Last night I heard loud cries outside my house. Loud, short cries. A child? A woman crawling home?
I threw on a jacket, ready to rescue a neighbor or maybe a cat when I remembered how my father had told me long ago that the wild animals called Fisher Cats had a cry that sounded human that made wildlife and people drop their guard and swoop in to help the injured animal.
Then the Fisher would attack, kill the rescuer, then enjoy a hero's dinner.
What if those cries were from a child begging for help? I went to YouTube and found a video of a Fisher Cat's cry; it was identical to the cries I heard outside my house.
I took off my jacket and stationed myself at the window, just in case the wild animal walked by, I wanted to see it. A neighbor's cat sat at the end of my driveway in the shadows.
"No kitty", I willed. "Go home. Go home."
This wasn't my favorite neighborhood cat, Mr. B, that lived to the North of me. One day a friend came to visit with his dog and his dog got away and chased Mr. B up a tree on a cold January night at dusk. The friend and I walked to the neighbor's house to knock on the door and apologize for scaring their cat.
The neighbor came to the door with an aggressive stance and asked what we wanted, then he recognized me and softened. I explained about the cat, and he shrugged and said the cat would be fine.
"Ok. Sorry to bother you."
His wife pushed past him and asked us which tree the cat was in while her husband insisted that the fire department never finds dead cats up in a tree; cats know how to get down.
We stood at the base of the tree and the wife called the cat and called the cat until, in a moment of obedience, he fell out of the tree in order to answer her call.
Thump. The cat lay still.
Both of my hands flew over my mouth to hold in a cry of despair. I was sure we'd killed their pet and worried for a moment about the NRA shirt the neighbor wore. Would he retaliate?
After a few seconds, the cat sat up, looked around and then jumped into the wife's arms.
Though the neighbors thanked us over and over again, I kept thinking we were the ones who should apologize for treeing the cat in the first place.
Now there was a different cat at the end of my driveway. Was I going to get the reputation for cats getting hurt in my sight?
This cat lived in the house on the South side of me and greeted me last week with purring and rubbing against my leg as I returned from my three mile walk. When I reached down to pet the cat, he purred louder and so I pet him again. On the third pet, the cat swatted at me with its claws out and scratched a long, deep mark into my arm that drew blood.
Damn cat. He did that on purpose.
This mean cat sat in the shadows as if it was ready to see a drive-in movie. Should I throw something at the cat? Text the neighbors to call in their cat--right away?
Though I was still mad at the cat for the scratches, there was an unwritten agreement that this cat would eat any and all mice on my property, so his value was more than that of a neighbor's beloved pet, he was my protector.
I watched for a few minutes as the Fisher Cat's calls grew more persistent. The neighbor on the north side of my house went outside and banged on a pot. The cries stopped, then started again. A moment later I saw a light brown animal trot down the street, crying all the while.
The cat was right to sit and watch; the wild animal didn't look it's way.
What if that cat took protecting me to a different level and sat there to keep the wild animal at bay?
Love that cat.
Love the memory of my father that lives through these random pieces of advice.
This past week I got pulled over on Route 28 by a Kingston cop. I wasn't speeding and wondered what wrongdoing he would accuse me of. Later when I told my friend Sherry that I got stopped by the police, she said, "Why? Why would they stop you? You never speed. I know because I've followed you."
Which reminded me that when driving in the car or using the internet you are never anonymous.
The cop was friendly and patient while I pulled my documents from the dark compartments of my car. He said my headlight was out and that I would have to get it fixed and then have the police at a station sign off on the fix.
Later I complained to my sister Heather about the injustice of having to get a new headlight within two working days, and she said, "No." She laughed. "Daddy had a trick when it came to headlights."
When I was home in my driveway, she made me put the car into park, get out and knock on the case of the headlight that had blown out.
As if I'd tapped a secret code, the headlight flashed on.
It worked. Of course it worked: my father was always right.