On cat days

When I dance, I dance; when I sleep, I sleep; and when I am walking alone in a beautiful orchard, if my thoughts are sometimes elsewhere, for most of the time I bring them back to the walk, to the orchard, to the sweetness of this solitude, and to me.

–Montaigne, Essays

1

Watch the tabby cat. She basks and when she’s not basking, she preens. Anon, she stretches her tummy toward the earth and sky. Maybe she takes a bite or two. Or maybe her paws need flexing, so she flexes them a few times. That’s enough. The shimmering blinds now catch her eyes. Not now, though. Later perhaps. She basks some more, then awakes. Ah, the blinds: they’re stirring still she sees. Like a dancer, she catches them off guard, mid-swat.

When she has a minute to herself, she consults her checklist: play, bask, sleep, eat, swat. Yes.

 2

Do you know that, in the winter, I like to wake up before the sun? I like to sit and watch the sun come up from my window seat. In the spring, I wake up with the sun but in the winter before. In the winter, I sleep longer and move more slowly. I can’t help it. It’s OK.

At 9 o’clock, I pause and listen for a moment, sometimes two, to the church bells ringing nearby. Ah, still out of tune, still lovely. At noon, the same, also the same tune. At 6 o’clock, it is now dark, has already been dark since half past 4.

A few weeks ago, the churchmen threw me for a loop. They changed the tune on me. At first, I was sad, a little, a little sad, but after a while I grew to love the 6 o’clock song as much as I love the 9 and 12.

In winter, my body gets tired early. Reading is the first chapter of sleeping. But before going to bed, I like to lie on the floor and think about the day. I think about the people I help, and I wonder whether I’m helping. At all. Enough. Ever. Enough. Sometimes I’m sad because–I don’t know why–maybe it’s because I said the wrong words at the wrong time or maybe it’s because I misled her by accident. But, to be honest, most of the time I’m not sad. I think I’m doing good and I think they’re doing good. To me, the day was sweet.

Further Reading

Andrew Taggart, “Spiritual Exercise: On Giving Pleasures Their Due”

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