Luigi is no-nonsense. With two large black spots on his back and a half butterfly over his lip, he easily fools you into believing he wants to be fussed over. He does not. A formidable presence, he alone is permitted outside unattended; for which I seethe with envy.
Most embarrassing secret: A little brown bear - He totes it around and 'loves it' when he thinks no one is watching.
Uncle Keaks is very mannerly. Never crowds you when you're eating. Always gives you a second chance to revisit your bowl before honing in and devouring whatever morsel is left. My Own says he doesn't eat, he plows.
Squeaker's intelligence is profound. His demeanor calm and submissive - but to a point. He guards the pantry door like a soldier. Keaks acts like a sloth most of the time, but can burn out like a race car driver.
Most embarrassing secret - Squeaker 'pretend nursed' until he was around 5 years old. A Milksop! (just kidding).
La-di-da! I say. Personally, I would rather “feel” the bird than “see” the bird. But that is another subject.
Close to home, our life lists are the same. We have seen a flock of horned lark one cold, dismal winter when fields were long blanketed. For once and only, this coy little flock ventured close to seat and feeder. It was a magical sighting!
One fall, a bird as big as brother Tiggy stumbled upon our deck. A rarefied moment where 'crazed' does not begin to describe our cat emotions! My Own frantically thumbed the blue bird book. “Chukar” came for several weeks; then vanished. Likewise, the pheasant that crossed the road using the drain pipe for safe passage.
Each summer, the red-bellied woodpecker and flicker feed reliably on suet cakes; the ruby-throated hummingbird, in an endless loop, stops at the feeders every few minutes. When heads form on catnip, goldfinches ride the tops back and forth as they peck out the seeds. Sparrows of every sport – white capped, song, house, chipping, pore out of the landscape. Finches hide in the bittersweet. Mourning doves coo from the eaves. Mockingbirds do impersonations.
Heralded by red-winged blackbirds, spring arrives and birds take up residence in the most unlikely of places: a house wren’s dwelling in a grocery bag, or a barn swallow’s nest assigned with perfect engineering sense, mud and straw over the spotlights. Nestled in trees and bushes, birds blossom, their perfect homes hidden until autumn's passing.
Only then did My Own find the tiny nest lined with the blond hairs of Clyde, our departed canine friend. It is a treasured relic. Clever things these birds to make nest and memory in one fell swoop!
Swoop! The very word reminds me why birding is a favorite pastime.
in the middle of the fight
through the thicket, fogging strife-
the chorus sings with cricket rife and
cattails swish the pestly sight.
water lilts ands shimmers bright
by the moon’s incessant light-
while the nighters whisper fright
whimpering with appetite.
mighty lies the jawing bite
stealing breath, airing tight in
lifting with the music’s smite-
echoes ring amidst the blight.
in the night.
My Own exhibits a paradoxical confliction when forced to recognize this inexplicableness. Certainly, I admit we cats do not help. We find pleasure in sniffing out mice, waiting and pouncing on them. We ‘play’ with our prey. We toss. We lightly hold them between our paws and wait on their attempted escape. One of us truly relishes (Relishes!) the chewy bits – tail and feet. Perplexly, she’ll praise us for the dead trophy; but scold us for enjoying a well earned gnaw!
Though My Own prefers these little beings remain afield, she knows they seek out warmth in winter. She just doesn't want to know they are about. Unfortunately, if we do not restrict our pleasure to the veiled night or basement and if she comes across our pleasure, it is game over. Many a time, she has interfered. She catches, then releases, our tired prey back to the field. She is so naive. Mice home!
Alas, we cannot change our nature nor can she. Nor can mice. It is winter…game on!
There’s a whisper
On her lips:
Even as the darkened silhouettes
Of trees - their limbs, branches laid bare -
reaching up towards Unseen arms,
She comforts the trees
and self with
When snow cradles the lifeless
Limbs and blankets the world,
In memory of leaf, flower and fruit
And He appears;
In spirit and frosty form
Through the whisper
Escaping from her soul.
In fall and spring, the fragrant dirt lays bare to my special indulgence. There is nothing quite so enthralling as a good roll in the dirt; rubbing, blanketing my face and whiskers with its smell. Sweet earth!
