I’m shelving my in-progress manuscript for a little while, and it’s not because I have writer’s block or that I’ve lost interest in the story. It’s a funny story, so it’s definitely not a “the characters are making me sick” sort of thing. It’s really a pressing “other issue” sort of thing, and with the world in chaos at the moment, I’d rather focus on the positive versus my angry thoughts about everything, especially that neo-fascist asshole (racist, bigot, misogynist) currently wagging is dumb-fuckery around along with his shit hair. When I write from an angry place, it wears me down too much, and I am writing a comedy, so that shit ain’t gonna work.
Those who know me know that I am a tree-hugging animal lover who spent a little over twenty years living with a business of hooligans running around my house. (Ferrets that is.) By 2007, the only little one left of the unruly bunch was my tiny turnip Baldrick, handicapped and old, and we were just counting the months we had with him as a blessing. Then a cat, a black cat, came in the moonlight that very friggin’ cold February. Apparently we had a rodent problem in our shed.
Now my husband and I are no strangers to wildlife. We live backing up to the woods, and we get a lot of wildlife. Wooded areas are also known for feral cat colonies. At one point, I think we were feeding somewhere in the neighborhood of twelve. Then a TNR group started operating in our township, and the feral cats slowly diminished in numbers. Except for that black cat. We named him Martin Moonshine – moon for short – and took to the arduous task of taming him. He was receptive to us, had already been trapped and neutered, and rarely left our property. Five years later, he wanted to come inside, and we let him. Once inside, he just blossomed and is now the biggest cuddle-bug I’ve ever seen. A loyal companion and friend.
That same year in the summer, another feral cat turned up as well. We named him Rupert and tried not to get too attached because we’d seen so many come and go over the years. He was also much more frightened and shyer than Moon. A put-the-food-down-and-leave type cat. He wanted no contact. However, he and Moon shared a similar disposition i.e. they both used to get beat up by other toms all the time, and so he and Moon were friends.
We’ve continued to care for Rupert going on eight years now and thought it would continue until he disappeared one day to our heartbreak. It wasn’t until I had a bout of total laziness that things changed.
One day I decided that I didn’t want to schlep back to the woods at 5:30 in the morning in the dark and in the rain and snow and ice in my bathrobe to feed him anymore. I said, “If he wants to eat, he has to come to the back door like all the others did.” We bought a dog house and started working him to the much more convenient spot to feed him.
Surprisingly, after three years, he and Moon reacquainted themselves with each other and would often sit together in the summer sun (with the glass between them) having what always looked to be very interesting and lively cat conversations full of tails up, butts out, and lots of bellies. Then Rupert started coming to the patio more often, and then even more often, giving me the belly as well.
As the weather grew cooler this fall, my husband and I had several discussions about Rupert’s age and the odds of him being able to handle coming winters, as they have gotten so much colder and more brutal weather-wise. We wished it could have been a gradual process like it had been for Moon, but circumstances being what they are, our options were limited: treat him like any other woodland creature and let him die in the cold someday with no one around to know, or, do what we did for Moon and try to give him a real home for whatever years he has left. He is probably ten years old already, having been with us for eight.
We trapped him Sunday past.
He went to the veterinarian on Monday (shots, fleas, etc.) and he’s home with us now so we can start the rehabilitation. He’s stressed and very scared, but he knows us, trusts us to an extent, so we need to build on that once he’s feeling better from all the vaccines and medications. Just thinking that I might finally be able to touch him after eight years brings a smile to face even with the crushing doubt and lack of confidence I have sometimes about whether we can handle this and whether or not we are doing the right thing.
Having done this before, I know it’s a long arduous process not to mention the financial and emotional commitment. But it’s what I want to do right now. Make a sacrifice. Do something unselfishly for another in need. With all the hate in the world, I need to give love right now. Put positive energy out into the world. I’d rather do that with action not words.
So the book will have to wait.