Thursday, June 13, 2013
Growing up we were not a cat family, we were a dog family. Even in the Army years when we didn’t have a dog (bringing a dog back to England from Europe entailed Rabies shots and 6 months in solitude). We were always the first to offer if anyone needed someone to ‘look after’ their dog when they were away. That said, there were always cats, these were inherited ‘outside cats’. In the early 70’s when we went to look at the Clarendon Hotel in Chale (Isle of Wight) before buying it, we were told that Flanagan the cat came with the Hotel. There he was, this huge tabby with a white front lying on the kitchen window sill steadily watching us. The kitchen window sill was his home, he never went anywhere else inside. Sometimes he would disappear for a couple of days and then out of the blue he was back, sleeping soundly. It seems to me we must have kicked him out at night. But then again this was the 70’s another time. We did not lock all the doors; car keys were left in the ignition. So chances are the window was open 24 hours for him to come and go as he pleased. Someone else in the village had his brother Melksham. Flanagan was not exactly a sitting on your lap purring cat. Ginger at the Folly Inn, I assume you can all tell she was ginger in color. She was not there when we first lived there, but when we moved back she was. At some point she had appeared and was pregnant, had the kittens who were really wild. Pam and Allan Cundall had trapped them, taken to the vets, Ginger was spayed , the kittens found homes for. Ginger was an outside cat. Goodness knows there was enough mice and rats along the river and woods to live on. We gave her saucers of milk and water that the hedgehogs shared. Once Simon turned his bedroom light off at night, Ginger would come in and sleep at the end of his bed. Leaving little gifts of mice etc for him to step on in the morning. On 100th street one summer a stray cat had kittens between our building and the one on 99th street. We saw them as tiny blind babies, people left food for the mother. My favorite image was that in the rain the kittens would lie on top of each other, stacked like sweaters in a closet, on a windowsill staying dry. In Harlem there have always been an array of wild cats. The men on the corner feed them as kittens. For a brief moment that first summer I got concerned. I called various city agencies and vets. All of whom told me they would spay the cats and kittens and re-release them back into their territory. But I had to trap them and bring them in. “Do you have a trap I can use?” I asked, I thought not unreasonably. “No you will need to use your own” Aah, yes, every New Yorker has a humane trap kept handily in their minute apartment! The cats are short lived, 2/3 years at most. It must be very rough out there for them. They get injured, torn ears, broken limbs, scars all over. But they do continue to breed. A couple of years ago there was a mottled black and brown litter. The mother had them under some abandoned wood, in a garden at the back of our old apartment. About three survived. Last summer, one day, I saw a pair of tiny mice running excitedly through our garden. I said out loud, “We need the occasional visit from one of the wild cats.” IAt the end of January when the weather changed for the worse, I would catch a glimpse of a black and tan cat, leaping the fence once it heard the rattle and thug of the giant bolt being pulled back. She had somehow found a safe dry place among the stacked empty terracotta flower pots, plastic bucket, the put away summer garden, where she spent the occasional night. The garden was bleak and empty, so she had nowhere to hide and catch a bird. I have seen no more mice, but we now have a regular cat. Spring arrived. There were now places to hide and catch birds. We lost a dove and a couple of sparrows. As best I could tell by the tell tale signs of small piles of feathers. I worried this would become a problem but the birds were learning too. One night in April I heard that certain yowl of the cat in heat. Instantly I thought we will have kittens soon then. Sure enough in the last few weeks she has been slower moving from being disturbed, pregnant, sleeping soundly between the climbing hydrangea and the fence, with the ferns covering the entrances. Years ago in Wolfenbuttel there was a pregnant wild cat one summer that we as children petted. As she got grew in dimension, everyone said “Stop touching the cat. Whoever touches her last on the day she is giving birth, she will have the kittens in your house.” Who knows where we heard such things.. Simon did. Somehow the cat got in around lunch time; early afternoon, Simon heard a sound coming from his wardrobe. He opened the door, the cat was in his lego box with the new born kittens. In those days no one was outraged when you drowned unwanted kittens...... But were most concerned about the Lego!
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Sunday, June 2, 2013
These baby Beets were delicious. I love them grated raw in a salad or slightly steamed and peeled. Pop in the mouth. Young turnips tonight!! Lovely strawberries. We've picked 4 from our plants!!! Heady Peonies