-Bo was right there. If I stood still, Bo-Bo would sit in front of me. Of course to get there, when he sat down he’d knock into you and just about put you on the ground if you weren’t ready for it. I remember going to Nanny’s and being excited to get out of the car because Bo-Bo was right there to greet you. Basically, the whole time I was at Nanny’s, I had a shadow. 🙂 I miss Bo-Bo.

At Nanny’s there weren’t any air conditioners in the bedrooms, so you slept with the windows open. During the night, the fog would settle between the mountains and cool it off outside. Every morning the sun was up in the sky way too early for summer vacation. Of course as soon as the sun would come up, the rooster would start crowing. The rooster woke me up everyday. I have no idea how mom could sleep through it.

One summer when we were there, I would actually get up when the rooster crowed. My dad was already up and chatting with Nanny and Papaw and mom was still snoozing. I can’t remember how old I was (probably 10-12 if I had to guess), but I did this for a few years until first Bo-Bo and then Tom-Tom died. I asked my dad if I could go outside knowing that he was very likely to allow me to do so. He always said I could. He probably thought I was playing in the yard, but I couldn’t do that or I would risk the wrath of my mother who liked her sleep.

The first time, I did this; I had no destination in mind, but just kind of wandered out into the field. I had two companions: Bo-Bo and Tom-Tom. They simply joined me. Bo-Bo was in the lead and Tom-Tom was following me. We walked out to the edge of the property where you could see the other mountain and I realized that the fog was still in the valley. I sat down in the tall grass to watch the fog rise.

Bo-Bo was lying right behind me, so that I could lean on him and pet his head. In his older years, I didn’t lean, but simply petted. Tom-Tom the first couple of days simply laid next to me. I would chat with the two of them asking questions like what was their plan for the day and just talking in soothing tones. On the third day, Tom-Tom crawled into my lap and took a snooze. This was so out of character for him, but I figured he needed the sleep and felt safe in my arms. It was probably one of the few times that he didn’t feel the need to be on alert. I could pet him to my heart’s content during this time. He even let me rub his belly which was a sign of full trust.

We would sit in our morning sanctuary and watch the fog rise out of the valley. It was very peaceful out where we were. The only sounds we heard were the sound of the land. There were no people around, and if anyone had come close to where we were, I knew that Bo-Bo would let me know. The fog would slowly rise leaving behind the beautiful trees and farmland that was just waking up when the sun finally made it through the thick fog.

Once it fully lifted, I would tell my companions that our time was up and that we should check back in. Tom-Tom would rise up and stretch and get off my lap. Bo-Bo would yawn a sleepy yawn that said lets stay a little longer. We would start our trip back to the house. Once we got close, I would ask if they wanted to race. They would happily agree. Tom-Tom always won, and I came in second. Bo-Bo was always more interested in staying back with me than in winning the race. As soon as we were back at the house, I had to be careful to not overstep my bounds with Tom-Tom. Once Nanny caught me petting him and said “You better be careful! That cat will bite you!” Tom-Tom and I just looked at each other and I swear his eyes twinkled at me like we have a secret.

I enjoyed my peaceful mornings with Bo-Bo and Tom-Tom. I like to believe that they remembered me from year to year because the following year I did the same thing and had the same companions. Tom-Tom never hesitated after that to crawl in my lap and Bo-Bo always came along. In his older years, Bo-Bo was stiff in the mornings and our walk took more time, but he always came on his own. It was always his choice as I never said “Come on! Let’s go for a walk.” I think that is what made it so special. We were three beings who wanted to be together.

Now my dad knows where I went on those mornings. 🙂 And even more importantly mom knows that I was out in the field alone with two protectors. Dad will be in trouble…sorry dad. 🙂 I bet you don’t even remember those mornings. And to mom…you know Bo-Bo would have protected me with his life and plus out there…nothing can happen to you! 😉