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Saturday, June 19, 2010

CATERPILLAR'S WALK

caterpillar



Just before dark I took a walk through the woods among ferns and the canopy green so sky only peeped through little spaces like stars. I was looking for a good place to sit down and be in the shade of the trees for awhile. Distant rumblings were coming closer, but going by the distance and the rate they were advancing, I had plenty of time. I guestimated it would reach here about dark. I'd stopped my forward advance and was looking around for a seat when I thought I heard a cat cry. I put it off as my own wheezing and heard it again, more articulately cat. I recognized Caterpillar's plaintive miao that sounds so pitifully alone. She had followed me, though far enough back I never saw her. She was walking her particular Caterpillar walk with eyes big and wide open. She came to me like I'd just rescued her from one of the night animals. I picked her up, she purred and wanted me to rub her face. She puts her face in the palm of my hand, pushes and rubs, and I wrap my hand around her head. She likes that just a few seconds, 5 or so. It varies from time to time. Then it's enough.



There is something about burying her face in the palm of my hand that makes her happy. A dry washcloth or towel can give Caterpillar joy for hours. She Holds it to her face with her paws and rubs her face and rubs it. Thick as Caterpillar's fur is I wouldn't have thought she'd be as sensitive to textures as she is. She likes to rub on paper. She likes a variety of textures. The texture of the palm of the hand is her favorite, on her back, on top of her head, her face. When I held her out in the woods, she liked being up high where she could look around and see farther than usual. She looks around, studying details in distances, looking for anything moving. After a few minutes she was satisfied we were safe and relaxed. At ease, she wanted down. Caterpillar likes her feet on the ground. She likes being held, but not too much.



She walked around looking for anything she could find and watching me when I got up to walk down the hill to the house. She stayed back and watched me descend the hill, and I figured she'd come on when she was ready. I looked down at my feet and there she was, just a few feet away. That's her world. She doesn't like to go there without me anymore. Yesterday she wanted to go outside and I had a fair idea Martha the dog was somewhere nearby. Caterpillar went out about 20 feet from the house and here comes Martha. She started to take off after Caterpillar, play chase, I hollered at her and she stopped. Martha has the learning capacity of somebody with old-timers. When she turned her eyes back to the cat after being distracted by me, she was ready to run at Caterpillar again. I had to holler at her again. This went on 4 or 5 times until I stepped out the door threatening that I mean business. Looking back at it now, Caterpillar must have been terribly impressed at how the human just hollers at the dog and the dog stops. I don't believe Martha would hurt her, but I don't know that.



As soon as I stepped outside Martha ran to me and coiled herself around my feet squealing and squirming, wringing and twisting. I touched her and she went into spasms of ecstasy bark-squealing and squirming so much I had to pull my hand back and tell her to settle down. The dog that never learns. She has learned a little bit that when I'm walking from house to car and car to house, do not jump on me. That was all she could do for a long time until I got just rough enough with her to let her know it is not acceptable behavior. Now she jumps up and down all around me, squirming in the air, unable to contol the impulse to jump on me until the last split second when she wiggles against her momentum to retract the lunge. It's a constant jump up and down dance like that. I have to kick my heels up behind to keep her off the backs of my legs. This is every time, not just every once in awhile, and it's every step. Like half the humans are below average, half the dogs are too. I've tried to take her for a walk, but it's not long before she sees an imaginary deer and takes off after it. Next time I see her she's at the house waiting for me.



When the night became dark the thunderstorm dropped a major downpour for half an hour or so. It made Caterpillar uneasy. Her impulse was to crawl under something, but she found a little corner, hunkered down and put her face in the corner. She stayed there until the storm passed. She's gone off to bed by now. Caterpillar is an easy cat to live with. Tapo is too. Tapo might be outside. She's spent several nights lately under the house. All I can figure is she has a corner with a ceiling so low dogs can't reach her, a place where she feels as secure as in the house. Tapo has appeared. Her back is damp from being outside. She's now lying down on the desk beside the keyboard, tip of her tail sometimes crossing the corner of the screen. Tapo's first sign of becoming an old cat is one whisker turned white. TarBaby was getting several white hairs sprinkled around in his coat. Tapo has none.

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