Going back in my mind yesterday telling Caterpillar's origin, Tapo stays with me. She's been on my mind all day. She left the body soon after Tar Baby by a few months. Tar Baby was Tapo's friend. She loved Tar Baby. He loved her too. Tapo did not like Caterpillar, and I felt like she left the body after Tar Baby was gone to get away from Caterpillar. At about the time of puberty, Caterpillar took a stand-offish attitude toward Tapo and Tar Baby. She intimidated them, always threatening to fight if one came too close to her. She attacked Tapo and cornered her. I tried to stop her, but couldn't change her attitude toward Tapo. I would call her name when she'd corner Tapo, and Caterpillar would start backing up. I called her off of Tapo numerous times. Caterpillar stayed to herself after they differentiated. At first they were like one soul with three bodies and gradually differentiated into their unique personalities. In her youth, Tapo would walk around on the small branches of trees. I saw her one day climb the dogwood near the house. She walked out onto a small limb as far as she could go and it hold her. She sat down in the fork of two small limbs and swung up and down. When she'd had her fun, she stood up, a four-legged tightrope walker, and walked the branch back to the trunk.
Tar Baby was good in trees, too. There was a time I took them with me when I went into the woods to sit on a rock for a few hours and watch the world around me breathe. The place I went to was as far as they would go into the forest where the wild things are looking for cats to eat. They knew what lived in these woods better than I did. I was watching Tar Baby this one day climb a tree on one side of the creek, and walk on the longest branch in the tree that leaned over the creek. He walked out to the end of the branch as far as it would hold him, and leaped onto a branch of a tree leaning over he creek from the other side where I was sitting. He walked to the tree trunk, walked down the trunk backwards, and walked over to where I was sitting. I've seen him jump across the creek from standing still, spring into the air, legs hanging down relaxed, and land on the other side. It was quite a thing to behold. Tar Baby would climb a tree to the very tip top, as close as he could get and it hold. Oh how I miss my babies. Tar Baby wanted to be one of the big guys. He wanted to be with me and Aster. He identified more with us than with Tapo and Caterpillar. He had an advanced mind for a cat. He wanted me and Aster to see that he was one of us. Aster didn't buy it. Tar Baby was, after all, a cat.
I went walking up the road with Aster one day and Tar Baby wanted to go with us. He was young, had never been far from the house. His nerves overtook him when the house went out of sight. He got so nervous, he got a little heady. Aster was walking beside me, not by command, but by her preference at that moment. Tar Baby walked out ahead of us, feeling like he was doing something big. I could see his nervous jitters. At a distance of maybe thirty to forty feet, he looked back at us with curiosity. It was like he'd never seen us small before. He looked at Aster and I saw the spark in his eye that said, I'm gonna do it. He came galloping straight at Aster with his back about half up. He was going to pounce on the dog. Now that Tar Baby was one of the big guys, it's ok to pounce on the dog and play. Aster stood still with her head hanging down and her eyes on Tar Baby's eyes. Tar Baby saw Aster's eyes and he hit the brakes. All four legs extended all the way, toes and claws grasping the gravel road for some grip, sliding sideways straight at Big Growler, eyes about to pop out of his head. Aster didn't move. Tar Baby's momentum came to rest inches from Aster's face. The split-second he stopped, he leaped from the center of the road to the tall grass at the side in a single move, flew up the bank and under the barbed wire fence. He walked with us the other side of the fence all the way home.
The cats came to me after I'd been here twenty years. All those years I'd seen from time to time what I called the spirit cat. I would see it dart out of sight just as I looked. Never got a good look at it until one day I walked in the door after being gone two weeks. The spirit cat was standing in the middle of the floor. Startled, it paused for half a second and ran to a corner behind the corner table. I saw it plain as a cat in a body, a gray shadow. It darted when it ran and ran with tail straight up with a hook at the end. The kittens were born and grew up. I noticed Tapo was the same size and shape as the spirit cat, ran in short bursts of speed, darting, and her tail straight up with a hook at the end. Tapo was born ravenous. She ate until she couldn't eat any more, so glad to have a body. As she grew up she grew out, too. She became a bit chubby, which I suspected had a lot to do with keeping her weight up to Caterpillar's to help her wrestle Caterpillar. I was sitting on the chair one day with Tapo, talking to her. She was depressed over Caterpillar bullying her. I told her, when Caterpillar jumps on you, roll over on your back and rip her guts out with your back claws. She'll stop it. Not ten minutes later, Tapo was on the floor and Caterpillar walked in. She looked hard at Tapo and pounced on her. Tapo rolled onto her back, raked Caterpillar's belly with her claws, and Caterpillar jumped off her and was gone. She only did it a couple of times. My feeling was that she didn't want to hurt Caterpillar, didn't want to fight her. Tapo wanted to be left in peace. I never saw the spirit cat again after Tapo was born. I was grateful the spirit cat was able to have a body delivered to it and set it back into the rhythm of births and deaths. No more stuck without a body. And grateful I had a chance to know my spirit companion of so many years.
hans silvester himself