Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Met on the trail

Cleo appeared on the trail in our woods as if she had always been there, as if this trail was well known to her and in fact belonged to her and she was just letting us use it out of the kindness of her tiny feline heart.

She looked like she belonged there too, after I got over the initial urge to scoop her up and run her back to the house. We heard her meow before we saw her, the dogs and I. We meandered our way between the trees leaving our house behind in search of adventure on our daily walk. It was a gray day and the light fell heavy and flat to the forest floor and the harsh, ringing meow coming from the underbrush seemed to cast the flatness of the light in to sharp relief.

It was slightly jarring to hear Cleo’s crisp voice breaking the serenity of the woods and when she appeared she seemed bigger than I would have imagined her to be amongst the trees, but she also seemed to be well camouflaged in her mottled coat of leafy beige and gray the colour of storm clouds.

“Reowr,” she said again as she set her green eyes on the three of us and marched down the trail to meet us, white legs flashing.

“Hello Cleo,” I said, bending down to pet her head as she leapt up to meet my hand with a trill and a couple of short meows. “What are you doing way up here?”

And she looked at me with a look that was both knowing and filled with secrets.

“You should go back to the house,” I said, always thinking about what might be lurking behind trees that would find a house cat just the perfect thing to abate pangs of hunger. But she trotted happily beside us for a few moments, any thought of returning home or leaving the woods clearly not even a glimmer in her mind.

When we reached the fork in the trail, the dogs and I turned left on a path that would follow the edge of out square of woods where it butts up to the clamour of white poplar saplings that jostle for space in the new growth forest and eventually turns towards the mountain.

Cleo loitered at the fork, contemplating her options. I glanced back over my shoulder, curious if she would follow. But instead she trotted off in to the woods where there was no clear trail, moving with the relaxed purpose of someone with a plan pretending not to have a plan, just like a cat who thinks she owns the forest.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Molly’s preoccupation

“Now, where did I leave that thing?” says Molly in her head as she doubles back on the trail, nose to the ground. “I know it’s around here somewhere.”

“Molly!” comes the voice through the trees.

Molly rolls her eyes, “Her again.” And continues walking away. “Why is she always yelling? ‘Molly leave it, Molly come here, Molly don’t eat that.’ I can’t do anything,” she thinks as she accidentally inhales a couple of raindrops from a wide green leaf, shakes her head with a sneeze.

Molly strides over the well-worn trail, stopping suddenly here and there to sniff a patch of ground that smells familiar, that may hold some clues.

“Was it under here?” she wonders, jamming her long nose beneath a tree trunk where it fell across the trail so long ago she doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t have to jump over it on a walk. “Nope. I was sure I didn’t drop it before this point.” But she jumps over the tree trunk, following the winding path further amongst the underbrush.

“Come on Molly!” comes the voice again. “I can see you.”

“Curse these giant ears,” Molly says to herself. “I always forget how much height they add.” And she tries to hunker down closer to the ground so the greenery obscures her position and she moves faster, time not on her side.

“Where is it!” she thinks, shifting a pile of leaves with her paw, sniffing the ground beneath, moving aside green leafy plants with her nose, darting to the other side of the trail to do it again. “I can’t leave without it.”

“Molly! Let’s go!” says the voice, with an edge this time.

“I’ll just pretend I don’t hear her,” thinks Molly as she skips almost frantically from one side of the path to the other. “She won’t know. I’ll give her my blank stare when I see her, as though I have no idea what she’s talking about.”

Molly loops back, retracing her retraced steps, air whooshing in and out of her nose as she catches a whiff here, a whiff there. “I’m closing in,” she thinks.

“Aha! There you are!” She leaps forward, scoops up the stick in her mouth, dropping it once in her excitement and then clamping it firmly between her teeth.

Ears tall, chest out, striding with military precision, Molly triumphantly returns down the trail, carefully rearranging her face to an expression of innocent blankness when she sees the woman standing ahead with that other dog, the one she stole the stick from. “Oh, were you waiting for me?” says Molly.

“Are you happy now?” asks the woman, somewhat flatly as though she doesn’t really mean it.

“Relatively,” thinks Molly as she skips ahead.