I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Walking With Annibel

There is a beautiful color in the sky just before the sun goes down.

 It's  pinkish and a bit of yellow with tinges of pale blue.  The hills to the east reflect the last rays of the sun going down into the Pacific Ocean to the West, many miles away from our foothill home.
I don't see sunsets anymore. We chose to build a house on the east side of the mountain because this is a hot climate and the sun clings painfully to the dry hills in the summer. Also our best view is to the southeast .
The wildflowers dry up and turn brown in the heat of mid summer.
They have their own beauty as the flowers fade and the stems lose their green.
Last night we were ending a long hot day and, as the evening came to a quiet close, I decided to take a  quick walk up to the orchard and back before it got dark.  It's all uphill in that direction and good exercise for my pathetic feet. My heart is fine but my feet are failing me. I think there was some retched foot DNA that was passed along to me by some distant relative. So, I keep walking because life is short and I don't want to end up sitting in a chair for the rest of my life.
Annibel, our cat, reluctantly followed me.
Last night, when it was time for her to go into the garage, she was nowhere to be seen.  We guessed that she, because of the warm weather, decided to go hunting and stalk the wild things all night. We never know for sure because if she stays out all night we just leave the small garage door open for her. Then she can come in to the garage for safety in case the "wild things" decide to stalk her instead of the other way around.
So maybe she was miffed because we let her fend for herself. She seemed a bit upset. Oh well Annie...If the paw fits...

She was being very distant and basically ignored me. She usually walks with me and then runs ahead of me until I catch up with her. But last night I would stop, look back and call her... then she would just saunter slowly up the road toward me.
Cats are so different that Dogs. All I have to say is "Walk?" and stand still in front of Carl or Cutter. Then they start running around the house whining and acting like I just said "Biscuit?" or "Kitty cat?". They go crazy. They love their walk and can't wait to get their leashes on.
But, Annibel is a CAT. She waits. She weighs the situation.... " Do I want to go with Farmlady or do I want to just sit here and look at her?" She, as the joke goes, will get back to me.
So, it appeared that she was still trying to decide whether to walk with me or stay around the homestead. 
Finally she caught up with me and we headed for the orchard.
We don't really have an orchard anymore. When we first moved here we fenced an area so we could plant some fruit trees and grow some berries. We chose a place between the well and the septic leach mound. We piped and did a hose system for watering, cleared the land and planted the trees. The only thing we didn't think about was how far away from the house it was and as the years went by, we realized that water was a BIG issue and with our garden near the house and the animals we kept accumulating, our water was not going as far as our big ideas. So, after 15 years we have basically let the orchard go. A Pear tree struggles, and the two olives trees survive without any water during the summer.
The rest is gone, but  it's OK. It's one less thing to have to take care of. We have two persimmon trees in the veggie garden below the house and that's enough until we drill another well and have more water.
I walked up past the orchard and looked for any signs of wildlife. I knew that they were there hiding from me. But they were not to be seen. The deer, the fox and all the smaller creatures of the area were waiting for the human and her spoiled calico cat to leave so they could start their nightlife. 
Annibel kept looking up the hill...
Then, as if she had surmised that there were no threats to her catness, she started being frisky. She ran toward me and stopped.
Flipped around and ran back through my legs...
Turned around and ran back between my legs again.
Then she rolled over on the ground and wanted to play. It was like she has lost her "tude" completely.
Now she just wanted to have fun. She rolled and stretched.... and when I reached down to rub her belly, she pawed at me and wanted to nip at me. The attitude was gone. All of a sudden she was the playful kitten again and was just being downright silly. She went from Garfield to The Cat in the Hat  within seconds. We had a few moments of playtime and then she sobered up.
We started back down to the house and at some point I realized that Annie, again, wasn't with me. Then I saw her.

She was sitting near the well, looking up at the ridge above us. I walked back up to her. "Annie, what are you looking at?" She didn't move. She was watching something.
You know how a cat lifts and lowers their body, slowly, crouching a little, trying to see something?
She had seen something. I looked up on the ridge.
About half way up the hill a fox was sitting there watching us.
This is what I live for.
I looked down at Annie.

When I looked again...  the fox was gone.

I picked Annie up and carried her for a few feet. Then I put her down and she followed me. She even ran ahead of me.
Then she laid down and waited for me. When I got to her she ran ahead and laid down again... and waited.
 This was what we usually did together on our walks. I knew now that she had sensed something way before I knew anything was there. She was acting differently because she was being cautious.... and now she knew what it was, so she was taking me home.
By the time we got back to the house it was getting dark. I opened the gate and went though to the back door of the garage. Annie followed me and went in. I gave her a couple of cat treats and closed the door... " 'night Annie."  She was already heading for her bed. Tonight she would sleep safely.
I wondered what the fox thought about the cat and what the cat was thinking as she watched the fox. At sometime in the past their ancestors were living together, surviving in a hostile environment. The Wilderness is still out there. Annie is not a part of it because she is "our cat"... or is she.
I turned the light out and closed the door, walking over to the back porch. As I started up the stairs, I heard one of the goats say something to me... just a small sound. I looked over at the goat house and said..."Goodnight boys." and again I heard the quite, soft "maaaa".
I"m sure the fox came and drank water out of the bucket across the driveway later on and then checked to see if he could get into the chicken house. I'm sure that is what he does at night.
I walked into the house. Carl and Cutter greeted me like I had been gone for days.
The Prospector asked if I put Annie in the garage. I said "Yes, she's safe tonight."

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.  ~John Muir, 1913


  1. What a good story about Annibel and her senses! Cats are truly a mysterious breed- aloof but yet still capable of being very loving. I think it is amazing that she actually walked with you! I would love to have a feline companion, but the allergies are just too bad. Glad she gives you such amusement. :-) Sue

  2. ha. cute cat...ours is the same..mind of her own, independent but always wanting to be involved...ours does that run ahead and lay down gig too...

  3. I love this. Walks with Buddy always seem to wake me up more to my surroundings as he is so attuned to them. Seeing a fox is such a treat. What a great evening walk. Love the photos illustrating it.

  4. my silly cat attacked a fox here... and ran it off a week or so ago... michael saw the whole thing... crazy indeed... hank has cattatude too!

    ha ha my word is DOGRA

  5. That was a beautiful story. I felt as if I was walking right along with you and Annibel. I love the Muir qoute...perfect.

  6. Another lovely story. Annibel is a very pretty cat and a very sweet one. Hope you the prospector and all the animals have a blessed day. Madeline

  7. Oh.My.Gosh. I loved this walk with Annibel :) She has the cutest butt. Can I say that? A wonderful Friday night story for me from the Farmlady and her Calico Cat. I have a Calico Cat now and she is full of surprises!

  8. I just enjoyed my first quiet morning of reading...all of your posts for the past weeks! I like it because I can escape my living room and enter your world!

    I saw a fox once, it was magical!

  9. I so enjoyed this post! Felt as though I was right there with you, walking along with Annibel...checking the orchard; spotting the fox! Our Posey cat sometimes follows us on walks, but we live in a small town with cars...so we carry her back home when she follows. I think she'd love your place!

  10. I want to go for a walk with you and Annie... this sounds so peaceful. What a delightful post.

    Thank you.


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