Little Cat Feet

Gandalf and I stepped out into the deep grey mist; he blended in beautifully and while the fog wasn’t so dense he disappeared at the end of his leash, his edges did blur a bit. This is the least-foggy place I have lived but my Pavlovian response to seeing it remains intact; without fail, the phrase “the fog comes on little cat feet” pops into my brain. And then I think of third grade and Mrs. Hembree and choral readings and how we presented that poem. She had us say “little cat feet” in high squeaky voices and when I am old and demented that is probably what I will mumble over and over, so kids, don’t be worried.

I was fortunate to attend elementary school in southern California when education was cutting edge and for almost three years Mrs. Harriette Hembree was chief goddess in my life. Lest you think I had to repeat a year twice, she moved up each grade with her students and third, fourth and fifth years (until we moved) were splendiferous. She woke up my brain and my mind and became the yardstick by which I measured other teachers, both my own and my kids‘.IMG_0323

When we moved far away (both geographically and through a time warp) the remainder of fifth grade was spent in a quonset hut where we shared our space with the sixth graders. The teaching was not memorable; punishment for dinking off in class was to be made to copy a page out of the dictionary (I think Russell D. had his own edition of Webster’s by the end of the year) but everything else was; we were loaded into the “cattle car” to be taken to the mess hall for lunch (while singing Love Potion Number 9 at the top of our lungs) and our playground was a field of boulders, some as big as VW bugs. We made forts and running paths through and over them and completed (most of the time) magnificent leaps from rock to rock. Later that year we moved to the new school with a cafeteria and conventional playground; I always missed the rocks.

But I digress.

By the time Gandalf and I circled back home the mountains were still socked in but if you look at the top of the photo below you can see just the barest hint of blue sky; the fog layer was moving on. Carl Sandberg pegged it.

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The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on. 

 

 

Rescue Me!

He was found in a barn; no mom, no litter mates, just a persistently cheerful ball of fur. The people at the barn didn’t know where he came from, either, and when he was still there the third time she arrived to ride the deal was sealed; she was taking him home.

He was a pot-bellied, tabby-ish, white-socked little guy and the first stop was at the vet. Aside from probably having worms and surviving on a minimal diet, he was healthy. With the vet’s stamp of approval, he arrived at his new home, good-natured but a little shaken after shots, lab work and worming medicine. In spite of being raised in a barn he had impeccable litter box habits and was a smart, jolly little bugger. Kitten cuteness aside, he had an exceptional personality, a living lesson in resiliency and enjoying every moment. It was going swimmingly until he met Inside Cat.

Inside Cat was well-loved in spite of having such subtle personality traits it seemed he had none at all and the appearance of the kitten produced a reaction the depth of which had never before been witnessed by his humans. The kitten (now named Gobbi) was not going to be able to be an inside kitty at her house. OK….how about being a barn-only kitty? No, he had just been rescued from full-time barn living. Several days went by and Inside Cat did not return to his usual state of ennui; Gobbi must find another home.IMG_0309_2

He was on the verge of going to the no-kill shelter when I ran into one of his humans in the grocery store, heard the tale and saw the photos. I have thought for the last two years that Pippin (the sweetest, most social cat in the world) would require other animal companionship once Gandalf passed from this realm and when the time came I would get another cat. Gandalf was still hale and hearty and I only went to the store for eggs but it seemed I would come home with a kitten. Ummm…..well……OK. It felt right and I resolved to let it marinate for a day or two before making the final decision.

I awoke the next morning knowing that this kitten was too remarkable to be put into the New family photoadoption pool; he would come to my house. I wasn’t sure he was really meant to be mine but I hoped so; it had been a long time since kitten antics graced my home. Phone calls were placed and Gobbi (now named Merlin because he *magically* appeared) arrived. Rebecca was ecstatic and I was tickled. Gandalf The Ever Patient let Merlin bounce around him. Pippin was disinterested; this was getting off to a good start! It seemed that enlarging my family by one small life was in the cards.

We spent the next day enjoying the show; bounce, skitter, somersault, race across the floor and skid to a stop. Stalk and kill all the fluffy balls. Again. Careen around corners and slide into Gandalf, leap tall footstools in a single bound. Well, maybe two single bounds. Snack, drink, litter box, repeat. Catnap and sideways kitten hop; it was a day filled with laughter and not getting much of anything else done. That night he slept with Rebecca and she reported that he hunted bedmice in the wee hours. She changed his name to Tigger because he was so bouncy and he reminded me of Linus from “Peanuts” so at last he had a formal name: Tigger Linus Wholam, also known as ‘TL’.

With the bestowing of The Name came the ghost of a sensation I thought no longer existed. I have spent the last several years trying to put my life back together and welcoming Tigger Linus felt….new. Forward-looking, not just picking up debris. Participating in something starting from now. New legs. Air in my tires. Wind in my hair and bugs in my teeth. Hope. And I was able to feel it because I opened my life to a kitten.Wore himself right out!But I digress.

The next day began much as the previous day had ended; rowdy. Tigger Linus sidled over to the cardboard scratcher and went to town on it. Cardboard flakes flew and the noise woke Pippin from his first nap of the day. He instantly morphed from this:into this:

Lordamighty, Pippin! Did you not notice him until now?

I scooped TL up and Pippin stormed outside to sulk. This pattern would be repeated several times over the next few days and doubt about what I had thought was the right thing to do started seeping in around the edges.

A week elapsed and Pippin actually stepped up his anti-TL campaign. Gandalf stopped eating; he is a sensitive soul and whenever there was hissing and surliness he averted his eyes, pained at the display. TL made the best of the situation and remained good-humored and cuddly, counting on me for the right choice about his future. Since I had no clue as to what that was, I asked the Universe and a few days later it came to me.

I have a friend at work who, in the last couple of years has lost her old cat, her old dog and her not-so-old husband. Squince, her remaining dog (and one of the most extraordinary beings I have ever met) was now her only housemate. We had often talked about our animal families and life’s vagaries and there it was: TL belonged to her; he just had to come through me to get there. I sent texts and photos and by the end of the day it was arranged; Rebecca and I would deliver TL to his forever home.

New family portrait

Time flies when you’re having fun and here we are, two weeks later. Pippin is Gandalf’s and my best friend again. TL has yet another name….DoeDoe…..after his soft brown eyes. He and Squince play and nap together and one day his Momma tried to describe to me this unfamiliar sense of optimism that had come to her life along with the kitten. Yes, I understood this completely…..finally, after a long dry spell, some rain in the desert.

Who rescued whom?

Who rescued whom?