In addition to being one heck of a writer, my blog buddy Amurin is a keen observer of the human soul (actually, there is probably a cause and effect correlation there that could go either direction, but you get my point). After reading my last two posts here and a handful of my twitter entries she wrote in a comment that I seemed a bit “storm cloudy.” Storm cloudy. Yup, she nailed it. For the last couple, three weeks I have been feeling like I’ve been sitting under a dark cloud. And while I recognize that like a storm cloud eventually it will pass and it will all be sunshine and rainbows and freakin’ unicorns, for the time being I’ve got this damn cloud following me around. I feel like Pigpen from the Snoopy comics who was always surrounded by billows of dirt and dust.
There are reasons for my storm cloudiness. Mostly, I blame it on the oppressive optimism of summer. I mean, it’s summer, I should be going somewhere, doing something, being outdoors and enjoying myself. You know, yay! it’s summertime and the living is easy. What. Ever. Stupid summer.
But seriously, what as been really heavy on my heart over the last few weeks is the well being of my little feral friends.
I have been taking care of Pretty and Gonzo O’Feral, my mother and daughter feral family, for well over three years now. Other ferals have come and gone (and one of them, another of Pretty’s daughters, Tangerine, now lives in my house), but Pretty and Gonzo feel like pets to me, except that they live outside and they don’t let me touch them. Even though they are feral, I feel the same responsibility to keep them healthy, safe and happy as I do towards my furry friends who share my home with me. And while they don’t let me pet them, they do offer me their trust, which is a rare commodity in a feral animal. And I feel honored.
Lately, however, I feel as if I have let them down. My girls are too scared these days to come up to their usual feeding area. And on the rare occasion that they do, they slink cautiously and look about nervously as they inhale their food. But mostly, when I go down to feed them they refuse to come up and instead just meow plaintively, hidden somewhere in the blackberry brambles below. I plead with them, promising them safety if only they will come up and have a bite to eat. Sometimes Pretty will take pity on me and come up and eat while I keep a lookout for whatever it is that is scaring them. Gonzo, though, just cries a few yards away, out of reach of predators and my good intentions.
My theory is that they are scared of Boots. Boots is a big beautiful grey and white male cat who used to live down the street, but was abandoned when his meth addict guardian was evicted. His care has fallen to the benevolent Bonnie Jo who feeds a flock of ferals about a half block away. Bonnie Jo and I have become pretty good friends as her coven of kitties often make their way over to my yard and eat the food I leave for my girls. She tries her best to keep her two troublemakers, Raisin and Boots, away from my yard, but it’s a losing battle. He’s a bit of an imperialist, that Boots. He keeps expanding his territory and isn’t afraid to fight for it. I fear he is the culprit who has been terrorizing my girls.
Both Bonnie Jo and I have been trying to dissuade Boots from hanging around my house and yard. It hasn’t been terribly effective. In fact, the more we try to convince him to leave, the more he has become a regular fixture and shows up like clockwork whenever he hears me leave the house to go feed my girls in the morning and evening. So, the other day, I decided to stop fighting Boots and have chosen instead to welcome him. I’ve set up his own feeding area beside my house, out of view of my ferals’ feeding area. Now, when he comes by instead of shooing him away, I feed him and give him lots of affection and attention. He’s really a sweet boy. Very affectionate. And handsome? Man, he is a handsome handsome boy.
I’m only about two days in the Great Boots Experiment. I hope that with his own dedicated Boots Only feeding area and lots of petting and scritches, he’ll leave my girls alone. And it is my deepest wish that with time, my girls will once again feel safe enough to not only eat, but loll about in my driveway and leave their dainty little paw prints all over my car. To see that again would surely help banish some of these storm clouds over my head.