Thursday, October 05, 2006

Walking the Cat

Our cat Elijah loves to go for walks. He trots along behind, stops to smell things, gets all zippy, and bolts ahead. Stops to smell things again while we catch up. It is how we met him, before he was our cat. We went for a walk, and he came along. He is very charming about it, the way he prances so proudly, stopping to be admired. And he doesn't just follow for a little while, then get distracted and melt away, forgetting about us. Nope, not this cat: he's got focus.

The old neighborhood was more urban, big old houses on tree lined streets just off a busy thoroughfare with a bustling little commercial district. All our promenades were along sidewalks, very tame sorts of affairs. Elijah didn't mind. He loved to walk around the block. So much so that if we were going down to the commercial district to pick up takeout for dinner, we'd have to sneak off, not wanting to be followed onto the busier main street. We were rarely successful. But Elijah knew better than to mess with traffic. He waited patiently behind a privet hedge, and resumed the pitter patter footsteps when we came back his way, laden with catfish burritos or moussaka.

Our house is only a mile or two from the old neighborhood, but it's more laid back here. We can go for walks around the block without worrying too much about traffic. Except we rarely do, because we have the woods, and we walk there now. Although it seems unlikely that he's ever spent much time in the forest before, Elijah loves the woods. He might play the cool cat and ignore us in the backyard, yet as soon as he sees us heading to the path, he cannot be deterred in his blurred sprint across the lawn and up those first few steps.

Photo by SodaBoy

The tiny little path that starts in our backyard empties after a few hundred feet into "the open area," a big field that appears to have been heavily disturbed a number of years ago. Bare gravel is still evident, but succession is at work now, and the open area is flush with pioneer species and exotics: goldenrod, asters, knapweed, sweet clover, butterfly weed, sweet pea, autumn olive, dogwoods, and buckthorn. The open area stretches most of the length of our block, and from it spurs a whole network of footpaths so tiny they are almost invisible.

We love to go explore those deer trails with Elijah. He crashes through underbrush like a champ, scurries up hills, crawls through ditches, and scampers over berms. Weather does not phase him. We turned back towards home one blisteringly hot summer day when he started panting on a steep hillside, because he certainly wouldn't have the good sense to turn back alone. We still have to sneak off on him sometimes, when we hike to the quarry or the water towers or the cemetery, as he's just too small to go for miles long hikes. It is almost like he is powerless not to follow. If he has any say in the matter, Elijah is a comrade on all foot campaigns departing from the house.


Erin said...

What a charming little bugger!

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Cool photos and story! :-D

You're so lucky to have woods behind your house, wish we did.