Hot, sultry breezes ruffling the leaves, neighbors out walking, kids getting ready for the fireworks – it's Independence Day. Mrs. Peel and I have been celebrating our freedoms all day here – freedom to have breakfast, freedom to play with the feather-on-a-string-thing, freedom to take naps. What a country!
I am still savoring the sweetness of Western and Swing Week at Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camp, and am a little between worlds, as I always am when I first return home. That this holiday is falling right after camp is a blessing; it gives me one more day before I have to make sentences for humans.
You may remember that I had, at the last minute, lost my cat care person due to a scheduling conflict. I was a little frantic until I thought to ask friends who go to camp every year and live in the area if we could stay at their house. They generously agreed, and so Mrs. Peel had her first long road trip. It's one thing to be in her little crate in the car for as long as it takes me to move it for alternate side parking. She had done well with that. A two and a half hour car ride is another thing entirely, and she made quite a few objections, in the raspy baby voice she usually only uses for yelling about dinner. Imagine Tina Turner complaining in the passenger seat. She was obviously not happy.
When we arrived at the M's house, they were loading their car with camping gear, and getting their dog settled, so there was a fair hullabaloo going on. I took Mrs. Peel up to the guest room and let her out of her crate. She fled under the bed, and stayed there most of the next two days, until she felt safe. Then she started zipping and zooming around the room, exploring at high speed.
I traveled back and forth several times a day, to feed her and play with her, and I slept there at night, and it all worked out. We were both given little revelations. The sunny spot on the floor was a new experience for her, as our city windows don't get any direct light. She liked the warmth, and was entranced by the dust motes that dance in sunbeams. Watching her, I could see for the first time the faint tabby striping in what usually looks like a night-black pelt. There was a dressing table in the room, with three mirrors, each reflecting a cat who looked just like her. How alarming! Much posturing and puffing up and skittering ensued. But when the mirror cats proved incapable of coming up with any new ideas, Mrs. Peel lost interest. She then invented a new game to play: bat the ball hard. She's ready to join a soccer team as goalkeeper. Or, since balancing on a broomstick is as easy as lapping up cream, to be Keeper on a Quidditch team.
She ate well, she behaved beautifully, all this I expected. What I had not entirely anticipated was the effect of being able to bring her, how merry it would make me, even though it prevented me from staying at the camp itself.
On the way home, she voiced her complaints again, all the way to my sister's house, where I stopped in for a glass of cool water and a hug. Babette suggested Mrs. Peel might like Mozart. Once back in the car for the last leg of the trip, I turned on the radio, and found no Mozart, but – to my delight! – a station playing Louis Armstrong records from the 1930s. Perfect music to listen to after such a joyous week, at least for me. At the first sound of that golden horn, she stopped talking. Her ears flicked forward in interest. A minute or so later, she stretched, and yawned, listened a litle longer, and then fell asleep.
I should not have been surprised. Mrs. Peel is one hep kitty. And Pops? Well, he really was the cat's pajamas.