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Monday, June 1, 2009


This evening I set out to walk down to the creek in the woods and sit on a rock for awhile. TarBaby was nowhere in sight and Caterpillar never let on like she wanted to go with me. I had to step over her on the walkway. I pet her and talked to her and went on thinking if TarBaby doesn't see me I might have a chance to spend some time there. He gets anxious in the woods after awhile. He smells the wild things that pass through in the night. He knows they're all bigger than him and the ones his size are so ferociously wild he doesn't want to tangle with any of them.
I'd been there maybe two or three minutes on the moss covered rock I like to sit on and heard, meow. TarBaby. He followed. I sat down and he was all around me, stood up and sunk his claws into my shoulders from behind. That means, let's go. I act like I want to sit there awhile and he walks around and around me, sometimes sinking some claws into me somewhere to get my attention. He wants to go. He doesn't like it here. This is where the really big critters live.

I started back to the house and heard a shrill cat cry. It was Caterpillar. She had followed. She takes her time walking. TarBaby doesn't have a walking speed that slow. We met Caterpillar at the same place of TarBaby's photo yesterday. She was so pitiful. Walked all that way by herself, calling, calling. She finally caught up with us and she wanted to go back. This is the territory of the night critters that live outside the restraints of the human mind. The aborigines. They have a very different way of thinking and doing things. Some of them eat cats.

It's a different world out there in the woods for them than it is for me. I'm a human, enemy of every living thing. They see me a long time before I see them and they're gone. I've not walked up on a bear yet and don't fear it, but also don't rule out the possibility. The bear's fear is greater than mine. The body language of fear is the same as that of aggression. They read fear in a body stance or movement as aggression, aimed at them. All the different critters that live in the woods see each other and don't charge each other. They just stand still and show no aggression in any way. Just stand still and let a non-aggressive stance say I'm not here to be a problem. That's what I tell myself, believing it untested, therefore not altogether certain. My knees would be too weak to move. Having lived with cats and dogs all my life, I know that to run from an animal is an invitation to chase. It's automatic.
We walked slowly down the path out of the woods, ambling for me. TarBaby came along next and Caterpillar behind him. Caterpillar walks at a steady pace. She has one speed only, a steady one-step-at-a-time pace. I can go way out ahead of her and she will plod along one step at a time until she catches up to where I'm going. In tall grass it's funny to see her gray tassled tail passing through the grass. She will take as long as she needs to take, just keep on keepin on. One step at a time. She cries to me knowing I'll call back when I hear her to help her locate where I've gone. TarBaby looks at her like to say, 'You slow thing.' She pays him no mind.
Caterpillar is an aloof sort of cat. She simply would rather the other two cats go live someplace else. She keeps a place on a cushion in a far corner of the house from where all the activity takes place. She'll put up with the others, but don't get too close. Don't touch the cat. A little growl in the back of the throat, a whisper growl that says, 'You're gettin on my nerves and I just might take a notion to pounce on you. Wipe that silly grin off your face or I'll wipe it off for you, whichever.' If it's TarBaby he'll stop and pull his head back a little ways and look down his nose at her, watching her eyes to see what she's going to do, ready for anything.
If it's Tapo, she'll squat to the floor and lay her ears back and growl showing her teeth. That's an invitation to Caterpillar. It flashes in Caterpillar's automatic mind, Get the Cat. Tapo is the bottom of the pecking order and Caterpillar likes to push it. She'll advance on Tapo slowly, holding her eyes on Tapo's eyes, moving closer and Tapo growls and lets out a yelp and runs into a corner and Caterpillar advances on her. Tapo crouches down with the back of her head to the wall and ears back growling and yelling at Caterpillar who is acting like she's going to pounce, but may or may not. I like to leave them to their own relationships, but when it gets to this point where Tapo is so intimidated, I'll call to Caterpillar and ask her let it be. And she does. She starts backing off slowly, holding her eyes on Tapo's, retreating but watching in case Tapo decides to pounce.
I walk back slowly with a couple of cats that don't walk as fast as I do. TarBaby was all charged up ready for anything that might happen to send him flying up a tree. Alert and sober, nothing on his mind but wariness. Caterpillar too, glad to be leaving that wild place. Tapo doesn't go walking with us anymore. Years ago she quit. They used to all three go walking with me, but once we passed a certain point Caterpillar would pounce on Tapo and wrestle her clawing and biting and telling her to get back to the house. TarBaby too. He has his own way of walking up to her with a look that says, I'm gonna kick your ass, and jumps on her and Tapo goes nuts squirming and fighting. She can fight them both off of her, but it wears her out to be fighting all the time. She doesn't like it, so she stays at the house. She's the house cat now and she rules inside the house.

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