THE BALLAD OF ROSIE AND GEORGE

Part one: Meeting

In the beginning, the Sun and the Moon met to divide the world between them. The Sun took the land, the Moon took the oceans, the Sun took the daytime, the Moon took the night time. The Sun took gold, the Moon took silver, the Sun took life, the Moon took death….

Then they had to divide up the living things and this was difficult. They discussed and they argued and they debated and they cogitated, and they decided to divide the living things of the world into two, so each would take half. Both were happy, until they came to consider the cat. Both the Sun and the Moon wanted to have guardianship over the cat, for she was truly the most beautiful living thing to walk the earth. They quarreled long and hard over the cat.

The Sun said “She is such a beautiful creature and her fur would glisten beneath my light and she would luxuriate in my warmth and her eyes would shine like emeralds and all the other beasts would have the opportunity to feast their eyes on her wonder, which they could not do if she were only to walk at night”.

And the Moon said “She is swift and lithe and she can pass silently through the world. She is a wraith, a spectre, a shadow who glides on feet of air, unseen, unheard. She is clever and resourceful, she lives on her wits and she can bend all other creatures to her will with just a flick of her tail or a glance from her emerald eyes. She is truly a daughter of the night and she belongs to me.”

The Sun had to admit that she had a point. He agreed that the cat truly belonged to the Moon, but he exacted a high price for his sacrifice. The Moon had to give up the flowers and the trees, the birds and the butterflies, the beasts of the field and the fish in the oceans (all bar a few, which he didn’t really want). But she was happy.

She had the cat.

Rosie:

I love that story. The Sun got the best deal on the face of it, he got all the fields and the forests and the gardens and most of the birds and animals and the hoomins, of course, but the Moon got all the interesting creatures. She got bats and rodents and bush babies and owls and foxes and badgers and moths…and us, of course. And, because she wanted us above all other creatures, we worship her as our mother and our protector and guide. She watches over us all and our ancestors sit with her and watch over us too. I know my nana is up there looking down – I have found her eye in the night sky – and all the others who have crossed the bridge too… that is why I love to sit and look at the stars and to study them. They are my favourite subject to talk about at the Great Circle. I love to study and learn. It gives me something to do when my hoomins are not awake.

What is the Great Circle? It is the way we she-cats communicate, one to the other, in an unbroken chain. We teach, we learn, we discuss, we debate. We swap news of friends and family, we send comfort to the frightened, the sad and the lonely. We encourage those whose journey is just beginning and we commemorate those whose journey has ended. We search for the missing and guide home those who are lost. Nothing is hidden from us. And we get to gossip, as well.

I just came from the Circle. It’s my favourite night – I get to chat with my daughter and all the other girls. Most of them share their homes with other cats. Lots of those cats join in the circle too – Ripley has her Lilly and Luna, Lacey brings Tucker, Glados is with one of the boys she raised, and young Tory has recently joined now that dear Tuffy has crossed the bridge and she lives with a whole army of boys. They all seem to be happy to share. I couldn’t imagine it. Sharing my hoomins and my toys and my blanket – nope, can’t imagine it.

George:

Bad day. I have no idea where I am. I’ve been bumped around in a tiny box, hauled out by my scruff, stood on a cold table in a bright and shiny room. I’ve had strange hoomins put their hands all over me and twist my ears and prise open my mouth and peer at my teeth and at one point they stuck something sharp in my bum… yowzah! Now I’m in another box. It’s a bit larger and at least there’s a warm blanket and some food and water and somewhere to pee. Too tired to think about it at the moment. I’ll try to figure this out after I’ve had a nap. Naps solve most problems, in my experience.

Rosie

Are you a lion or a tiger? I have researched with interest the lives of our larger, wilder cousins and I have been surprised at some of the things I’ve found out. The tiger is a fabulous beast..huge and handsome, secretive and solitary. She lives alone in the forests, seeing no-one and needing no-one, hunting by night and only meeting her kind when the urge comes to breed. Sometimes, I have dreamed that I am living alone in a dark forest, keeping to the shadows and living by my wits, hunting for meat or hooking fish from a cold stream. I have always believed that I was, by nature, a tiger – independent, resourceful, self-sufficient. The lion, on the other hand, lives on the open plains, where there is no cover or protection. She lives in a group with her extended family, hunting together, babysitting each other’s kittens, grooming each other and basking together in the sun, secure in the knowledge that the group will protect them from danger. I always thought there was a certain appeal to this kind of lifestyle, the comfort and comradeship, the feeling of protection and safety, waking up from a sleep to see a loved one nearby…but I never saw myself as a lion. No…I am a tiger. I function at my best when I am alone. Absolutely I do.

