Shortly after I came to this morning, I found Jim lying across my upper chest with his paws resting on my right shoulder. I did not want to disturb him, so I lay there for probably another 15 minutes. He felt warm on my chest and I found comfort in his presence. I spend much more time with Jim than I spend with any human. Right now, he is sitting atop my computer tower, in easy reach of my left hand.
When I am home, he is pretty much with me all the time. If I am in the office, he is, too. If I go into the house and watch a bit of TV, in no time at all, he is sitting right beside me or on my lap. When the weather is good, we often go outside together for lunch. He provides the shrews. I decline to eat them.
It used to be that the three of us were always together... Jim, Pistol-Yero and me - except I did not take Pistol outside, as he would have freaked out. Chicago would and does join in to sleep and for naps, usually near my feet, and sometimes to watch TV, too, but she never comes into the office and we often don't see much of her during the day and she never goes outside.
So now it is pretty much just Jim and me, all the time. Margie spends her weeks in town, babysitting. Caleb and I cross paths for maybe five to ten minutes a day - if that much.
When I leave, as I will within two hours, I hate to say goodbye to Jim. There is just no way to explain. From his perspective, one day I am here and he is happy hanging out with me and then I am gone, sometimes for long periods of time and he has no idea why or when or if he will ever even see me again. Margie tells me that she can see the stress he goes through when I do not return for awhile
I often think about that day when I was in Jaipur, India, when Pistol-Yero curled up under my desk, closed his eyes and slipped away into eternity. He was always with me, too, and he really depended on me. I was his number one and perhaps the only one he recognized as his true friend. Over four weeks had passed since he had last seen me. He had no idea why. No one could explain it to him.
This will be a very short trip to Barrow. I plan to return Saturday night. I would stay longer, but I have a commitment Sunday, one that I made last August. I must keep that commitment. If things go well, then, come August and beyond, I could be spending quite a bit of time on the Arctic Slope - my second home, where I have not set foot now since early October, 2011.
I missed what was by far the most successful whaling season since we came to Alaska. There was nothing to be done about it. We were broke, could not pay all our bills, let alone buy a plane ticket and I had no job to take me there. I got calls and messages from whalers in every spring whaling village inviting me to come up and join them, but I couldn't do it. If this trip I am about to make proves successful and leads to what the folks bringing me up and I hope it does, then maybe next spring will be better and I can return to at least one of my Arctic homes for whaling season.
Something waits ahead that I got to get through first.