Frankie Valli & Phoenix – Part II

DSCN1401The sun set, and with it came a sinking feeling.  I looked around at the field where I had spent the day grazing.  I looked at Frankie, who had kept close to me throughout the day.  I looked at the evening sky and felt a longing I had never before felt.  I looked toward the road I had traveled earlier that day, and I walked toward it.  By the time I reached the fence, I had the momentum and force to press through it effortlessly, toppling the wooden post.

Frankie watched in disbelief, his head swiveling from me to the fence and back again.  He took a tentative step beyond the fence line, thought better of it, and turned back into his pasture.  As I rounded the bend in the road, I looked back at him one last time, his face a portrait of disappointment.

I retraced my steps from earlier that day, taking my time.  A car came up behind me, slowed, and followed me from a respectful distance.  At the bottom of the long hill, I turned right and then left toward my home.  I stood in the yard and peered in the kitchen window waiting for someone to notice me.  The people who had followed me knocked on the door and my family emerged, talking all at once and laughing.  I was home.DSC_0669

A few days later, we repeated the journey up the road to Frankie Valli’s pasture.  My people told me that I had to stay this time, that I would come to appreciate Frankie, that they would visit me.  Being philosophical and ruminative by nature, I decided to take this in stride.  I settled into life with Frankie.

When the chilly autumn wind swirled the leaves into the sky, the calf that had been growing inside me since the winter began to stir.  In early November, my baby boy was born.  Life is good.

Frankie Valli & Phoenix – Part 1

DSC_0679He’s a steer who was named for his breed (Jersey), and his gender (boy).  They dubbed this Jersey boy Frankie Valli.  Because his people find it odd to holler “Frankie Valli” across the pasture, and because he trots over to half that name, he’s just “Frankie.”

I’d heard my people talk about him, this young, comical, undignified steer.  The creed of cows is this: We turn slowly toward points of interest.  There’s gravity in our movements.  We study things ruminatively.  Frankie does none of these things.

I’d heard people talk of their plan:  I was to be moved to Frankie’s place.  I thought: nope.  People are peculiar.  They’re so industrious, always in motion and transporting things here and there, driving from place to place and back again, and talking, talking, talking.  We cows stand in the pasture and eat and observe.  Who is the wiser species?

The day came when they slipped a halter over my head, and a parade of people walked me away from my home to Frankie’s.  Walking at the center of the procession of children and adults, I enjoyed the view, gazed at the hills and the yellow and purple flowers dotting the meadow, and listened to the clip-clopping of my hooves and the people’s softer tread.

At the pasture, they set me free.  Frankie lifted his head at my arrival, pulled his neck back in disbelief, then gamboled over to the fence that separated us.  He kicked up his hind legs and danced.  I was not impressed, so he tried harder.  To settle him down, I strolled over and touched my nose to his.  This calmed him, and we walked along our respective sides of the fence together.

When the gate opened I went into Frankie’s pasture.  He playfully put his head down and pushed against mine.  Not a good idea.  I pressed him into walking backwards.  Once I’d made my point, Frankie behaved, and we passed the rest of the day grazing on sweet grasses.DSC_0663

When the dimming of the day came, I began to miss my family and the comforting scent of my barn and kin.

to be continued

Part II – I Was Born on an Amish Farm in the Middle of Winter

DSC_0131For part 1:

The man and woman said thank you to the people, talked to me kindly, and we left.  As we moved along, I saw a flash of gray fur streak across the field and into the barn.  My brother.

They took me to a family who adopted me.  There were new smells and places to investigate, and two kids who cooed, named me Mr. Bean, and almost never put me down.  Best of all, there was another cat, Gracie.  She looked like a paler version of my mother.  I walked over to her, excited to have her company.  She pulled herself up to her full height, narrowed her eyes at me, and took a few aimless swipes.  The people scolded her, scooped me up, and held me.  They commented on how sweet and docile I bean 1-27-13

I divided my time between being held, trying to make friends with DSC_0174Gracie, eating, and sleeping.  I slept a lot because even though I was happy and warm, I didn’t feel all that well.

The vet came to the house and sat on the floor with me, prodding and poking me, which I did not appreciate.  She told my people I had worms and gave me foul-tasting pills.

One morning I woke up and felt different.  The sun came blazing in the window and my body felt alive, so I tore around the house like a maniac.  Gracie took to high ground.  I paused, mid-stride.  It occurred to me that she was a wonderful, large target….DSCN2609

to be continued
For Part III:

The Raleigh Dama

raleighI was born under a porch where I nestled with my mother and siblings in the cool, shaded dirt.  We stayed put when she left each night; she didn’t tell us to do so, but she made it clear somehow.  We weren’t inclined to wander anyway—there were odd sounds at night beyond the latticework that separated us from the world.  So we chewed on each other, and climbed on top of each other, and silently curled around each other, awaiting her return.  She came back before first light.  We nursed happily and slept.

One morning there was commotion outside our hideaway.  Our mother stepped in front of us, tense.  There was a wrenching sound, then the latticework fell away and sunlight streamed in.  A man and woman stooped down and peered at us, making friendly little sounds.  My mother, wary, moved toward them, her thin body silhouetted against the glare.  She sniffed their hands then allowed them to pet her.  She turned to us and meowed, and we came to her.  The man gently scooped all four of us kittens up at once in his arms and placed us in a crate.  He called to my mother, who looked at us in the crate, glanced to the side toward freedom, looked at us again, then climbed into the crate.  We pressed against her body on the jostling ride.

We came to a place of meowing cats and barking dogs and talking people.  A woman carried us to a cage in a back room.  Another woman draped our mother across her shoulder, petting her, and brought her to join us.  There was a bowl of water, into which I dipped my nose and sneezed repeatedly.  There was a bowl of food that my mother ate, all at once.  There was a soft blanket on which we slept and passed the time together.

People came and went—tall people and little people, high voices and low voices, kind hands that pet us and fed us.  My mother grew less boney.  We grew bigger.

An older man came one day, white haired and angular.  He opened our cage and petted each of us with exquisite tenderness, then the spoke to our mother.  They regarded each other for some time, as though something was passing between them.  Before he took her away, he held her near each of us.  We touched noses with her, and then she was gone.

Two days later, two of my siblings were adopted by a young couple, and three days after that, my remaining sibling was adopted.  The cage had a lot of space to move in, but I missed the sense of belonging and deep comfort that came from my family’s nearness.  The people who cared for me were kind, picked me up, and spoke to me, but mostly they were bustling about caring for so many cats.

At night the shelter grew quiet and peaceful.  The moon came through the bars of my cage, bluing the floor and my black fur.  In its soothing light, I slept deeply.

One day a woman came and paused before each of the cages.  I liked the way she moved, like a blade of tall grass in the wind.  She lay her open palm against the door of each cage and talked softly to the cats.  When she came to my cage I stretched my arm out toward her and blinked slowly—the language of cat love.  She asked someone if she could hold me.

When the door swung open, I walked into her outstretched arms, settled in, and reached up and touched her face with my paw.  She laughed, a lovely, silvery sound, stroked my fur, and said something to the shelter person.  I went home with her.

Sometimes I dream of my mother and siblings, a far-off memory now.  In my dreams each of them has someone to love.

Some have the mistaken belief that shelter cats aren’t adoptable, that they’re in the shelter for behavioral and other problems.  Generally this is not true.  Cats land in shelters because 2% of lost cats ever find their way home… because unscrupulous owners abandon them…because their people die…. Please consider adopting from a shelter.  There are 70 million homeless cats in the U.S.

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