Kate Flora here. Actually, I am across the pond, exploring the battlefields of Normandy, but I didn’t want all of you to feel neglected, so here is something from my mother. She’s been gone ten years now, but because she was a writer, and I have some of her columns, her book, From the Orange Mailbox, and her unpublished memoir, I have many chances to connect with her still, and see the world through her eyes, as she watched it from her hilltop farm in Union. The following explains how my mother came to have her giant orange cat.
Einstein is asleep inside the paper bag at my feet. An hour ago she was catnapping in the bring-in-vegetables basket. This orange fur ball seems to alternate between energetic racing, climbing and pouncing upon objects (bare feet and shoes with loose laces high on the preferred list), and suddenly sleeping. The expression “drops off to sleep” has new meaning as I watch the kitten.
This addition to my household was not intentional. I’m still saying “temporary addition.” Last year, when my nearest neighbor was adjusting to a death in the family, I told her that she must learn to ask for help, that it made people feel good when they knew there was some specific thing they could do. Then I added, “Call me if you need help.” I was ready ton lift, carry, shovel or provide transportation. I wasn’t expecting a call about kittens.
Myrtie, my neighbor, had found two kittens in her field, probably dropped there by one of those individuals who attends church every Easter, talks about good works, and thinks that kittens, like tigers and cougars and other cats, can surely take care of themselves in the wild. Or, more likely, an individual who doesn’t think.
As an animal lover, Myrtie couldn’t leave the little creatures in the field, but her two dogs regarded the kittens as unwelcome intruders, or possible dessert. A couple living on the pond took one. My granddaughter persuaded me to bring the other one home. After all, hadn’t I told Myrtie that I was ready and willing to help? A kitten would be nice to have around when the cousins, Jake and Max, arrived. Because this was such a smart kitten, it was named Einstein. We’re not sure yet whether it will be Albert or Alice. Maybe Einee. But here I am, definitely a dog person, with a fluffy, big-footed orange kitten in my house.
Over the past four decades, many cats have lived on this farm. There were barn cats and cellar cats and the children’s pets. Once they named four newborn kittens Nancy, Nancy, Nancy, and Nancy, and explained that then if you called, “Nancy,” at least one would come. They had Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, and The Sheriff. Alas Poor Yorick, Rapunzel, and Bill Keene (named for a nice man who let the children climb up and sit on his new dump truck.)
I look at Einstein’s inquisitive blue eyes and her big furry feet and think of Ogden Nash’s verse: The trouble with a kitten is THAT eventually, it becomes a CAT. Am I borrowing trouble fretting about stumbling over a cat? Growing too anxious listening to a friend describe the behavior of her ex-kitten now going through a teenage phase?
The paper bag is empty. Einstein is investigating the crawl space behind the desk and comes forth with cobwebs between her ears. I remind her that she’s a temporary addition to my household. She climbs to the top of the wing chair, curls into an orange ball, and purrs. Does that translate into, “Let’s wait and see?”
The cat outlived my mother, found a new family, and finally shuffled off its furry coil at the age of 23.