Sunday, June 22, 2008

summer chicory and cats

I inherited my father's eyes--not the color, not the rich sherry brown; my eyes waver through the spectrum of green and grey and blue, depending upon my mood and the weather--but the clarity of vision. He was a pilot; he saw into the distance. And as a child and young woman I could make out the markings on a leaf clear across the forest, see the feathers on the tiny bird in a nest, pick up details of a wildflower. He did warn me that come middle age I'd need reading glasses. I laughed at him.

Well, he was right, of course, and these days my vision far and close is pleasantly impressionistic; I keep reading glasses at hand everywhere, and--as for the rest--well, I see fascinating things.

Like the beautiful woman in a blue, blue gown at the golden edge of the vacant lot, who seemed to be feeding the birds, clusters of happy sparrows and little finches. As Champ and I drew closer we saw--well, maybe Champ saw all along, but I saw--that she was a patch of blue chicory, bright against the whitened summer grass, high as my head, shelter for birds.

Who would have missed that? At times like that I don't care if I'm seeing the real world; I'm seeing such a lovely world.

But that may be why I had so much trouble finding the kitten.

My daughter's cat, mentioned last month, has pulled through despite all odds and is back to robust health. I caught the veterinarian, who is a somber fellow, prone to dire cautions, grinning as he watched the big orange cat happily exploring the clinic room the other day. All those nights and days of worry, all the fluid-replacement-via-needles-and-tubes, all the pills and coaxing--for once, it worked. And not just "for once". I've brought up my daughter to believe that even when people tell you something is impossible, if you care you need to go on a bit longer. Don't accept "impossible" I tell her. If I were craftier and had more time on my hands I'd embroider that in samplers, or spray paint it on walls--whichever seemed more appropriate at the time.

But, kitten...Last week a couple of the street women came to me with two kittens. The little cats had been threatened with all sorts of harm from a group of thuggish guys. As they explained this to me, and mentioned that the nice man at the market might take the kittens in, the little white one darted into the street. We had an afternoon session of "lure the feral kitten", but in the end both were in hand, gobbling a can of food as if they hadn't eaten for days.

Given their skeletal bodies, they probably hadn't. White female with blue eyes, orange male. Little girl had extra toes. Little orange boy was a larky explorer. I kept them for the afternoon and evening, until the nice man could take them home, where they are reportedly doing very well indeed.

But there were three kittens. The third one had run into the field and disappeared. Over the next days that lost kitten tugged at my heart. Knowing the condition of the first kittens, I wondered if the third could even survive. At odd moments I'd go out looking for it, calling, leaving bits of food, bowls of water. I'd hear the crying of a tiny kitten at the strangest times, inside the bookstore, where surely I could not reasonably hear it. But I did, and it tore my heart.

After three days I sat down and sent out a...I don't know, prayer, intention, thought--to the universe and to whomever and whatever protects small lost things. I said "I will take that kitten in; I will see that it is cared for; I will love it. But I'm obviously not any good at finding it, so it will have to come to my hands some other way. I'm ready".

Fifteen minutes later a puzzled woman came into the bookstore. "I don't know why I'm doing this" she said, "but--I was just walking by the field, and there's this little kitten there, and I think you are supposed to go get it. I mean--I'm sorry, this is crazy, such an imposition, but.."

I laughed. "You're right, that's my kitten" I said, and my daughter and I went out and brought it home. A vet visit for her cat was in the works only a half hour later, so kitten came along, and got the medicines it needs for eyes and lungs. I got a curious glance from the veterinarian "another patient for you, eh?". He shook his head.

We haven't named the little scrap of life; he's a Manx with a tiny stublet of a tail, grey striped, white pawed. He has my pitbull totally in terror, poor Champ gives me pleading glances of "protect me from the monster kitten" whenever the kitty walks by. He'll live and thrive. Possibly he will learn to read and be very wise and select books for customers.

Nothing is impossible, you know.

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