We’ve been snowed in on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Canada, for most of the week. It’s been colder than I can remember it being in 30 years of living here, and there’s nothing like being cooped up inside with the cats, my sweetie, lots of goodies, and a ton of creative antsy-ness. I’ve been longing to get back to my Quadra Cats stories; there have been other projects diverting my energies for far too long now. So I thought I’d just do a little seasonal illustration. Then I thought it needed a story to go with it, and I was too lazy (and it takes too much time) to draw a whole comic of the story I wanted to tell. So here’s what happened:
It had snowed in the night. Tux nosed his way underneath the living room curtains and hopped up onto the wide sill, where he was quickly joined by his sister, Jazz. All night they had heard the soft rustle of falling snow, and it was still coming down.
“Jazz, let’s go out and catch some flakes!”
“I don’t know, Tux, it looks pretty cold out there.”
“Come on, you can always come in if it’s too much for you.”
“Says you—you’re the one with the long fur!”
Tux sat up straight, his ears alert. “Oh hey, look! Here comes Scatcat!”
“Handsome. We’ve got to call him Handsome now. That’s what Madame calls him, and he likes it.”
“Whatever. He did say we could call him SC. Come on, let’s go!”
Both cats ran for the door so fast they collided at the flap. After a brief scuffle, Jazz slipped through first, Tux tumbling out behind her only to watch as Jazz skidded on the icy layer coating the porch, catching herself with her claws just before she could go flying off the steps.
Tux shook himself and proceeded more cautiously. “Wow, it’s really slick out here! Hi SC!”
Handsome leapt through the snow like a fox that Tux had once seen on a nature show. The snow was up to his shoulders, but he didn’t seem bothered at all. His leaps carried him to the porch steps and onto the porch, where he shook off the snow.
“Hi you two,” he said. “Have you you seen Alien Cat around lately?”
Tux twitched his tail in thought. “No, come to think of it. Isn’t it nearly Galaxy Day?”
Jazz said, “If I did the calculations right, I think it IS Galaxy Day. I hope he didn’t get hung up in a nebula or something.”
Handsome looked up at the dense, leaden clouds, and the snowflakes swirling downward. He stuck out his tongue and caught one, then said, “I think we should start the celebrations without him.”
“But Galaxy Day is all about friends, and how friends have each other,” said Tux. “How can we do it without him?”
Handsome’s whiskers curled forward in amusement. “I have the perfect plan. Come out here and help me!”
Tux looked at Jazz, and gave a head to tail shrug. “Sure, what do you need us to do?” he asked.
“I got the idea from Madame’s grandkids—they went out this morning and started rolling balls of snow. They showed me how! Come on, here’s what you do.”
Tux watched as Handsome’s big paws scooped out a bit of snow and patted it together, then rolled it around to pick up more snow. Enlightenment struck. “It’s like playing with a ball!” he said. “Come on, Jazz, let’s try it!”
All three cats rolled balls of snow, until some were so big they needed all three of them to push. At Handsome’s direction, Tux got under the second biggest ball and lifted while the others pushed it on top of the biggest. Then they collected the smaller balls and began arranging them.
At last they stopped, huffing and puffing, and surveyed their creation. Tux cocked his head critically and said, “I don’t know, it still needs something.”
Handsome said, “What? I think it’s a pretty good likeness. Look, we got the shape of the suit just right!”
Jazz whipped her tail back and forth. “I know! There’s just the thing on the coffee table—I’ll be right back!” She sprung away toward the house.
Tux and Handsome looked at each other. A few moments later, they heard thumping and thunking as Jazz tried to drag something through the cat flap.
“It—won’t—fit!” came the muffled cry from within. It sounded like Jazz had her mouth full.
Tux heard the sound of human footsteps approaching. Moments later, the door opened, and the humans, all kitted out for the outdoors, were helping Jazz with a heavy glass globe with a festive red rim, full of multicoloured candies.
“We were just going for a walk. What’s this all about?” said Ramón.
