Wednesday, June 05, 2019

happy families

Happy families are like happy gardens: they take generations of confidence and effort to grow. They don't just happen. A flower grows strong because it is made of the right material to thrive. It is much the same with young ones: they are born trusting, or not trusting. You can't assume that they will embrace your love. Sometimes you have to spoon feed it and even then, they may not have the ability to let trust take hold. They resist, because generations before them have resisted. This is what they know.

I'm talking about feral cats of course. I have no great wisdom to offer about people families! Happiness in kids is much discussed in literature and the consensus seems to be that it's a complicated business!

Back to gardens and cats: it's to be a hot one today! Strong storms passed through last night, but they did not clear the air. Quite the contrary -- they ushered in heat. Summer heat that feels like it will stay with us now for the next several months.

Does the combination of moisture and heat speed up the flowering of perennials? It does! Walk with me through the garden in the early morning, when the drops of rain still cling to the peony, the clematis...

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... when the brightness of the sun hasn't yet undone the gentleness of the garden's colors...

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But not for long. It's Wednesday and so Sparrow is with us!

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Happy guy! There is no question -- no deep analysis needed. He is content.

We eat breakfast on the porch. Ed comments that the demise of the huge walnut by the house (it died this winter) has taken away some of the morning shade on the porch. As a result, if you are seated facing east, you're going to squint.

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Afterwards, I take Sparrow on a little stroll through the garden. There isn't really a place for him to sit.

("I don't feel very stable here, gaga!")

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Every blade of grass is still wet after the rains. Ah well, I carry him around, showing off the deepest pockets of color. Flower power!

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As we are about to return to the farmhouse, I see a quick movement by the door.

It's Tulip, our Main Coon kitten.

Except, of course, she is no longer so small. (Was she ever small?)  We were sure she was gone, if not shot by the neighbor then on her own, navigating the wilderness, perhaps overwhelmed by all that can harm her.

Tulip is still desperately shy, though not as skittish as Dance or even Stop Sign. I have Sparrow, so I cannot really approach her now, but Ed and I put food in the bushes where she is hiding and eventually she comes to eat it and even lets me get within a few feet of her. I see that one of her eyes is fogged over. She looks basically scared. Dare I say, unhappy?

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And this is what leads me to think that these cats, who have lived with fear all their lives, who have been born with it and have had it reinforced by their mama cats, cannot easily give it up, even if a cat whisperer were to come by and speak reassuringly to them all day long.

There was a time in the coldest months of the winter, when Stop Sign would lie on a blanket strategically placed in a sunny spot of the garage and her kids would snuggle next to her and I thought -- now that's a happy family! When Tulip was born and came to visit, I believed she'd always be around, joyously reassured by our calm demeanor and the never ending supply of cat food.

Foolish thoughts. We can do stuff to make these cats less likely to succumb to illness. We can offer a calm environment. There is little else we can give them and each day is a surprise as to who will be here and for how long.

When Sparrow wakes from his nap, he and I concentrate on indoor play.

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School pick up time!

Dare I say it? It's hot outside! (A statement reiterated by Snowdrop, who once again wants to scurry inside, where the old farmhouse walls provide much needed cool relief.)

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Snack? All cool things: cherries, watermelon and... ice cream!

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We were to go swimming. Perfect weather for it. But the pool is closed. I take Snowdrop home where she is ever hopeful that I will stick around and learn a game that's a new family favorite (Outfoxed, a little like Clue, only it's everyone against the wiley fox!). I do.


In the evening, Ed is out on his Wednesday night ride. I tend to the animals, thinking all the time that the chickens are, well, chickens, and the cats are wild, and wouldn't it be pleasant to have goats who like to nuzzle you when you come over to feed them. (Our cats alternate between hissing at each other and meowing their dissatisfaction at us when they don't like the timing or content of their meals.)

As I step outside to take out the trash, I see that Tulip is here. She's become a hisser too. Facing me, she looks fine, but looking at her from the side, I see that she is matted and weather-beaten. And of course, her eye looks damaged. She has had a rough two or three months of life.

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I asked Ed to make a final call on the goats. He can't do it. "You want them so much..." he'll say. "Not if you don't want them..." I'll say.

The night is calm and beautiful. We munch popcorn later, much later and we do not talk about goats anymore.