It already feels like spring – the peaches are blooming, summer seeds are sprouting, the potatoes are planted, and a few days ago the last of our mama goats kidded, and had twins!
It’s been so busy, and there is so much to do in this nice weather before the summer heat makes everything slow down. For the first time since Clothilde was born, I am finding time to care for the orchard. It has been trimmed back (it was getting seriously wild in there), and the weeds are scythed down. Composted hay and manure is being forked on, and the trees are getting a little sprinkle of wood ashes. The blueberries are being cleared, and a wild plum that had aggressively grown up all over is getting trimmed severely back. Pineneedles are being raked up from the forest and carted over to mulch around them.
We had one of those frustrating days that often happen in the midst of busyness. Everything suddenly seemed to get lost. The whetstone for the scythe went missing, and one of my snath handles fell off and lost itself. I mislaid the cap to a bottle, and the best kitchen knife. The tape was missing (although not so unusual – Mirin is always wandering off with it), and I couldn’t find Clothilde’s nightgown. Rose couldn’t find any socks, and she had a hurt toe that needed bundling. Worst of all, our beloved kitty of many years disappeared.
Teasel has been the family cat from before my children were born. She is a beautiful calico, and has a very funny, quirky personality. She is adored by all the children, and was remarkably patient and tolerant to all the terrible cuddling she has endured from them over the years. We recently brought her out to live at the farm, knowing how much she would love it out there with the barn’s small rodent population, and all the hay in convenient sunbeams for napping.
We were a little worried about the transition, but Cloud Bear, our Pyrenees guard dog, is supposed to keep all the coyotes away, and Teasel has been known to be very fierce with dogs, even very large dogs. So far, Teasel had thrived. After the initial shock wore off, she seemed to shake off the weight of her 14 years, and stopped napping her usual 20 hours a day. Instead, she was up and about, prowling the barn and climbing trees.
One morning, she failed to show up at her usual time. We looked, and called, and waited, wondering if she was sleeping somewhere. Since she never comes when she is called anyway, her lack of response did not indicate any alarm. However, when the morning turned to afternoon, and the afternoon to evening, and there was still no sign of her, we all became very worried. All of us combed the 40 acres, which was horribly reminiscent of when April’s kid disappeared recently. There was no sign of a kitty – no sad mewing, or even shreds of calico fur. Cloud Bear was the only one who remained annoyingly cheerful – everyone else was crying and worrying.
That night, everyone felt awful. I was so upset about what could have happened to her – was it a coyote? I imagined the cold, gleaming eyes bursting out of the darkness in her last moments. Or owls can sometimes get cats – I could just see her crouched in the garden, listening to a small rabbit rustle in the ryegrass, when death struck suddenly from above. Or was she hurt/sick/suffering somewhere? It was terrible to think about. I felt physically sick and heart broken. She had been a part of my life since I was 18. I couldn’t imagine our life without her. I was angry at Cloud Bear for not protecting her, upset that we had brought her out in this wild place, and bothered that she had been so silly to wander so far away. I kept thinking – maybe she’ll come back….and then the realization of the unlikelihood of that would hit me.
Painfully early that morning, Clothilde, who’s nickname is “Terror of the Dawn” went outside. I heard Cloud Bear’s tail thumping excitedly to see her. I heard Clothilde’s little voice say, “Kitty, you came back!” followed by a piteous mewing squeak. I jumped up and ran outside. There was Teasel, skulking away from Clo’s grabby little hands, and looking pathetic. I snatched her up in my arms and cried. Everyone came out then, and we passed her around, all of us had tears in our eyes to see our kitty one more time. Teasel, of course, was highly annoyed by this. She smelled of someone else’s house, like a stinky air freshener. We put her in front of her dish and fed her the last can of her favorite expensive wet cat food, which she ate most of, but she wasn’t terribly hungry. She was more bothered by everyone’s reaction to her reappearance than anything else.
Later that day, we found everything we had been missing, one by one, and everything moved forward with relief.