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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pussy Willows and Cats






The pussy willows are kittening out near the creek.  Pussy willows remind me that a favorite book I read to my son Donovan when he was small was Pussy Willow by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Leonard Weisgard. 


 The the cat in the storybook looks somewhat like our cat Geordie. 


Geordie was my birthday present when he was 5 months old – that was six and a half  years ago in Laramie.  It’s taken him a long time to come into his own.  He was a lousy mouser as a youngster.  Now, up here in Idaho he has a mouse de jour  - the pasture surrounding the house is full of them.  He eats the entire mouse, from ears to tip of tail, on the porch where he’ll be seen and appreciated.  I suppose his rationale is, “I catch it . . . I eat it.”



Now old Blue (part lavender point Siamese, with blue eyes), who was one of my mom’s cats here on the place and once was a famous hunter in these parts, still catches a mouse occasionally.  He also brings it up on the porch, but eviscerates it, eating everything but the lungs, heart, stomach, pancreas, kidneys, guts and bladder, neatly spitting them out on the porch.  I don’t ask why.  No doubt, his reply would be,  “I’m a gourmet . . . not a gourmand.  It’s how I’ve always eaten a mouse . . . and other small game.”  For many years (he’s about 15)  he was top cat on this place. Whenever another young cat adopted Mom (and she had 8 when we moved up here to care for her), Blue would beat it up just once  to gain its respect.  Otherwise, he was a peaceable cat.  He is still a grand cat and always accompanies us on our walks on these 66 wooded acres, but the hills have become steeper for him and he’s slowing down.  He has diabetes and needs an insulin shot twice a day and gets glucosamine for arthritis mixed in with his food every morning. One of his front legs has a slight tremor in it.

And that brings me back to Geordie, the young gun, who doesn’t know about Blue’s reputation, and who wants to be top cat here now.  He swaggers; he bullies old Blue, reaching out to smack him when he comes into the house; getting a clawful of white fur off him; taking over his favorite spot on the couch, or in the sunshine on the porch swing.  Blue hunkers down – not really cowering – but making it plain that he’s retired his “guns”and isn’t looking for trouble.  But I say to Geordie, “Don’t push him too far . . . you don’t remember him when he was young and fast . . . but I do.”  

3 comments:

  1. I love your phrase "kittening out"! And the Brown/Weisgard books are favorites of mine too. It was fun to read about your cats. The past five months are the first time in my life that I have not had a cat and I miss them.

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  2. "Kittening out" is certainly an evocative phrase to be envied. I enjoyed the whole piece, mainly for its realistic but caring tone.

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  3. I wish I were original, but my mom always described the pussy willows in her letters as "kittening out."

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