Thursday, July 14, 2011

One Eccentric Cat

Dulcy died in July 1989. A week later, I visited the local animal shelter in Afton. There, a small, longhaired, gray cat chose me as hers. Her name—Eliza Doolittle—came to me when she groused the entire way home.
             We lived together for twenty years and five months. During that time, Eliza showed herself to be an independent feline, commanding love and attention in truly creative ways. With a note of pride, I tell you she was eccentric.
            In late September, when she was about four months old, a friend and I took her camping. We parked our car in the campsite driveway. A thick concrete strip lay at its end, effectively halting us. As we unpacked, I noticed that a small tunnel ran down the underside of the strip.  
            On the second day, I leashed Eliza to a nearby tree. She immediately lay down on the pine needles—sniffing the air, scanning the underbrush, perking her ears to the caw of birds.
            Suddenly she stilled. I followed her stare. A chipmunk was hunkered down under the car, its eyes intent on Eliza.
            It moved slightly; she edged forward.
            It moved again; she edged closer.
            Suddenly the chipmunk scampered out from under the car and into the tunnel of the concrete strip. Eliza raced after him but the leash brought her up short and she ignominiously fell on her rear end.
            I saw the chipmunk scurry out the other end of the strip. Eliza didn’t. Instead, she settled on her haunches and stared at the tunnel opening into which that accursed chipmunk had disappeared. She stared and stared and stared.
            Minutes passed.
            She continued to stare. Silent. Motionless.
            No movement from her or the chipmunk.
            Time passed with only staring and more staring and continued staring.
            Then, as if in slow motion, Eliza slumped sideways to the ground.
            She’d mesmerized herself asleep.
            Now that's eccentric!
            

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