To Live as a Cat

It was 6:30 on that day, before any obligation, an hour to myself. I slipped into the fog, like one slips into the water, unseen. The air was so thick that it was like breathing Co2 from dry ice, making me cough, sticking to my desert-dry skin. My feet turn downhill, as they often do, the easiest way to travel. I see few people in the early morning cool. Asphalt eventually changes to gravel, deeply rutted by the endless toes of flowing water. Cows moan for their morning milking, and horses swat their tails at returning flies. I call a hello, and continue walking. I finally stop. I stand there for a while, feeling my calves throb from a sudden incline. The sun is awake too, and has begun her daily task of melting the cloying mists away. I turn reluctantly, for the road has ended in a fence, and I must return soon.

A cat is in my way. She is sitting, her tail folded across her lap. Her pelt is mottled, a squirrel’s tail in chestnut, flecked with black. I do not remember her eyes; one should never look into a wild thing’s heart, for it is her own. I have a distinct feeling that she has both come out of her way to greet me, and is waiting for me to get out of the way. I step back to the edge of the wide road; go! She rises like a leaf to the water’s surface, and winds her way between my legs. I fondle her ears as she goes past. Without a  word of acknowledgement, she goes her way, slipping under the rung of the fence, losing my eyes amidst the tall grass that swallows her tail.

She has no obligations that hold her back like a long fence. She does as she pleases, does not care for what you think. Yes, she appreciates companionship, a stroke down her dusty back, a massage behind the ears. But she is free from requirement. She is laughing behind the bushes right now, on her way down a hidden path under the leaves, on her own agenda. A nap if she pleases, a secret spot she calls her own. Maybe we all have something to learn from cats. Something hidden behind stained-glass eyes.

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