Thursday, February 23, 2006

Wild Thing

Wild thing
You make my heart sing
you make everything

You have to be pretty old to remember where those lines came from. A big Silas purr to anyone who knows. ( Yes, I do and I probably had the record)

I remember the first day I took Fergus outside. It was a mild day in November and he was maybe ten weeks old. He sat in my lap wrapped up in a blanket on the swing in our backyard and looked around with big eyes. I know he had been outside before since he was rescued as a tiny stray. But kitten days probably have short memories and it seemed new and exciting and scary to him, he didn't want to get off my lap and we went inside soon.

Then the long snowy ( usually) winter set in and the animal family retreated to the fireside. Silas joined us and the two kittens had a grand time wrecking the house every night. Fergus learned to climb on the carpet covered trees.

In early spring the sun warms up a spot in the back yard and we shovel it out and sit at our picnic table. Fergus was ecstatic. The whole world was coming to life and it was all his. I watched nervously as the kittens expanded their territory as the snow melted. We supervised all "uter" periods.

When spring was finally here I began to walk Fergus on a leash which he didn't mind at all as long as he got to go out. Silas just seemed more like a sensible, ambling kind of guy while Fergus was wild eyed, full speed ahead and over confident. I was spending about two hours a day walking Fergus. It was the highlight of his day. We have three Olof made ponds here and they were hopping with frogs. And it's so much fun to make them say Yikes! (if you are a kitten)

I would walk Fergus around and around the ponds. Sometimes I would let him off the leash still wearing the harness and sometimes he would disappear and I would worry.

We have a very nice place here for cats. We are below the road in a valley that has our house and studio on hilly land. The river is below us and you can see the mountains. Our land has a steep bank and a wet forest with a brook that flows to the river. I would take both kittens down there and walk along the brook. You can walk all the way to the river and we used to do that with Finnegan and Brendan following us. The older guys were cautious in the big woods and they would stick close by us, but the kittens were off in both directions and it got a little nerve wracking.

But it became obvious as summer arrived that a couple of hours on a leash wasn't enough for Fergus. Olof kept telling me I was going to have to let go. And then one day I came in the house and Fergus was in his chair. Brendan was out enjoying the sunshine. And Fergus raised his head and looked at me so sadly. I knew I was going to have to handle my fears.

I opened the door and let him out. No leash. He ran around like a puppy and for the first time explored where he wanted to on his own. I tried not to panic.

Olof and I were watching out on the lawn and Fergus came running up to us joyfully.

"I got my license!" he said.

After that I let him out every morning and he was so happy. He would have a thrilling time hunting mice, tormenting frogs, exploring the neighbors barn and climbing trees. By three in the afternoon he would be happily exhausted and at peace, sleeping in his chair.

I know I could have lost him on the road or he could have had a heart attack in the woods and I would never have known what happened to him. But I took that risk and I had a happy little cat. Now I am glad I did. He loved the outside world and he let us know how much he loved it. He had fufilled his inner tiger.


The Meezers said...

My cats have always been afraid of the outdoors. Trixie and Norton were abandoned in the middle of a busy road, and once inside, were deathly afraid of the outside. Ralph was afraid becuase they were. It was only in the last 2 years of Ralph's life that he would enjoy going out on the patio only and laying on the warm concrete in the sun. Trixie and Norton started to like going out on the patio to investigate the herb garden. Norton once wandered into the grass, took 5 steps, turned around and shreiked the most gawdawful "RRROOOOOWWWW" and I had to go resuce him from the grass.

animalfamily said...

gosh, i remember those lines...

Beau said... mom is going around singing that and looking for something called a record. heehee! That was a very beautiful story...heartwarming. Mom only lets me out on my leash, which is fine with me as long as I get outdoor time. I don't like going far anyway. Thanks for sharing that story!

George, Tipper, Max & Misty said...

Groovy! Yes, we are over the hill if we remember what that means.

What great pictures - so clear & bright.

Patches & Mittens said...

Mom loved the story, loved the picture and yes she remembers the song.