Moses absorbs the sun on her fur and from the bricks until it gets too hot, then she moves into the shade of the barrel of pole beans, her favorite shady spot.
The beans are growing, the geraniums are blooming, the sun is bright and hot, and I remember a certain sweet gray kitty who spent every available moment on the brick patio next to my garden, summer and winter, and each time I look at the florid overgrowth out there I remember how Moses enjoyed the little brick patio. Other kitties would come and go during the day as the heat and their interest waned, but Moses was serious about her outdoor time.
Her reign as a Garden Sprite lasted from very early in my years here, about 1992 until just before her death in February 2006. A physically limited formerly feral kitty, Moses never asked for much, but was passionate about what she felt she should have. Her hips and hind legs were wasted and her muscles weak the day I took her in in 1987, and while she gained more strength than I ever imagined she would in those legs she was never able to run or jump, instead climbing on the rare occasion she felt the need to be off the floor, and hopping like a bunny for a few steps when walking somewhat quickly wasn’t getting her there quickly enough. As she grew older those hind legs and hips began to develop arthritis, and while I tried many treatments for her from glucosamine and chondroiton capsules to herbals and homeopathics, she resisted having anything administered to her however gently, and the best I could do was add homeopathics to the household water bowls.
Instead, one day as I worked in the garden, she came to the basement screen door. Once Moses came indoors there was no turning back, and she didn’t even look outside, in part fearful of what was out there. But she’d been lying in the sun coming in the basement door and followed it across the floor as it moved…out the door. Well, what was a kitty to do? She looked at me hopefully with that lovely gray tabby face, and gave me one of her sweet, silent meows. I could deny her nothing, my eternally gentle and humble little bodhisattva, and under the spell of her soft green eyes I opened the screen door and let her walk outside. She stepped out the door, let me close it, and laid down on the sun-warmed concrete slab, which was where her sun had gotten to. Through the day, as I weeded and trimmed and transplanted and harvested, she moved along with the sun, sipping now and then from the water bowl I’d brought out.
And so began nearly 15 years of daily thermonuclear treatments for Moses. Summer and winter she had to have time on her bricks, or at least on the wooden deck, even if only 15 minutes. I never let her go out without me so her days during the week were abridged, but when I began working at home she was in her glory; at her advanced age the increased time in the sun, the activity and the sweet pleasure for her probably gave her more years than she otherwise would have had, and made her last years more comfortable for her. I closely watched her, especially as she grew deaf in her later teens, but she never even walked into the garden, staying on the bricks covering about 20′ x 20′, rolling herself lazily over from one side to the other so that she was evenly toasted, and watched with sleepy amusement as birds landed around her and little voles and field mice ran across her paws.
I have a series of similar photos of her in my boxes of prints from years gone by, and I’ve been sorting through them to find these wonderful vintage photos I’d nearly forgotten. I had scanned the print and because the colors were odd—the effects of bad printing and a little bit of aging—I adjusted the color here but there’s still too much red; an aftereffect of Fuji film, so I discovered in comparing prints on Fuji and Kodak. But I’m also now scanning the negatives and getting completely different results from other photos, so it wasn’t entirely the film. Once I find all the negatives and scan them, this will be one of the series of four I call “Moses’ Summer in the Garden” with photos from June, July, August and September. You’ll see these soon as notecards and other paper products and some housewares.
That particular set of photos is not in full color, but desaturated, in part so I could make the colors consistent across two decades, across film and digital, and even different film types and digital cameras, and the softly faded colors were just so…so Moses. Here is the desaturated version.
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Photos pulled “From the Archives” were taken by one or another digital camera of mine between 2002 and, well, yesterday, but usually they are older than that, and I had never had the chance to feature them. Vintage Photos are from my film archives back to 1983 when I purchased my Pentax K-1000 camera. They’re a fun way to “introduce” other members of my feline family who came and went before I began blogging, and to illustrate my feline family in general from days gone by.
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