laura packardSomething is in the air.

               And given the buildup of frost as thick as my boot heel on my car windshield the other morning, it sure isn’t spring.

               It all started a few weeks ago when our marsh cat Otis, a.k.a “Fatticus Rex” or simply, “Fatty,” as we call him, finally achieved what he has been trying to do since we adopted him: escape.

               Now, I’m not sure if it’s the dog who drags him around by his ear, feet and tail or the call of the wild, but as soon as the front door opens, he’s out like a shot – or more like a furry, fuzzy, 50 lb. ball of pent up frustration.

               Usually, we chase him. This is probably poor parenting, because he really kind of gets a kick out of the four of us, including the dog that torments him, making weird sounds and throwing treats at him while crawling around on all hands and knees next to the air conditioning unit.

               This last time, though, out of desperation – oh, and a 7 pm dinner reservation – we let him fend for himself.

               As if I wasn’t feeling bad enough about leaving the “little” guy out in the cold, I get a text on the way to the restaurant from one of my daughters back at home.

               “Mommy where is Otis??”

               Two seconds later.

               “Mommy where is OTIS!!!!!!!”

               And then to drive her point home, she followed up with 10 emoticons in varying states of distress.

               Here’s what I texted back: “He ran outside. Bring food to porch, shake bag, and pour into bowl.  He will come.”

               Sure enough, all it took was for her to open the door.  To say Fatty knows where his Fancy Feast is buttered is an understatement.

               So, to my surprise, not two days had gone by and a similar situation unfolded right by the very same front door. Only this time, it involved one of our two-legged creatures who, up until now, I couldn’t pry off my legs, back, arms and feet.

               “So where are you going to go? You don’t even have on a pair of shoes let alone enough money to get something to eat,” I say to one of my daughters as she grabs for the door handle.

               Now, I am not sure what got her in such a state to run away with only a book bag filled with glow sticks and a pocket-sized flashlight to guide her.  Was it the dog she was supposed to help wash, litter box that was to be cleaned, or was it a call from her sister from the other room saying she just erased the whole season of Pretty Little Liars from the DVR?


               I couldn’t be sure because she blew past me, a whirling 110 lb. dervish of apricot lip gloss, green apple scented shampoo, and a pair of vineyard vines pajama pants with little whales all over them. I didn’t go after her.  She’ll come back.

               I guess I just assumed she just wanted to get out of the house for a while.

               Don’t we all?  I took one look at my laundry pile and dirty dishes stacked in and around the sink and silently prayed for a divine intervention, one of those giant cardboard checks made out from the Publishers Clearing House so I could fly somewhere warm, or a nap… whichever came first?  Beggars can’t be choosers, after all.

               What is it about this time of year when we’d rather be any place but where we are?

               Is it cabin fever, a lack of proper sunlight or a meaningful holiday? How come it seems we have reached a breaking point where we are all getting on each other’s ever last nerve?

               Why do we want to run away and come back when everything is warm, and flowery, and candy-colored pink?

               My daughter didn’t stay out on the sidewalk long. I don’t know if it was because she was cold or because I opened the door and silently held out a Little Debbie Zebra Cake and her iPad. But in she came.

               We downloaded a movie, had a snack and folded laundry. 

               And we thought of spring and all its possibilities . . . cart wheeling through sprinklers in our bathing suits, skipping barefoot in thick, green grass chasing butterflies, sitting cross-legged in the warm sand building a castle piled high with muddy drippings, planting bulbs in rich, dark dirt and watching them bloom, rocking on the porch with a good book and a cold drink, glancing up every once and awhile and saying a silent prayer because we are here and alive and beautiful, in our own right, every single one of us. . . . and all of a sudden we felt a bit calmer.

               Spring will come. It always does.

              Like the pull of the heart to the place where it’s anchored, it won’t take long to show back up, knocking on our front porch, asking to come in. And as we always do, we will open our door and, thankfully, let it all in.