After a long winter entombment in snow, dirt proves more intoxicating than catnip. In spring, My Own, bowled over by cabin fever, cannot wait to disturb the soil. It is a happy ritual for us both.
But for now, autumn is at the door and I must make as many dirt memories as possible. Winter is traveling swiftly towards us and, once it arrives, time will crawl. In winter, we will all but forget the forever-promise of spring; of Persephone waiting in the wing of the Netherworld. But when the earth melts and Persephone purls upward, I will be the first one out the door!
Multiple seconds are, without a doubt, a confirmation of a cat’s lofty status and importance to the universe. The more the seconds, the higher the position. But, I digress. Back to the naming of cats.
First, is the “everyday” or common name. Whilst the second name is a particular and singular name; the third, well, only the cat himself knows this.
For the cats lodged within my abode, here be our names.
Second: Peegeemouse, Meejamousie, Dawg
Himself Knows: *************
Second: Tiggamousie, Tiggums, Tiggerlie
Himself Knows: **************
Second: Keekerwee, Uncle Keaks, Peekapee, Meekameeks
Himself Knows: *************
Second: Didapolls, Nolliepolliemon, Nolliemouse, Pollieness!
Himself Knows: His Royal Feline-niferousness of Catnip Row, Verge & Verdant Climes: Eminently Noll the First
I also believe God sends to those whose soul needs special lifting, something more. For those with empty places, lonlieness or furry loss, God sends "kitties from Heaven." I know this. My brother Tiggy and I were such kitties.
Nothing escapes me....nothing. It is always my full intent.
The tiniest fleck on the floor, the mole crawling through its grassy tunnel, the downy feather caught on the rough stem of a coneflower, a flittering, fluttering butterfly. Sight, sound, smell all come to me unfettered. I acknowledge and welcome them all.
In the world beyond the kitchen door, I gather the sights, sounds and smells to me and find pleasure in their being: the peepers cheerily clinging to trees; the chickadee scolding me for sitting too close to the bird feeder, the breeze wafting scents of catmint, earth, strange cat markings, mice and moles.
My Own takes cursory note of these same sights, sounds and smells. But she often disappoints me when her breaks to ‘be’ are shortened by a hasty return to weeding and watering. My crossed, rolling eyes, colored like a crisp autumn sky, always make her pause; but never long enough. My Own has yet to learn to stop in the manner I have perfected; and lay on the grass luxuriating in the blithe symphony that is nature.
I have my work cut out for me.
Are there not gods watching us from moon mountains
or hidden greenly in the leaves we touch,
when grass is crushed
by shoddenly-winged feet?
And are the birds not oracles:
sibling summers, springs, riding sweet
as sylphs living on air?
Then, do we not dare
look to where
the gods sit:
on ivory white thrones set deep
in an azure stone setting
and become Hellenic?
Drifting past countless Aegeans
that flux through our veins
keeping us from shore-stepping -
gracefully in a half shell with dolphin reins -
After our wombing seas;
To wonder the greater mystery
of ourselves, and of flowers,
lose their will.
Photo courtesy of D. Ruda
Gone are the humming bird and its whir. The leaves are turning red, yellow, orange, and rose blush. The air smells more interesting now.
The chipmunk works fiercely; gathering millet, sunflower seeds, apple slices and peanuts as quickly as they are put out. I know where one of his holes is – in between the violet patches. He knows I sometimes sit there with my nose inches from the opening. Still, I stare down it hopeful. Mostly, my stares elapse into catnaps.
I’ve yet to spot the wooly worm. So, I cannot say if a hard winter will follow the unraveling of fall; although, the chipmunk is certainly compelled. Perhaps he has glimpsed the dark bands of the wooly worm and the thin brownish-red stripe has filled him with purpose.
My Own has gathered up the faithfully tended cabbages, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, onions, corn; the orchard’s pears and even the mottled apples. Herbs, catnip and flower seeds have been dried. My Own was compelled like the chipmunk; though, she too, has not seen. She believes in the Unseen and knows the unraveling of seasons is the prelude to all things.
when i heard
like the springing
a baptismal mist
and the nautilus
knew my name.
into that other sea -
From the Sea Liloquy Collection by Kareen
Copyrighted, 1979, Image, 5th edition