Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dept. of If That Don’t Beat All

At 6:04 ET this evening it came to my attention that the RaptureMobile had failed to pick me up on its way out of town. However, ten minutes later, when I went to fill a pan with a little water for this strange old Dominique hen who’s been hanging around the birdfeeder/front door all by herself lately, it became apparent why even a hanging strap on the mass transit to the afterlife would be thrown away on me.

I had been gardening for three hours or so, and was totally covered with mud, so instead of tracking through the house I used the garden hose, set to a fairly pitiful trickling spray, to put an inch of water in an enamel pan that was standing around near the odd hen. And while I was at it, I thought I would just water the potted plants on the porch stairs, since it hadn’t rained in at least six hours, and they have gotten used to drenching storms every twenty minutes. So while I am watering the red chard plant that overwintered in the cold frame and now graces the front steps, a male ruby throated hummingbird came twittering over, hung like a sign from God on the very edge of the spray from my hose, and then alighted on a chard leaf to sip the water that was running down the stem. Having given this astonishing performance, he moved off to a rose cane nearby to swipe his bill clean.

When my amazed eyes lifted from this sight, there were woodpeckers of two different species hugging the pole of the birdfeeder across the drive, and three other kinds of perching birds in the hedgerow behind. At this point I decided that I, like the old lady who lived here before me, would prefer to stay at Woodbourne for some unspecified period of time than spend eternity in a country where there are no dogs or songbirds.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sterling Marlin, RIP

Late this afternoon I heard a strange repeated cat cry, which led me to the East Orchard, where Sterling, my very white cat, was lying on the very green grass, his pupils slitted with pain, his tongue and gums not so red as they should have been. It was obvious that whatever it was was really bad, so I scooped him in a towel and rushed him to the vet five minutes away. He died on the way in.

Sterling was coming up on his fourth birthday. We don’t know the exact date because we got him when he was about six months old. He had moved out of the barn where he was born and was living under a pull-behind camper in a machine shed a mile or two from here. A nice older gentleman was living in the camper, feeding Sterling venison burgers and cans of tuna, but he was going in for hip surgery soon, and Sterling would not be able to go with him. The gentleman saw my poster for a lost cat and called me from the pay phone at the gas station. He said, “I don’t have your cat, but I have another little one you might like.”

I did like him. He had a funny double-strike meow, and he got to be great friends with the other junior cat in our extensive pride. That fellow, John-Paul, looked on in great concern as Sterling lay crying in the field, and had to be shooed out of the way as we rushed off to the vet. Of us all, I feel the worst for him.