The Garden Bean, a Vintage Photo

gray tabby cat in shade of bean plants
The Garden Bean

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, but especially on Saturday, my traditional gardening day. 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 not 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 sparkling 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 think this is from 2002 or 2003, so Moses would be in her teens, but it could easily be from the mid to late 90s. I’ll find out as I keep digging through my boxes.

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 desaturated the color here, and I like it that way. But I’m also now scanning the negatives and getting completely different results from other photos. 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.

See other photos of Moses on The Creative Cat and read the story of her rescue and life. I apologize that when you look through the archives that each of the posts doesn’t have a featured image; these were moved over from my first free-hosted Creative Cat and I’ve been catching up with setting featured images since I’ve moved.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.

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11 thoughts on “The Garden Bean, a Vintage Photo

  • Pingback:The Creative Cat - Vintage Photo: September Morning in the Garden

    • July 17, 2012 at 9:05 am

      Layla, they increase in value as time goes on.

  • July 16, 2012 at 11:37 am

    What a wonderful story, Bernadette. And what a wonderful comrade and gardening buddy you had. The phrase gets over-used, but this was definitely a heart connection and a deep one.

    • July 17, 2012 at 9:39 am

      Tammy, I felt another world whenever I looked into Moses’ eyes, and I meant it when I called her a bodhisatthva. She was not meant to live, I unknowingly saved her and her little being became yet more perfect in this lifetime. She thanked me every single day.

    • July 15, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      Susan, thank you for taking the time to tell me.

  • July 14, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Such a beautiful photo, Bernadette, but the story behind the picture makes it even more lovely. How did you come to name her Moses?

    • July 14, 2012 at 8:11 pm

      Chris, thanks! It’s tied to her rescue. In short, Moses was so malnourished when I caught her that her little pubic bones were poking out from beneath her tail and looked like baby peanuts. I was new to rescue but not to cats, and her skin was so loose, her other “openings” so shriveled and lost, and even her limbs felt flexible I might still make the mistake today. It was a rainy day, she ran away, ran out of energy, got tangled in some long wet grass and fell partway into a puddle. When cats, or any animal, is that weak and close to death their expression clouds over and they tend to look peaceful and wise, and this tiny, grizzled little gray kitten was all those things. I named her Moses for the baby found in the bullrushes and rescued, even though I didn’t expect her to live. If you click on the second link about her rescue, you’ll read more. She was incredibly special.


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