An ode to a friend.

Yesterday I took my cat for a kayak ride, thus fully slipping into my roll as cat lady. Am I becoming the classic spinster? The one seen pushing her cat/rabbit/pug around in a baby carriage, talking his ear off all the while?

When I headed down to the lake after breakfast with a life jacket slung over my shoulder and a paddle in hand, Murray was lounging on the beach (he has very much embraced lake life). I looked at him, and at the kayak, and thought, why not? And scooped him up and plopped him into the bow, quickly jumping in and launching before he knew what was happening. I knew if I was too slow he he would jump out onto the beach, but that once we had left the shore, he wouldn’t for fear of getting wet. One swift movement and we were off. I think that what makes me the cat lady is not that I took my cat for an early morning kayak ride, but more how darn happy I was doing it. As I paddled around with him balanced in my lap and peeking over the edge, the sun on my face, I caught myself thinking, this is the life!

In the weeks leading up to departure, he never complained when I cried into his fur, as I wondered if I was making right choice. In the many kilometres it took to get here in the car, he just mosied between his basket in the back seat, and his blankey in the front. He embraced tiny living in the caravan, always came back from his forest tours, and on the days I didn’t think think I could get out of bed, he rubbed his furry face on mine and made little cooing sounds until I did (he was hungry).

When I was beginning to make arrangements for leaving town, I thought I’d leave him with a friend. It seemed easier… after all, he’s a house cat, how would he adapt to life in the wilderness? To a constantly changing routine? And where would I even put his litter box? It was just temporary, maybe he’d be better off in a house, with his cozy bed, an outlet to plug in his favourite water fountain…

I am very glad I changed my mind. As much as I’ve been learning to embrace solitude, having some quiet company has been more important than I could have imagined. He’s my furry copilot, my sounding board, my confidante. And who needs a fountain when you have rivers, lakes, and puddles? (And the pot of dishwater on the counter. And the mug of water I keep next to my bed at night).

Now we go for walks together. Casual evening strolls in the woods. Around the time I’m cleaning up from dinner, he’ll go and sit silently by the door. I’ll throw on a sweater, and off we’ll go, wandering through the forest a few steps at a time. I don’t even mind anymore if the neighbours hear me talking out loud to him. Who cares? I have things to say. Sometimes I follow him, sometimes he follows me. But there’s never any rush. I’ve learned to practice patience when he he walks five steps then stops to sniff a leaf for five minutes. It gives me time to slow down, to take a closer look at spring, bursting into bloom all around us now. The fiddleheads unfurling, the wild strawberry already beginning to flower, the violets timidly poking up between blades of grass, and the forget-me-nots nodding in the wind.

Yes, I think I fully accept and embrace my cat lady status.

To the water hole

Today I walked to the spring with my cat. The thing about going for a walk with a cat is, you’re really only going to get to go where the cat wants to go, unless you’re okay with losing your cat. So although there is a beaten path between the caravan and the well, I ended up bushwhacking, getting slapped in the face by branches and slipping in the mud while my cat slunk through the underbrush, making his own path, awed as he is to be in “the wild.”

It’s usually only a five minute journey, but after about twenty, we were still spiralling our way there, me a few yards ahead, pausing every few seconds to make sure he was still coming along, waiting as he sat down to clean his normally white paws each time he stepped in a puddle.

As I filled four jugs of water, he laid down on a patch of moss and I guess he liked it there, because he was not prepared to move, no matter what tactics I tried to lure him back in the direction of the caravan when I had finished filling. Cats.

It’s slow living, being in the woods. This morning I bumped into Francis on my walk. He needed a hand cleaning one of the sap tanks, now that sugar season is done. So I found myself inside a big metal vat, scrubbing and rinsing with creek water, which he handed down through the hatch in a bucket. Why not?

I continued on my way, following the rapraprap of a woodpecker, but was sidetracked by a small pond. Frogs dove for cover as I approached, and from the edge I could see hundreds of eggs, clinging to sticks, the edge of the pool, or just floating in gooey clumps. I’ll have to remember to go back tomorrow.

Found some feathers, saw a deer, spotted the woodpecker, sat in a field, wandered back, drank some flat beer. And it’s not over yet.