It seems September is for memories…when the sunlight in the morning reminds me of these two, just as the green leaves are turning yellow and all the flowers are still blooming, that poignant mix of past, present and future that happens as the year wanes in autumn.
Moses, 19, and Stanley, 23, enjoy the gentle autumn morning sun on the deck in the summer of 2005, a scene I photographed on many a morning, this being my favorite. This was Moses’ last summer; Stanley was with me for one summer past this one.
Beautiful autumn mornings always bring memories of earlier days for me, and as Mimi and I stepped out onto the deck I remembered Stanley and Moses joining me outdoors, creaky and stiff, but warmed by a nap in the sun. Cookie and Namir had to stay inside, and sometimes I’d see Mimi quietly watching us from the garden. My yard is not fenced, and Stanley had a habit of darting off unexpectedly, while Cookie, a youthful 14 at this time, and Namir at 12, would sometimes wander off in opposite directions, while Moses, deaf by that time and fairly hobbled with arthritis, happily slept in the sun on the deck then moved down to the bricks when the deck was in shade. The two geriatric cats had natural seniority and always had their time outdoors. If they came in while I was still in the garden or working on the deck, Cookie could join me as well as Namir, and they did have the opportunity fairly frequently.
Moses always had problems with her knee joints especially, which had never fully formed and always kept her at a slow walk, and pretty much on one level; I set up a series of footstool and chair next to my bed, and she could slowly walk up steps, preferring the second floor. No medications seemed to make a difference and I couldn’t find an alternative practitioner near enough to get her acupuncture, which I sensed would work for her. Instead, she only asked for her daily thermonuclear treatment, simply lying in the sun for at least 15 minutes, even in winter. Only the outdoors would do for this; she preferred the sun-warmed bricks outside the basement door, but the weathered wood of the deck worked for her as well, and her silver tabby fur seemed to hold the heat after she’d come back inside.
Stanley had been with me for 21 years when he passed two years after this photo, and we estimated his age between 3 and 5 when he showed up my porch. After seeing many more cats in that age range over the years, I would guess Stanley was closer to the high end of that span in part because of details in his eyes and body structure that I recognize now. Three years seems kind of juvenile for him at that time, though his swirly stripes and white paws and chest always made him seem youthful. He had slipped into chronic renal failure at age 21 and I dosed him with sub-cutaneous fluids anywhere from daily to twice monthly from then on, but he thrived even with that, enjoying every moment of ranging about the yard, downloading his “pee-mail” from the foliage and uploading responses.
My deck hasn’t changed much in these years. Every summer I still have the pot of basil on one side and parsley on the other, often a cherry tomato plant that grows all over everything and flowers in pots wherever they get enough sun, although the wonderful red-apple hummingbird feeder finally cracked and couldn’t be repaired. I’ve had that since I moved in, and it’s in photos of my deck, yard and house for all those years, like a permanent accent, and whenever I see it in a photo I truly miss it. Not as much as I miss those cats, though.
. . . . . . .
Rainy Day Kitchen, 2010
Cookie and Peaches curl in little tri-color bundles on the cabinet in the middle of the kitchen on a chill, damp rainy day…four years ago, hard to believe. Peaches was enjoying every moment, though with some difficulty; she was suffering from renal failure and general old age at 20 years old, but she wasn’t concerned, she just found a comfortable spot and had a long afternoon nap. After all, she could still get up on that cabinet without any trouble.
Cookie stayed with her during her last month and while Peaches had always, and still, enjoyed the energy and company of her much younger feline siblings in the Fantastic Four, she easily accepted Cookie’s vigilance, much closer to her age and quite full of the wisdom of it all.
Today was not rainy but was a rather dark and chill day like this day but the kitchen was warm and bright; I don’t remember what I was doing that day, canning, making a big pot of soup or baking something, but I remember the company of my girls, and reaching out to just put a hand one of them and then the other now and then as I was working. They were so accustomed to this from me they didn’t even wake.
I didn’t post this photo at that time; something else was happening or I ran out of time to post that day, but the boys spent part of the day in the kitchen with me, and it reminded me of this.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!