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Giles Snyder Column: Deep in the heart of winter

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My neighborhood may be in the middle of a cold snap, but at least it’s made it easier to get our cat to come inside.

And we haven’t even had to shake her bag of food to trick her into it.

Giles Snyder
Giles Snyder

Normally, we have trouble luring our cat Artemis indoors. After all, she began life as an outdoor cat She was a stray who showed up in our neighborhood more than a year ago and went door-to-door until she found a family of suckers (us) to take care of her.

Artemis, or Arti for short, is usually desperate to be outside. Lately, however, it’s not long before she’s more desperate to come in from the cold. And she doesn’t let any obstacles get in her way.

We don’t even have to call her, much less shake her bag of kitty chow. The sound of a door opening is enough to spark a mad dash. She scrambles from out of nowhere, easily climbs up and over our backyard fence and then quickly scales the lattice that wraps around the base of the back deck and into the inviting warmth of our house.

If cats competed in the Olympics, I’d send her to the games in Rio De Janeiro this summer. She’d be a shoo-in for a medal in the hurdles.

She’s an amusing kitty.

My wife and daughter insist on calling her Artemis. I simply call her Little Cat to distinguish her from our other cat, Skitty. We generally call her Fat Cat. She rarely misses a meal.

Until now, I saw little use in naming Artemis or any cat for that matter. They never come when called. And Arti still wouldn’t if it weren’t for this cold snap.

Artemis isn’t the only one at our house trying to stay warm. My wife has been wearing so many layers for her morning walk with our big dog Rodney I worry that she won’t be able to get back up if she falls down. Even our kids are wearing more than their usual T-shirts to school.

Rodney, however, is the exception. He likes the cold. When he isn’t annoying the neighbor dog who lives on the other side of the backyard fence, he finds a bright spot in the winter sunshine to stretch out and relax. I’d haul my favorite chair outside for him, but I need it. I’ve got a busy nap schedule to keep when I’m not obsessing about my Jedi beard..

Before this week’s deep freeze, I was considering trimming it. Now, I’m torn about whether I should make it more socially acceptable to non-Star Wars fans, or keep my chin from freezing off.

On one hand, why grow a beard in winter if you’re just going to trim it when the season is as its coldest?

Plus, it’s a good conversation starter. And, I might need that this weekend. My wife and I have been invited to a neighborhood dessert party.

The hospitality of neighbors (but mostly their desserts) should keep us warm.

Then again, a good trim might make a decent Valentine’s Day gesture.

My wife would welcome the change. And there’d be less risk of embarrassing her in front of our neighbors when a little cheesecake gets stuck in it.

This Valentine’s Day weekend doesn’t need to get any colder.

Giles Snyder lives in Martinsburg with his wife and two kids. You can follow @GilesSnyder on Twitter, find him on Facebook or keep up with him through his blog at






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