August 31, 2010. Tuesday.
Situation: Moi tells me that Squeak now goes outside every morning, creeping cautiously among the bushes I guess, for as much as 2 hours, or until whenever Moi lets the chickens out of the coop, and this scares her back inside. She is usually inside when I get up, and looking to hop on my lap when I’m in the office, her purring making a similar sound to the grinding of the computer programs. She nuzzles her forehead into the crook of my arm and plants it there, often knocking my arm when I’m trying to type or move the mouse. Usually I toss her off after a few minutes, but even if I don’t, she will hop off of her own accord after about the same time, and seek a more private place to lie – on hot days this might be the bathroom sink, which she inevitably discovers at some point is not so private. When I think of Squeak I sometimes say “Spook,” for in my mind I so readily hear Jazz calling out the name of her cat, a ghostly all white, veritably psychotic cat that seems to never have grown to adult size, although she’s become grossly overweight. Spook now lives with Jazz and Matt, but Jazz first got her when she still lived here, having rescued her from a crack house or someplace where heavy drugs were ingested freely; it’s my understanding that the cat may have been given drugs herself. Spook’s most distinguishing characteristic, other than that she spends most of her day in hiding, frightened of most everything, especially my approaching footsteps, is that she never was litterbox-trained, and shits and pisses anywhere in the house but in a litter box. I used to try to convince Moi and Jazz to at least put her outside, but they refused, fearing that Spook, unable to get a quite clear sense of her surroundings, would soon get lost and die. I think their fear was somewhat exaggerated, for I believe if given the opportunity the cat would have learned how to get around outside okay. Whether I’m right or wrong, one day everyone in the house except me decided to go on an overnight trip, and I was given the task of watching Spook, with explicit instructions not to let her out. No more than 2 minutes after every one left, Spook snuck out the door and disappeared in the weeds along the house. I spent two or three hours looking for her, and didn’t find her until the next day, when I saw her perched at the very top of a branch of the fallen hemlock in front of the house. The hemlock is surrounded by vines (I now know they’re Japanese honeysuckle), which I had to wade through to retrieve her; she squirmed from my grasp but she didn’t jump away when I reached for her. It’s now about 10:26, and so far I have no work to do today (although I’ll have to go into town sometime to send off my results). I saw Mway walking around this morning with a little stick in her mouth, which she deposited, to my dislike, in the music room. She’d be ready for a walk any time, but since I have no work tonight, I think I’ll wait till afternoon. It’s 4:00 when I slip on my boots, Mway at the kitchen table, smiling, then bending forward to stretch.
State of the Path: Out on the path I immediately start whacking down ragweed and goldenrod with the lilac stick. I take the initiative this time, and turn left onto the side path. At the monkey vine portal, I reflect how those kids would have loved to swing on the monkey vines – too bad they live in a nice subdivision. Through the old orchard, I see a faint trace of a beaten path; perhaps those kids did sneak down at least once and swing on those vines. Of my many regrets, not the smallest is that I never made time to play paintball with the Boy and his friends when they were playing it in these fields; I might have made the time, except when the Boy first got a gun, I told him not to shoot me, but he did anyway, on the leg, and it hurt like hell. I whack back the multiflora briars that snagged me yesterday. When I come back to the main path, I’m struck by how the yellow goldenrod surrounds me; I feel like I’m in a tidal surge and barely able to keep my head above water. Down by the wigwams, a garter snake (or a black ribbon snake – I’m not going to look it up) slithers past me in the path; perhaps it lives in Moi’s old tumbling down wigwam – it’s an eternal truth that the shelters animals like best are those made by man. When I turn right at the creek, I hear a boom, like that from an electric bass guitar: it’s a couple birds flying frightened through the trees. As I’m winding through the big locusts, I see a sheet of white drop through the trees: sure enough when I investigate I find globs of fresh bird shit on the ground, and more dried white shit on the leaves of a weed. I look up but don’t see any bird (although I’d just seen one fly away from this area). I decide to take the side path by the skating pond, stepping over the feed channel very carefully (my foot, though much better, is still sensitive when I touch it). When I look in the feed channel, where Moi’s sweetflag has disappeared, what do I see but a single flower of my “creeping bush clover”; then on my way back I spot in the ditch a single blooming chicory and a single stalk of what I believe to be Pennsylvania smartweed (now when I check quickly in the Audubon, maybe the “chicory” was some kind of aster, because it had a yellow pistil).
State of the Creek: The creek is again a series of disconnected pools.The Fetch: Up at the clearing, Mway awaits me. Just once, I think to myself, maybe we could do something else here in the clearing. It doesn’t seem as hot, though, as it was yesterday. But I toss the stick a great many times, and Mway fetches it a great many times, and by the time we’re on the last fetches I feel as hot, and even sweatier, than I did yesterday. Back in the back yard, Moi is painting some window frames and she shouts out that Mway needs some water in her pool. I see Mway’s head sticking out above the float beneath the maple tree. I mumble back that Mway has water in her other pool. Moi, not quite understanding me, retorts: “Come on, you feel you have to jump in the pool after your walk. So does Mway.” When I walk by the other pool, though, I see there’s no water in it. So I take the hose and start filling it up, staring at the cartoon fish, seahorses, and octopi that decorate the lining.