Saturday, August 6, 2011

All Fall Down

Dulcy and Ishmael selected me as their human my last year in Dayton. I’d been living alone, so their antics and purrs changed my life. They were barely five months old when we left Ohio and moved to New Hampshire. Before settling there, however, we traveled to Missouri to visit my family.            
            I was on a tight budget and couldn’t afford a motel for even one night. So I squeezed a pup tent on top of the bulging plastic bags and suitcases crammed in the car trunk.
            We got a late start, and without air conditioning, the car got uncomfortably hot. I rolled down the back windows a little so some air blew over the tops of the boxes on which Dulcy and Ish lay.
            When not dozing, they surveyed the countryside sanguinely as we drove through Indiana and then into Illinois. We’d traveled an hour into Missouri when fatigue settled in. I needed to stop for the night.
            Fortunately, I found a place to camp before the sun set. I retrieved the pup tent from the trunk and laid it out on the ground. With hammer in hand, I began to pound the stakes. It was then I realized just what drought meant. The ground was like cement. I didn’t have the strength to get even one of the seven stakes all the way into the ground, so I settled on halfway.
            Soon Dulcy, Ish, and I lay, spooned around one another, in the darkness of the tent. I quickly fell asleep, only vaguely aware that the wind was picking up.
            I awoke, disorientated, as a mighty gust swept across the campgrounds. Without warning, the tent folded in on me. The cats yowled in terror while I shouted “What? What? What’s happening?”
            It was dark. I couldn’t find my glasses. The cats were trying to claw their way to deliverance. The rain began to pelt the tent as I struggled to free myself from its clammy embrace. My one overriding fear was that the cats would run off into the night and I’d lose them.
            I managed to extricate myself from the wet tent and gather the kittens into my arms. They scratched. Yowled. Hissed at the rain. Tried to climb my chest to jump off my shoulders to freedom. I rushed to the car and dumped them unceremoniously inside.
            Back at the campsite, I got the tent back up and the cats and I settled down again. I’d just begun to doze when the whole scenario happened again. Tent collapses. Cats panic. Dee fears their loss.
            This time, we all three got into the car and drove off to the nearest motel. Sometimes you just have to spend money to enjoy the comforts of a bed that doesn’t collapse and comes without caterwauling.     


  1. Oh this brings back memories of my first camping trip with our kids. We got to the camp grounds and we were setting up the tents when out of no where a rain storm started that threatened to wash us all away. Shoving the kids in the tent that was already up Phil and I quickly put ours up grabbed the pups and stood dripping wet in our tent. Finally I gave up went back outside and we all went for a wet walk. It ended up being a ton of fun.

  2. Oh Dee, was it ok to be laughing? What a nightmare for you and the cats! Again, you tell the story so superbly. I understood the ending all too well. Sometimes, you just have to spend the money . . . and it usually works out ok in the end.
    This story reminded me of a camping tale gone crazy, without cats, though!

  3. I am not Mary-Camper so this would have started in a hotel for me, but I understand why yours didn't....& then, I understand again why it wound up there. The cats thank you. ~Mary

  4. Nothing like an unexpected night indoors, is there?

  5. Fantastic story, especially this: "The cats were trying to claw their way to deliverance. "

    What fun to read. Thank you.

  6. What an amazing perspective to write from. I LOVE this.

    Also, thank you for your sweet comment on my post yesterday ;)

  7. You were/are quite brave to undertake a long journey like that with a pair of cats. I am glad it all went well.

    One thing though: why couldn't the cats stay in the car overnight? Cats are totally adaptable, they would soon have snuggled in and it surely wasn't too hot at night?

    Or am I being stupid?

  8. Friko, you aren't being stupid--as if you could be! I was so tired from the move that I wasn't thinking straight and there was no kitty litter in the car! Hence the adventure.

  9. That was quite an adventure for you all! What a brave soul you are.

  10. I'm glad you all recovered and went on to live happily with each other!

  11. What an adventure! I know it probably felt more like an ordeal at the time, but I'm sure that, looking back on it, you're proud of having come through it all, relatively unscathed excluding the scratches and lacerations your kittens inflicted in their fear. You were very brave to have undertaken such an arduous journey unaccompanied.

  12. You must have been so glad to see the back of that campsite! I do love the way you tell a story...