The sun is barely rising over the mountains, streaks of camellia pink and clementine orange just lighting the sky. The night turned bitterly cold as we slept and now I have my toes warming by a space heater we found in the closet. A steaming mug of Bengal Spice tea scents the room and I watch out the window as the cats begin to stir awake. The refuge awakens slowly and I can hear the voices of the workers as they get ready to begin their day.
I shuffle D awake, handing him a streusel muffin and some tea to get him moving. He’s set to help clean cages in the compound before the visitor center opens and then head over to help out in the quarantine area. While he’s slowly coming awake and stretching not so unlike the cats out our window, I hear the crunching of gravel on the road outside. A huge Dodge truck with a long trailer is being pulled into the back habitat area. Unpretentious, its only marking is a small web address on the back end of the trailer. Not fancy or fussy- just a truck meant for work. It’s being readied for a rescue. Workers will be traveling to Little Rock today to obtain a new animal: Thor, a show lion. It would be nice to come back in a few months and see how he is faring.
I send D off to work and decide to go ahead and walk through the compound. The wind is biting and no amount of layering seems to help…even the animals are avoiding it as only a few are out and stirring at this hour. Several, in fact, are still curled up sleeping. The water bowls attest to the temperature change: many of them are frozen solid and having to be chopped out for fresh watering this morning.
Everyone is friendly here and knows me and M on sight. I haven’t seen D in a few hours now but every person I meet tells me where he is and what he’s up to. I catch a couple of glimpses of him and when he gets a break for hot cocoa to warm up, I give him my jacket to try and help him keep warm. Once his duties are done for the day, we go to check out while he joins the public tour. He’s determined to get one last look at this favorite animal – Loretta- before leaving. As luck would have it, she had stretched out right on her fence in the tiniest bit of sunshine she could find so he had the change to tell her goodbye.