22 March 2012

Bloody but Unbowed

The black cat reappeared during daylight hours today. I had not see it in almost a week, and I had begun to think that it had, as it is said, moved on. But late this afternoon, when I came out here to Walden he (or she) was laying beside the cabin looking, I thought, rather peaceful. I was glad to see it. But there was something about the cat’s demeanor that suggested to me that something was amiss, and as I drew nearer the cat didn’t scamper away as has been its habit over these past several months. Oh, it always soon returned as soon as it sensed there was food about: I had been putting food out regularly for this occasional visitor who would never enter the cabin but would share happily its offerings. But this week there had been a change in the pattern: the food I would lay out in the morning remained uneaten until evening, but then in the morning, the food would be gone. The black cat had usually come for its meals during the day. I did not consider it to be a nocturnal visitor. I wondered who had been dining in the just big enough bowl, and grew concerned that perhaps a raccoon was frequenting the environs. Raccoons scare me. Of course, I think it was I who had entered the environment last, and had occupied the land once roamed by raccoons and others, and that circumstance certainly is both here and there, but I wondered about the cat.
And then late this afternoon, beside the cabin there lay the black cat seemingly warming itself in the sun. I went inside the cabin where I store the food and grabbed a packet from the box, brought it outside, opened the bag and splashed the gooey mixture of salmon and cod bits all over my hand, and then filled the bowl. And as soon as I put the food down, the cat stood up and . . . limped to the dish. The cat kept its right legnow hanging lifelesslyoff of the ground. It had been injured in either a confrontation with another animal, in an accident during its regular meanderings, or by a passing vehicle that sped along the road carelessly oblivious to the wild life that shared these spaces.
It disturbed me to recognize the animal in pain . . . and yet, it did not whine or complain or rail at the gods. It hobbled with grace and stoic purpose to the bowl, ate, groomed itself and headed off to wherever it goes for the evening. I am glad that it has been so warm these days; at least the black cat had not to also contend with the weather that usually oppresses in March.
The preceding is either an allegory or a metaphor, but it did (and does) really happen.


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