concerning Gustave the Orange Tabby Cat who has returned from death’s door to enjoy a life of warm nights inside accompanied by occasional adventures across wintry lake michigan countryside (with sidetrips to the chicken coop and silo)
When I was a boy I liked clambering onto the roof of the silo shed in the barnyard, the steel hoops which wrap around the concrete staves of the silo made getting up fairly straightforward as there were no vines back then and so once you got an awkward foothold up higher, the pitch of the roof was just right for an easy open-book and then I’d hide out for a little spying on my grandfather who was very fond of us children but despite his sense of humor didn’t suffer foolishness or halfwitting too well and being that he tended in particular to run out of patience very quickly with me because I couldn’t explain myself out of a paper bag even when given the chance, staying out of sight provided a rush of after-school adrenaline. There was added tension because of the inevitable angry wasps that always came flitting around, harassing and menacing with their ugly, stringy carapaces and stabby stingers. I was reminiscing with Adam last weekend about the tantalizing playground of rusting junk cars and farm equipment that lay scattered around nooks and crannies of the barnyard and that constant, heightened vigilance for stinging insects really came flooding back to me.
So it was that Adam and I journeyed to Lake Michigan country for several days at Grandma’s house for savoring gently falling snow, the smell of woodsmoke on the breeze and sunny, cold walks back to the pond. The snow was probably the last of the season so there was a certain pleasant finality to the flurries on Saturday morning, which went well with coffee and pajamas. The day before had been very sunny and my sister and I had taken our boys for a walk west into the woods where we explored around the pond and they threw snowballs at each other.
Adam and I returned to the woods by ourselves just a little while after the original foray, for some reason I really had it bad to show him an interesting area I’d found along the pondshore. En route, we shortcut past his other aunt’s house, through the old barnyard and lo and behold discovered Gustave the Orange Tabby Cat (or Gus, as he is better known by close friends) conducting investigations by the silo. That same morning, Adam and his cousin discovered an enormous raccoon apparently waiting out some sort of danger from the high inside-top of the silo and this had me a bit concerned for Gus who is a lover and not a fighter. He’s an exceedingly docile creature unlike the mentally imbalanced slasher-and-scratcher better known as Bubba, who came before him. Although Grandpa still speaks wistfully about Bubba, from time to time opining numerous armchair theories about a lack of oxygen to his kitten-head resulting in later emotional difficulties, that cat was nonetheless a terrific psychopath which was never more evident after he refused a perfectly fine adoption upon arrival at his new home with a loving family in the county just north, preferring instead to head directly to a nearby forest and there’s a 2:1 chance he’s doing fine for the most part (there are plenty of gullible widowers who leave table scraps on back porches).
I took a real liking to Gus. As a matter of fact, I almost let him sleep with me one night but for the disconcerting manner in which he burrowed himself into my crotch and I knew there was no way I could relax enough to fall asleep for fear of frantic clawing by a suffocating cat so Gus went back to his usual spot on the living-room sofa. At any rate, whereas Bubba would’ve jumped on my head to exert his dominance, Gus was so happy to see us he completely forgot he was on a roof and started rolling around with pleasure much to his peril. I got a handful of funnier, cuter shots but I liked this straight-on portrait for sharing. He’s not a real wildcat: Probably, he’s more at home on the sofa licking his privates and drinking out of the toilet bowl as is his wont, but he’s a survivor. Someone abandoned him when he was a tiny kitten and when he was found it looked as though he could have crawled out of a crack in the floor- he was so wretchedly emaciated as to resemble a finger puppet. Other than the goofy crook on the end of his tail, Grandma and Grandpa have done a masterful job helping Gus clean up. He’s an awfully nice cat to have around. And as a major bonus they’ve finally solved the dilemma of the terrible protozoa-caused feline farting that plagued their household this winter……