Rosa pointed at the yard, tugging on his sleeve. “Look, honey, it’s a snow-cat! She turned to the cats. Did you guys build this?”
Tux wove around the humans’ legs soaking up warmth while Jazz answered. “Yes we did — Handsome showed us how! But we thought it needed something extra, and I thought of this, and… I’m not in trouble, am I?”
Rosa bent down to stroke Jazz. “No, of course not, you didn’t even break or spill any of it. But I don’t quite get—”
But Ramón had already poured out the contents of the globe into an empty flowerpot, and was making his way over to the snow-cat. He turned it upside down and set it carefully over the snow-cat’s head. “Like this?” he asked.
Rosa clapped her hands. “Oh, it looks just like him! You clever kitties!”
Tux trotted over to the flowerpot and carefully picked out a purple gumdrop with his fangs. He carried it over to Ramón, and looked at the globe. “ca oo ick ig ah ig ed?”
Ramón held out his hand, and Tux spit out the gumdrop. “What?”
“Can you stick that on his head? You’ve got to take the bowl off first.”
Rosa came over. “Of course! His spots! Here, I’ll go get the rest.”
The humans joined in and made a face with liquorice pieces (which Tux thought smelled vile, but they were going to be under the bowl) and put some more purple gumdrops around for spots. Rosa brought out a scarf and some fancy toothpicks and tape.
At last Ramón ceremoniously placed the bowl back over the head of the snow-cat, and everyone stood back to admire their work. Just then they heard a hum from above, and a light pierced the clouds as a familiar saucer shape descended, extending spider-like legs as it landed on the roof. Big lumps of snow slid off the shingles as the landing paws took hold, and everyone held their breath until everything stopped moving. At last a hatch opened on the belly of the saucer, and Alien Cat descended gracefully on the levitation beam to gently land next to the small group.
“Hello!” he said, “Sorry I’m late! I got hung up in traffic—everyone in the Galaxy wants to visit Takeout Planet now! The orbital tour office is swamped! Hey, what’s that behind you?”
The group parted. Alien Cat’s mouth fell open and his eyes glowed as he saw their creation.
Tux said, “We couldn’t have Galaxy Day without you! But you weren’t here. So we all made this to remind us of you until you got here.”
The three Earth cats wound around Alien Cat, purring and rubbing fur on fur. The humans waited for Alien Cat to come to them, then gave him a hug, and to his delight, a good scritching behind the ears.
“I’m really going to have to get a Primate or two of my own, I can see!” he said, wriggling with pleasure. The humans laughed.
Tux asked, “Is it time to have Galaxy Day now?”
Alien Cat smiled with his whiskers and perked his ears. “It is indeed. I have a saucer full of takeout from all over the Galaxy! But first—you have to show me how you made this marvellous artwork. And let me take a picture for Spacebook!”
Later, full of exotic takeout from planets they had only heard of, Tux, Jazz, and their humans watched as the saucer took off in the direction of Madame’s house, giving Handsome a lift home to help deliver Alien Cat’s presents to the kittens.
As Rosa and Ramón walked back inside, Jazz said, “That was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. Imagine, a picnic in the snow! And I’m not even cold!”
“That’s what Galaxy Day is all about, I think. It’s easy to be warm when our hearts are.”
The two cats snuggled in the shelter of the porch and purred with contentment, looking out at the little family of snow-cats and snow-humans glowing in the warm lights from the house.
I hope you enjoyed this story! If you would like to know more about the background of the Quadra Cats, they have their own site as a webcomic, which you can find here. And you can find the story of Galaxy Day here, which coincides nicely with our winter solstice holidays on planet Earth (AKA Takeout Planet).
If you enjoy colouring, or know some folks who do, here’s the black and white line drawing version; feel free to download, print, and colour away! Both the black and white and coloured versions were drawn in Procreate on my iPad Pro using an Apple Pencil.
Wishing you all love, light, and happiness in this solstice season, whether you are celebrating winter or summer, and any of the myriad of holidays across this big planet of ours with which we humans celebrate this liminal time.