First Person with Nancy Rose, Pelham: Labor Day comes and goes, Elizabeth Warren stays
It started with the cat door. Flattened by illness in 2012, the daily get up, sit down, get up to let our cats out, then in, then out again, was wearing on me. Despite being mother and daughter, our cats avoided each other, but my slovenliness forged a bond between them. I sensed collaboration — She’s rested for 10 minutes. Time to get her up.
I proposed a cat door, on the sunny front of our west-facing garage. Our cats like to loll. My husband preferred the back, so as to not spoil the lines of the house (he actually said that).
“They hate the back of the garage,” I argued, but I lacked sufficient energy to plead my case.
My husband of 40 years would honor my request. Right?
The cat door arrived and sat in its unopened box for weeks. I went to the hospital for another spa treatment and returned home to find the cat-door installed … on the back of the garage. OK, not worth an argument. It looked good.
Our two girls didn’t like the cat door. Pushing the plastic flap against its magnet took effort.
Our girls don’t exert themselves. I got up, sat down, let them in, out, in again. The cat door grew cobwebs.
One October evening, when I refilled the dry cat-food bowl from the large bag in the garage, I noticed it was half-full. Weird, since it was a new bag. And, the flap was missing from the cat-door. Later that night, I ventured into the garage to empty trash and found two large raccoons and five babies scarfing cat food from the bag’s chew-holes. They sauntered through the cat-door and disappeared into the night. I moved the cat-food bag, much of its contents streaming onto the floor, to a metal container, then noticed birdseed had been scattered and the squirrels’ corncobs shucked.
Since our girls weren’t using the cat-door anyway, we decided to seal it. A weekend project, my husband said. He’d need a few days. Uh huh.
On Nov. 6, I returned from voting to find a skinny black cat warming herself in front of the freezer’s exhaust vent. She was young, emaciated and visibly pregnant (I was an OB nurse; I know pregnancy when I see it). I laid a blanket on the floor and left water and dry food.
After several days and no response from notices left in mailboxes (Is this your cat?), I lined a dog crate with blankets. This new cat had arrived on Election Day, so we began calling her Elizabeth Warren. She was settling in, but she was an interloper and our cats would have nothing to do with her. They stayed in, she stayed out. The cat door remained open. I left food and water. She grew huge. I Googled cat pregnancy, studied the signs of impending labor, and figured any minute now. I’d wake in the middle of the night to check on her.
By Christmas, Elizabeth Warren had passed what should have been her lying-in and she was still eating a ton. Or so I thought. While she slept in her now-heated crate-condo, wildlings visited nightly and helped themselves to her food. There were the regulars: two raccoon mothers and babies, three opossums and — I am not making this up — a young coyote, who didn’t interfere with, nor shy from, the other wildlings. Elizabeth Warren was blasé about her company. Talk about lions and lambs. We witnessed miracles that Christmas.
As I write this, Labor Day 2013 approaches and Elizabeth Warren still looks pregnant. She’s not, wasn’t, and in fact, had been spayed. OK, OK, evidently, I am not the OB nurse I thought I was. Our other cats have accepted her. The three of them sleep on our bed and the cat-door is closed at night.
The wildlings still visit, ever hopeful that our soup kitchen is serving. They eat our blueberries and strawberries, and pig out in our vegetable garden. A few nights ago, I sat on the patio playing Clue with two of our daughters, when a raccoon emerged from beneath the Solomon’s seal and stared at me. I expected her to tap her wristwatch, reminding me, It’s 8:30. Where’s dinner? She studied me for a while and, I admit, I felt guilty for not dashing into the house for some Cheerios. I didn’t, and she left, but she looked back at me from the edge of the garden, hoping, I imagine, that my OB-nurse-brain would click on.
Nancy Rose lives in Pelham, with her husband, Chuck Weeber.
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