Black cat in the forest

Sadly, Big Calm lost an important member of the community recently. Our beloved Norwegian Forest Cat, Buddy, passed away peacefully on the very last day of summer. Not only was Buddy a truly special and loving old soul, he was both inspiration and validation for our moving from the city to build a life in the Kootenays.

Buddy had the full cocktail of kitty ailments, and we almost lost him in Winter 2019. But upon moving to the Slocan Valley several months later, he burst to life. This Thanksgiving, we’re grateful for every one of the 2457 days we had with Buddy and for these nine simple profundities – life lessons – that he reminded us of during our time together…

Two humans and a tuxedo cat in the woods

Balance – One of our goals with moving closer to nature was to recalibrate our relationship with screens. As remote workers, we spend a lot of time on our computers and phones. Buddy found this boring and would remind us that, even on those dreary and chilly days, it’s good to get out, move around, and breathe some fresh air.

A black cat at a desk peeking over a laptop screen

Seize the day – Once Buddy discovered the great outdoors, he couldn’t get enough of it. The forest was in his nature and, like a dog, he’d beg us at every opportunity to go explore it. We’re convinced that Buddy lived months, if not years, longer than expected because of his pure enthusiasm for each new day.

Be curiousBig Calm is a large 30+ acre property and having an on-leash feline as a tour guide turned out to be an amazing way to explore it. Our off-path adventures helped us to learn the topography, encounter hidden mushrooms, and come across plants and berries that we wouldn’t otherwise have seen.

A black cat on leash explores the foggy forest

Observe / notice – Whether it was birds, squirrels, garter snakes, grasshoppers, or chipmunks (especially chipmunks!), Buddy would happily sit and observe their various activities for hours. Observation and active listening are superpower skills – both practically for permaculture and spiritually for presence and gratitude.

Black house cat on a window sill looking out at nature

Stop and smell the flowers – It’s cliche but it’s true.

A black house cat smelling a bright yellow flower

Make friends with trees – Often on our walkabouts Buddy would approach individual trees and stare up at them in acknowledgement. It wasn’t to climb or hunt. It was something else; a sort of kinship with these stoic elders. In a way, it felt like he was paying tribute to each of them.

A black and white cat outdoors looking up at a tree

Hug the ones you love – The stereotype of cats being aloof and uncaring most certainly did not apply to Buddy. From bonks and cuddles to squeaks and unbelievably genuine hugs, he loved to love. If he saw you approaching during a walk, he’d stride briskly toward you. When you’re happy to see someone special, make them feel special.

A cat lovingly hugs a man

Sleep like nobody’s watching – One of the first things we noticed upon moving to the Valley was how deeply we slept. Many Pocket Getaway guests have mentioned the same thing. Ask any cat: good sleep is very important.

Black house cat taking a nap on an outdoor screened deck

Find your sunbeam – Buddy would hide out in dark nooks to sleep but whenever the opportunity presented itself, he’d happily trade those spots for a ray of sunshine or the warmth of the wood stove. There is lots of wonder in this world and, even though it seldom lasts for as long as we’d like, it is ours to cherish for the moments when it finds us.

We buried Buddy in a beautiful spot in the forest where his chipmunk friends play and a warm afternoon sunbeam regularly peeks through the trees.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on the snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there; I did not die.
––Clare Harner