Tuesday, August 22, 2006

History of the Orange Cat

This is an abandoned house one block away from where I grew up. An old man lived here with 20 or 30 cats that ran wild and bred constantly. Apparently, it became a bad problem for the neighborhood, and he wanted to give many of them away. This is were I got my first cat at the age of 8---a fiercely wild orange tabby that I named Simon. I remember my Dad taking me to his house to pick out a cat in late winter. The tiny livingroom reeked of cat urine. All of the cats ran and hid as soon as we came in. One small, pale orange kitten peeked out from behind a curtain (an old wool blanket hung over the frosted window) and I said, "That one!" The old man brought him over weeks later, a much bigger cat. Simon was totally feral---wouldn't let me get near him. (This didn't faze me, I was an eight year old in love.) My mom sacrificed a bathroom to him for 2 weeks---no small thing for a family of 5---I would go in there every day and talk to him and throw toys around and always, always try to pick him up and hold him. (She told me that if we let him out before we tamed him, he would just run back home to the old man.) Of course, the inevitable happened. One day, in my sister's attempt to use the bathroom, Simon made a break for it and ran out of the bathroom and out of the front door. I recall sitting on the porch and crying my eyes out, saying his name over and over and feeling utterly heartbroken. Then, I heard a meow. There he was! Standing on the hardpacked dirt and weeds of the trail to the door, acting perfectly nonchalant.
From Simon to this day, I've had an ongoing love affair with orange cats. (I've had wonderful cats of other colors, too, but the orange ones always steal the show.)
The old man's house is long abandoned now and very decrepit. Land values have gone up astronomically in that neighborhood, so when the land is sold, his tiny, old house will be bulldozed. I felt the need to document it...the origin of Simon. I live in a pretty small town that is seeing a massive amount of building and change. Many of my favorite old buildings, trees and, to be honest, junkpiles, are being torn down, cut down or cleaned up in the name of progress. It's making me very sad and nostalgic. I even had a favorite abandoned car out in the woods, and that, too, has been scrapped....the land cleared and building started. Yes, yes...change is inevitable and all that.

Oblio, my current familiar. He's needy and onery, but wonderful.

Fall is here for sure....
Here's a scene from a recent walk. Highbush Cranberries are already turning red. Posted by Picasa