Mother nature has more surprises in her bag of tricks than we give her credit for. I interviewed Mike for a school assignment after he'd received an eagle (a dead one) which is a high honor to use in ceremonies. Mike is a Chippewa who helped me use nature as a form of therapy.
I walk a short distance on our country road and into the woods each morning. I stand quietly in the same spot, and wait, as Mike taught me how nature would help and present me with a gift of knowledge or sometimes a surprise. My gifts included watching a herd of deer relax under the pines, baby bunnies frolicking in a wild raspberry thicket, and a long Blue Racer sunbathing on a rock. Once a beautiful hawk feather fluttered to my feet! I left it, as it's against the law to take them, but I'd come to recognize my 'gifts' from nature.
This day was the most meaningful, but instead of standing, I sat on a large hollow log because worrisome family issues and health problems pushed me down like a heavy, calloused hand, sapping the energy right out of me like a dry sponge. I began to throw myself a pity party as a sound from behind grabbed my attention. Something rustled around in the leaves and made quite a commotion. As Mike taught me, I slowly turned so I wouldn't scare my 'gift' away.
A small leaf pile rustled around as if it had a life of its own! Next, a tiny black animal popped out, followed by two more. They were kittens! I was used to seeing black squirrels, they belonged in the wild, but kittens did not. I sat on the soft, mossy log and waited. It didn't take long for them to notice me and stare back. One sat on his haunches like a lemur, and I couldn't help but laugh, which sent them racing back to their leaves. I remained quiet, and eventually, they returned and moved near me. One climbed up the leg of my jeans and sat on my knee! The other two were close by.
"Where's your Mama, little ones?"
A second kitten climbed me, and the third rested against my boot. I stayed still and asked for guidance while counting to one hundred to help me remain calm and figure out what to do. Mike taught me this natural relaxation technique because I am not a patient or calm person.
The kittens stayed when Mama came out from behind a tree. She meowed louder, then almost growled, and they ran to her! I was sure someone dumped them because they weren't afraid of humans. I returned home with a live trap and two cans of food. Gato was our latest porch kitty, so I had plenty.
The little family was where I'd left them. I watched them play and tumble on the log where we'd met. Mama lay stretched out, sunning herself in a patch of grass nearby. I sat on the ground a couple yards away and put an open can between us. As my Gran used to say, the kittens" were on it faster than ticks on a hound dog!"
Another sound came from the pines, and I tilted my head and listened, but it didn't repeat.
The kittens played in and around the empty can. I knew they'd die out here as they wouldn't know how to find food or escape predators like feral cats. I held the trapdoor open using a string. I wanted them all inside before I closed it. Mama went in, sniffed, drank the water I'd poured into an empty can, then laid down. The kittens followed. I let go of the string, and the door closed, which didn't phase them.
As I listened for that sound again, a fourth black kitten came out of the leaf pile! I tried to pick him up, but he hissed and ran into the trees. I followed, keeping him in sight, and again heard the sound. It was a person, and I recognized the voice!
“Margie! Help. Margie! Over here!”
It was my elderly neighbor, Angela! I saw her red blouse as she lay on the ground! I ran to her, forgetting about the fourth kitten.
"Angela! What on earth are you doing out here? Are you hurt?"
She said," My hip hurts, but mostly I'm just embarrassed, like that woman on the commercial, 'I've fallen and can't get up!' "
"Don't move. You may be injured and not feel it yet. I dialed 911,"
"Margie, I pulled my car over and tried to catch a kitten by the road. I couldn't let the baby out here alone! But I tripped, and down I went. I'm so glad you are here!"
"Me too! Here, take a sip of water."
She scrunched up her sweet apple doll face and said, "Cooties," which made me laugh as she took a sip."
"No Cooties, silly! This is a spare bottle for my other rescues."
"There's a mom and four kittens! One led me to you!"
"Oh, that's so great. I was so worried about that kitten. Poor babies."
I have to say that our township has the best fire and rescue in the state and has awards to prove it. Several camping areas are near us, so we have the equipment and experience for our four-thousand permanent residents. The ambulance arrived within minutes, and two EMTs checked Angela's vitals and helped her onto a gurney. One asked, "Why, Miss Angela, have you been frolicking alone in the woods again?"
"Why yes, I have!" she said, making us all laugh. She's in her late seventies and very active in the community, still living in the house where she was born in the 1930s.
I waved goodbye, then returned to the cats, where the fourth kitten waited for me on top of the cage! Our vet told me they were all in good shape, only a bit dehydrated.
Angela was up and around in no time. She promised to get a cell phone and never go into the woods alone again.
That day, my gift was learning how quickly you forget about your own troubles when busy helping someone else!