Your Moment in the Sun

By Icy Frantz

If I had to choose, I would say I am a dog person.

We have three enormously treasured four-legged furry friends in our family right now. They are big, often covered in Long Island Sound sludge, and two of them possess an extremely loud bark. They like to roam the neighborhood when they escape the imprisonment of the electric fence, and they are susceptible to ear mites and ticks. One of them failed dog training bootcamp, and another was let go from the Good Dog training class.

But still, their loyalty is unwavering, and we love them dearly.

We have had others over the years, dogs that invoked similar feelings. Most notably, Budman was in our wedding. Skyscraper raised our children. And we have sat inconsolable at their bedsides when their lives on this earth were nearing the end.

We also own two rescue cats who were discovered in a dumpster in Scalzi Park in Stamford. And while our kids consider the dogs the varsity team and the cats junior varsity, the JV team adds a different kind of value to our home. Our cats are vastly different from their canine housemates, and I am amazed at how much they teach me by how they live life on their own terms.

Unlike our dogs, our cats are slow to warm up to strangers; they would not welcome you with a paw and a slobbery kiss at the front door. In fact, they would probably run and hide until you had earned their trust. They will not love you without thorough examination.

As such, my relationship with our cats has developed over time. And although it may be based on bottom scratches (theirs, not mine) and smelly breakfast treats, it is not unlike many of my deeper relationships, those that have grown slowly and safely through experience, give and take, and ups and downs.

Sometimes when we are relaxing in our family room at the end of the day, our cats will swagger in – with an emphasis on swagger (and if you own a cat, you probably know what I mean). They literally walk like they own the joint (and in a way they do). Their head is held high – for no apparent reason – and they give off an air of complete and utter confidence.

Because for the cat, it’s all about attitude. And frankly, it’s a good reminder to me that I get to decide how I embrace the day – and how I strut.

And while our dogs have an innate amount of kinetic energy – constantly moving, needing, fetching, and running, until they drop exhausted in the evening – our cats are content to lounge and do nothing all day long. They are never bored.

It is not unusual for me to find one of our cats sitting and staring at the wall. What are they looking at?

Perhaps they are noticing the details of the molding, or the fact that the wall could really use a fresh coat of paint. They are appreciating the minutiae, and I don’t think it is a leap to imagine that they are living in the present – not worried about the past or contemplating the future.

But the characteristic that I admire most about our cats is how they are able to find their moment in the sun.

Our dogs are completely unaware of and unbothered by the weather. They will go outside in a hurricane, torrential rains, or a heat wave. It doesn’t seem to concern them.

Our cats, on the other hand, will contort themselves – climb high and sometimes low, curl up in a ball or stretch out their limbs – just to experience the one beam of sunlight peeking through a window. And then with a look of pure ecstasy on their faces, they take it all in, for everything it is worth, and relish in the warmth.

I do not think they understand the significance of sunlight. Medically speaking, UV exposure boosts vitamin D levels (which account for numerous health benefits) and increases the brains release of serotonin (which is associated with better mood and focus). So, the very act of chilling in the sun is beneficial.
Our cats own their moment in the sun. They are not shy or humble but are rather boastful and eager to show the world their achievement. They do not settle for a cloudier spot upon a chair or bed.

And as every day is not blue skies, they are not frustrated waiting for the return of the sun. It will come.

And we can delight in our moments too. Working towards them, creating them, climbing high and sometimes low, and then savoring them with complete abandon.

I love that feeling of the sun on my face on a cold winter’s day, and then instinctively lifting my head towards the heavens. As winter turns to spring and that sun grows more abundant, and the flowers bloom and our dogs get muddier – and our cats more superior – I hope we will find our moments in the sun too, and when we do, relish in the warmth.

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