Monday, July 02, 2007

Farwell to the Black Cat in the Green Grass

The Black Cat in the Green Grass (aka "Shaq") has moved! Rather, the woman he shared an apartment with has moved. I'm sad he's gone, but glad that the woman didn't simply leave him, as people sometimes do when they move. Shaq was very welcoming to Mark and I when we first arrived, and he radiated a peaceful, mystical quality as he sat in the green grass in the early morning or late afternoon. I have no pictures of the Black Cat in the Green Grass actually in the green grass. As I said, he had a kind of mystical quality--Mark and I would see him sitting in the green grass from our window, but by the time we'd go down to greet him, he'd have moved out of the grass and on to other things.

Unlike Stinky or Finley, the Black Cat in the Green Grass never threatened the nestlings and fledglings and never salivated through the window at Lester. He was clearly enjoying his middle-age comfort. Stinky clearly had the upper hand in the apartment complex while he was around (even though the Black Cat outweighed him by several pounds), but they never got into any altercations. Really, the Black Cat was mostly interested in sitting in the Green Grass and smelling flowers.

The Black Cat in the Green Grass is very different from the two most important cats of my childhood: Patches (at left in my grandmother's sink) and Benjamin (at right in our house in Sedgwick, Maine before it was restored).

Patches' mother, Delilah, was quite secretive--she gave birth to her litter in a box of Christmas decorations. By the time I discovered Patches and her brother and sister, all of them had their eyes open. Delilah was a fairly indifferent mother, and eventually her sister, Oatmeal, who had also just had a litter, took care of all the kittens. When Patches became old and senile, she would wake me up in the middle of the night (her voice was very loud) to show me the catnip mouse she had "killed." I'd praise her for it and then hide the mouse to prevent her from waking me up again.

Benjamin was a stray. My aunt wanted to name in Marmalade, but he clearly was Benjamin. Benjamin used to fight with Pumpkin, the tomcat next door, and the two of them gave each other terrible gashes in the face on a regular basis. Pumpkin was one of several cats our neighbor Hetty fostered for the animal shelter. Eventually Pumpkin and Benjamin established their territories, but it took several months.

Benjamin would run away for days at a time but always come back. He'd even follow me on my walks to the cemetery behind our house--he'd keep an eye on me for hours, meowing every so often so he'd know I was there.

Even though I didn't know the Black Cat in the Green Grass as well as I knew Patches and Benjamin, he remains an important figure in my friendships with cats, and Mark and I will miss him.


Jessica Smith said...

I like the Black Cat in the Green Grass. Especially his name. Byebye cat.

mark wallace said...

The BC in the GG was also eager for a good scratching, although I had to stand still usually and let him walk up to me; if I approached him too definitively he'd sometimes run. But once up to a person, he would roll in the dirt first on one side and then on the other, wanting a scratch on the side of the belly but never under it. Scratches on the head were okay too but the side of the belly was the goal.

tmorange said...

benjamin looks like he's posing for his author photo.