George:

You know the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”? Well, you can certainly teach an old (well, adult anyway) cat new tricks. I’m still in the big box, and there’s no way out, but I’ve learned the art of “working it”. According to my neighbour, it’s what you have to do if you are of the more…ahem…homely persuasion and you don’t want to live in a box for the rest of your life. I’ve seen the kittens going home with hoomins, bless them – and that makes me happy. I couldn’t bear the thought of those innocent little souls being cooped up, never experiencing the sheer joy of running just for the hell of it, and hiding just so you can leap out and pounce the next thing that passes. But I’ve also seen many, many cats who can only be described as “mature” being selected by hoomins – in fact, only yesterday, my neighbour himself was packed up in a box by two large and two small hoomins. They all seemed so happy… So, I carry on working it. I approach with confidence, I do my little chirrup, I head bonk the bars of the cage, I look them squarely in the eye and yell “TAKE ME HOME!” – nah, not really. I do all this, even though I would sometimes like to sit at the back of my cage with my face to the wall, wishing I was somewhere else. In general, I’m a very upbeat sorta kittie, but this place gets to you in the end. Don’t get me wrong, I am fed well and I’m comfortable and the hoomins are very gentle and kind but…the view never changes – three cage walls and the tabby across the way washing his nethers…I want more than this. Anyway, here they come – teeth ‘n smiles, Georgie boy…teeth ‘n smiles. Hang on, weren’t these two in the other day?

Rosie:

Ssshhhh! Not now! Something’s going on. Not sure what. Lots of activity…new bowls…new toys. Surely they won’t. Would they?

George:

So…I’m going home. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but the signs are good. My hoomins seem like good’uns and they were certainly impressed by my working it because, homely or not, they picked me. ME! I’m trying to act all calm here by lounging around in this moving box but my tummy is all in a knot. You see, my hoomins (MY hoomins!) smell, like so many of them do, of lilac bushes and cut grass and pine forests but, underneath it all, I can detect just the faintest wisp – the merest waft – of a she-cat. Could be trouble, or could be heaven. I’ll just have to bide my time and try to be patient. Just realised I’ve been gnawing my own toes for the last ten minutes – ouch! Calm, George….calm…

Rosie:

As a cat, my eyes are remarkable. I have a reflective layer behind my retina which improves my night vision, as well as making me look just a bit scary if someone shines a light in my face. I have a 20 degree greater field of vision than most hoomins so I can detect the smallest movement out of the corner of my eye and I do not need to blink to moisten them, which assists me by enabling me to focus long and hard and track small prey in the grass. Add to that the fact that they are delightfully almond shaped and the most beautiful shade of leaf green, and I can honestly say that my eyes are one of my best features. However, they are totally incapable of seeing anything through the slit around the bedroom door, however long I sit here with my eye pressed up against it. But I can hear him and I can smell him. I know he’s in there. I KNOW he is…

George:

Oh my! This is a turn up for the books. I’ve been shut in a room on my own – a million times better than my box before – clean litter, good meals, fresh water and a whole bed all to myself…I’ve been properly scent marking my hoomins, but I couldn’t help noticing a certain she-cat was doing the same…between us, we’ve pretty much overwhelmed the scent of lilacs and pine, but the hoomins don’t seem to mind. Then, the other day, they opened the door just a crack – and there she was. A goddess. That silken fur, those emerald eyes, those luxuriant paws and…that tail! I can only dream of having a tail like that – like a high cirrus cloud on a summer’s day. And…her face..full of intelligence and personality – even when contorted into a hiss..I can’t help noticing she has wonderful ginger chops, just like me. I’ve always thought they were my best feature, but on her… Yes, I am smitten. Last night, she came to the door and we whispered to each other. I understand that she is a little shocked at my sudden arrival, and she was quite clear in laying down her ground rules – no stealing her food, the left hand tower is hers, the blue kicker is hers, if I lose a mousie under the fridge and need it retrieving, she does the talking…but I think – I hope – we can become friends.

Rosie:

Oh my! This is a turn up for the books. He’s been shut in the spare room on his own for a while, but now he is out and walking around my territory. What shocks me is the fact that I don’t mind. He steps carefully, and respects my space. He smells a bit funny, but I think I did too when I first arrived. He isn’t handsome as such, but he has a friendly face and twinkly, laughing eyes. And I can’t help noticing he has wonderful ginger chops, just like me. I’ve always thought they were one of my best features. He’s lacking in refinement and sophistication, but that is just down to his lack of education. I can deal with that. I am a natural teacher. I will teach him about the stars and the moon and about cat lore and history and also vital life skills like how to kill a feather on a stick and how to cheat at the whack-a-mouse game. I have even told his name to the Circle, and commended him to the Moon so she can watch over him. I’ve told him who’s boss round here, of course, but I think – I hope – we can become friends.

