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Sunday, October 25, 2009

CATS AND SOULS

neighbors in the meadow




A fairly quiet day today with temp in 50s in the afternoon, comfortable on porch with long sleeve flannel. Easy with a tshirt for a few minutes, but there comes a time sleeves help. Sometimes I have wondered all along in the time of living with 4-leggeds living here too, what they must think when they see me take off orange and put on white. Go around every day in different colors. I've seen them watch me change clothes and wonder what they must make of us humans being different colors. I imagine they think it would be a fun way to be. Maybe they get tired of the same color all the time, but I doubt it. Like Caterpillar is the same color as a rock. When she's hunting she goes into the woods and sits still out in the open like she's a rock. TarBaby can hunker down in the shade of a rhododendron and disappear.




The cats learned when they were kittens about thicknesses of various pieces of cloth I wear like tshirt, denim, sweat shirt, how far they could put a claw in it before I let out a yelp. They've learned that about every thickness of cloth I wear. I noticed in their play they would sink a claw into each other until they heard a yelp and let go. Feeling what their claws can do. They can swat each other with no claws or sometimes sink in a claw just enough to make the other one hiss. They know the threshold for every degree of pain they have in mind. They only bite full force when they're fighting another cat that came into their territory. With each other, they never bite to hurt any more than for annoyance.




They've never bit me. When I do something that hurts one, like a time Tapo was on the desk and had her tail hanging down the front of the desk. When I leaned forward it hurt her tail. She took a lunge at my hand with her teeth and just slightly touched the skin as her way of saying, That Hurt! The attack with her teeth looked like she was biting me, but I only felt the tips of her teeth as gently as the slightest touch. I saw she was talking to me, telling me it hurt, but she also knew no intent was behind it, that it just happened.




I've thought how sad it is for other cats I've seen that have done that and the human they live with goes apeshit hollering YOU BIT ME! And then all hell breaks loose. Cat runs for the cat hole. I've an idea that we're harder to learn where behavior is concerned than they are. We're wildly unpredictable, esp where a creature is concerned that humans think has no soul, no feelings, no thoughts, no intelligence. Beasts. But that old way of regarding the 4-leggeds is gradually fading away. Thanks to science, really, we humans have begun to see that they feel and think, yet I can't help but believe humans knew that all along. Like Aesop's fables. The ancient world is full of fables about animals that think about things. Yet in the ancient world animals were the same as dumptrucks or pickups, beasts of burden.




One of the more interesting statistics I've remembered is that more people around the world are killed by donkeys every year than die in plane crashes. Who'd have ever thought it? When you think about it, Africa, South America, Central America, the Middle East, the East are loaded with donkeys. A lot of people don't treat animals right, like nearly everybody, and a donkey is an African herd animal originally. They have feet and teeth to fight with. To live in the world of wild animals that fight to the death, they're all furious fighters. I've an idea when a donkey has had enough of beating and berating and being hurt all the time expected to do every kind of hateful work, there comes a time when the donkey lets go and does what it has known it could do all along. Then, of course, the humans kill the donkey, because it's a killer donkey. Hee Haw.




Then there is James King's song Echo Mountain about the dog that saved the baby from the wolves, and without knowing what really happened, the man killed the dog, then found the baby alive with dead wolves around it. A tear your heart out song. It's one that gets to me every time I hear it. The cries on Echo Mountain are a painful thing to hear. When a man don't use good judgement, it's the innocent that pay. That song will be played on bluegrass radio to the end of time. It's a tear-jerker that works on me every time, even just thinking about it. I've heard somebody else sing it, but James King's will never be outdone. It's forever James King's song and will never be forgotten by anyone who ever heard it.




Mournful songs were well liked in the old days. Like Knoxville Girl, I took her by the golden curls and dragged her round and round. In Mattie Grove, Lord Arnold cuts off his wife's head and kicks it against the wall. Carter Stanley was a good one to sing the mournful songs. The Story of the Lawson Family where on Christmas Eve dad killed his wife and all the kids but one, the one that lived to tell the story. We still have them in pop culture from time to time, but they're not nearly as good as the old-time ones, because the old-time ones happened like they were told in the song.




When I was a kid I saw the intelligence in dogs and all the animals, but the people I grew up among, the culture I grew up in, taught me it isn't so. But I never really believed it. Almost did, but not quite. Then got to knowing some and by now when a squirrel runs under my tire and there's nothing I can do to avoid it, I feel the same as if it were a child, only it's legal to run over a squirrel, but not legal for a child. A squirrel runs under my tire and I get away with it. A child does and I don't. I believe the animals have souls and I pray for them the same as I do a human.
It seems to me a soul is a soul, each one a drop of the universal ocean that is God. I like to tell people who drop in to visit Jr that if his conscious mind doesn't recognize them, it's ok, because his mind doesn't work anymore, but his soul is wide awake and he knows you there. I don't know if they know what I'm talking about, but I believe in every case they did. Whether or not they went along with it they never say. I just say it because I believe it.




This was one of the many things I knew in childhood that were taught out of me by school and culture. In my nonconformist outsider way of life in my adult years I've been able to return to what I knew as a child that culture denied. Not many years ago, less than 5, I heard a man interviewed by a dj in Galax in a conversation about the Rex Theater where some of the first bluegrass bands played, Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, Stanley Brothers, Reno & Smiley, and so on. This would be late 30s, 40s, and the elderly man said, 'In them days people thought somethin of one another.'
That, too, returned to what I saw as a child. I had to come to the mountains to find the tail end of a culture where people thought something of one another. It took some getting used to when my parachute landed me amongst people who believe their neighbors are more important than celebrities.




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