Yes. It’s true. Puss was in my garden again today. Entered stage right, padded purposefully past the tomato rows (as in that Vito-buys-it scene in “The Godfather” –my great discovery this year was that tomatoes will grow and grow and grow right up to heaven if you stake them enough and give them enough water. And, of course, enough sun. And they will keep producing too –I’m still getting new cherries on October 24th. If I’m lucky I’ll have tomatoes into the middle of November. God is good.)
So, Yes. There is Puss. Pure black. Powerful. Purposeful. All business. All MOUSE-business. Now passing the pepper patch –a multicultural Hot Zone, ranging all the way from HOT! to YOW!ow-ow-ow to that OMYGOD Incredulity turns one into a pillar of salt, amazement that one little red cherry pepper can be so intensely HOTTT that it passes all understanding. (A lot of these I’ve grown from harvesting my own seed. One little Thai Bush pepper has 20-30 seeds, each one producing a bush that puts out 150-200 peppers!!! Can you believe it? As I said, God is good.)
Puss has taken up position. Sitting. Dignified. Upright, his tail curled around his front paws. Yes, dignity epitomised, I would say. Except. Except for the slight twitch in that tail….
Signifying what, exactly? Mouse-impatience? No, don’t kid yourself: this is unmitigated Malachi-impatience. He looks straight at me: a “haven’t you anything to do? Go sew some books, or something.” sort of look.
He “closes” his eyes at me. It’s his rejoinder look. He slowly turns his head back towards my mint beds, from which little mice will emerge, searching for fallen sunflower seeds, spilled from suspended birdfeeders by possessive mourning doves who flick their wings at each other in their attempts to command the feeders. Inevitably, some seeds flick out onto the ground. (I designed these feeders to discourage the mice+ and they have not been a total success.)
For which Puss is grateful, no doubt –not that he would show it. His tail is still twitching, but not so the tip lifts off the ground. This twitch is as if a current of electricity passes through the last four inches of the tail, causing it to twitch, but Puss will be darned if his is going to let it manifest in tip-lift or tip-curl. It shudders, but it does not rise.
So. I take Puss’s suggestion –he is always right– and go sew some books. (“Herself Long Ago” –those six Irish women and their 8th-10th C. poetry described elsewhere). Puss might have preferred “Pangur Bawn” –a 9th century poem about a scribing monk and his cat Pangur Bawn.
About an hour later –just as I happen to look up– I see Puss retrace his steps, back past the mint, the basil, the peppers, the tomatoes, and now onto the little concrete patch that divides my garden space from Fred’s next door.
There Puss pauses with a look that is something akin to the look I know I must give when I come into a room and suddenly find I have no idea what I came in for (my tip: write it down; it saves a lot of time, and nobody will know that your memory is going).
Puss has paused for a cat-moment. But now–to pause any longer would be unPusslike.
So –he throws himself on the ground with abandon, onto his back, arching his head way back with magnificent top-of-his-game ease and grace, as well as his spine, and rubbing his coat onto the dust, rolling back and forth, with legs outstretched way beyond human capacity. Then he retracts those legs and brings them in to a kittenish bend just below the jaw. The stretching has been so ecstatic that Puss doesn’t quite know where he is for a minute or so. Then –he shakes his head, and comes to.
This is the point at which I’ve fallen into Puss’s cute trap so many times in the past. Overcome by his display of cute-felinity, I would approach him and seek to stroke his head. He would get up and walk towards me –actually it was always a little faster than ‘just walk’ –like he was anxious to be stroked too. He would reach my leg and brush his face against it, and curl his body against it, and loop his tail around it, and then turn and turn and repeat the motion –several times.
In absolute cat-heaven, might not one be forgiven to think?
But. Yikes! A black olive-eyed flash, and Puss’s front claws are in the back of my hand, and his teeth on my index finger, and he is trying to bring those back feet to bear on my forearm so he can do that rapido cat Big-Dig motion back and forth on it. (Obviously it’s been a bad mouse day.)
I manage to withdraw, relatively intact. Puss gets up, doesn’t even notice me. And saunters off into Fred’s.
I Love Puss.