George:

Was life ever not like this? Did I ever walk the streets at night and scavenge for scraps? Did I ever get into fights over morsels of rancid meat and have stones thrown at me for straying into the wrong garden? Or has life always been this, warmth and safety, a full belly, a choice – an actual CHOICE – of comfortable sleeping spots, loving hoomins to teach and an extraordinary and beautiful feline to learn from? She is a wonderful teacher, so full of learning and insight. Sense of humour too…I love to make her laugh. I am indulging our she-hoomin by letting her teach me to sing, which cracks Rosie up and I do it just for the joy of hearing her laugh. She has gradually allowed me to introduce her to the joy of sharing a sleeping spot – the warmth and softness of another body, the comfort of hearing someone breathing close to your ear and feeling a heartbeat under your head. She said it reminded her of the days when her kittens would pile on top of her and they would all sleep in a warm, twitchy heap for hours. She, in return, has been showing me the true meaning of cleanliness, especially around the ears. She doesn’t know how much I am comforted just knowing she is in the house with me. For a long time, I couldn’t believe they wouldn’t load me back into the box and take me back to the boring cage, where I would have to “work it” all over again, but she convinced me that all is well. You’re family now, she said.
Rosie:
Make yourself comfortable on the window sill or the small tower, so you can see the night sky to the north. Tuck in your paws and look up to where you can see the Great Cat’s Eye, the star that shines the brightest. You see, all the stars form patterns in the sky, and we give those patterns names. Now, look to the right of the Great Cat’s Eye, you will see nine stars which resemble a cat laying on its back with its paws in the air – well, that is called Old Tom. In the centre of those nine stars is a little cluster of seven stars, very faint. They are called The Kittens. Now, straight above the Cat’s Eye, you can make out a pattern of seven stars which might just suggest to you a fish, which is called The Fish (I never said the names were original, lol) and, below and to the left, a semi circle of eight stars which we call The Diamond Collar. The stars were named long ago by the thinker and philosopher cats of Egypt and Greece and the knowledge has been passed down from mother to daughter, father to son. But it would seem that, once upon a time, humans could understand the language of cats, as I have discovered that they name the stars too. Surely this tradition can only have been taught to them by our ancestors. There are two shapes in the northern sky which they call Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, the Great Bear and the Little Bear. They put me in mind of some humans I once met, so I have added them to our pantheon and named them The Father and The Son. I hope this will serve as my tribute to the kind humans who comforted me when I was confused and frightened and built a lovely warm den for my little ones and me. All the other stars, they are the eyes of our ancestors who have passed over the Bridge and are waiting for us on the other side. There is my nana, third star along at the right hand of the moon, and there is your grandad and your little lost sister next to him…George, are you OK? Your eyes have gone all misty… Come and sit next to me so I can baff your ears. You know, maybe I am more lion than I thought….

George:

Move over, then. I can’t fit on here with your enormous, floofy butt in the way. Turn a bit sideways…and shift your paw so I can at least park my posterior..not sure these towers are really built for two handsome beasts such as ourselves..

Rosie:

Ach..stop fussing. There’s room for the two of us wherever we need to be. Now sit still while I tackle these massive jug ears of yours..

George:

Ooohh…that feels good. Raspy, but good. A bit to the left please….Are we OK, Rosie?

Rosie:

Yes, George. We’re OK.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “THE BALLAD OF ROSIE AND GEORGE

  1. Jill, I love your stories and your writing. I’m not on Facebook so I haven’t been able yo comment before. Your imagination is amazing and your ability to put the images into words is just awesome. I am usually pretty articulate but I am so moved and excited and comforted and, and, and, that I cannot find the right word/words to describe the effect (I so dumbstruck that I can’t figure out whether affect or effect is correct word to use here.) your writing has on me. Thank you for your stories and especially for taking the risk to make them so public.

    Keep the stories coming and if there is ever anything I can do to help, please let me know, although, unfortunately I can’t offer any money.

    Love, Debby Yager

    Like

  2. I’m glad you enjoy the stories, Debby. I hope that making them public doesn’t prove to be too risky. I enjoy writing them and I want them to be accessible to the people for whom they are written – the Kitten Cam community – so here they are. Waiting now for new kittens…

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s