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A Serious Question

September 7, 2015

IMG_3432Is there anything prettier than an orange kitten stalking a white butterfly through the summer grass? I don’t think so. I was trying to remember poems I’ve read about kittens and butterflies, but this children’s poem is the only one I found:

A Serious Question
by Carolyn Wells

A kitten went a-walking
One morning in July,
And idly fell a-talking
With a great big butterfly.

The kitten’s tone was airy,
The butterfly would scoff;
When there came along a fairy
Who whisked his wings right off.

And then–for it is written
Fairies can do such things–
Upon the startled kitten
She stuck the yellow wings.

The kitten felt a quiver,
She rose into the air,
Then flew down to the river
To view her image there.

With fear her heart was smitten,
And she began to cry,
“Am I a butter-kitten?
Or just a kitten-fly?”

This poem makes me think of the Catwings books, by Ursula K. LeGuin: Catwings, Catwings Return, Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings, and Jane on her Own. These winged cats don’t cry over the semantics of their situation, but use their wings as any properly curious cat would, to see what they will do and how far they can take them.

When I posted the photo of Pippin about to pounce on the butterfly to Facebook, a friend of mine who is a dog-lover made a comment about the Heart song Dog and Butterfly, which is now a persistent earworm every time I go outside with Pippin:

See the dog and butterfly
Up in the air he likes to fly
Dog and butterfly
Below she had to try
She roll back down to the warm soft ground, laughing
She don’t know why, she don’t know why
Dog and butterfly.

FullSizeRender (1)Pippin and I have a new routine now that Eleanor and Walker have moved out. He keeps me company on the desk or the table when I work at home in the morning, and sleeps when I go to the office in the afternoon. I get home around 5, change clothes, put on his collar, get myself a glass of iced tea or wine, and we go outside. Usually I start out sitting on the glider. One day, after exploring, Pippin decided to hop up and join me for a while.

There are lots of caterpillars inching themselves around the lawn furniture, and sometimes I hum the “inchworm” song to them, about measuring the marigolds. When Pippin gets too far away, especially when he’s up a tree, I sing his song to him, two lines of melody copied from somewhere with adapted lyrics that go “They call him Pippin, Pippin, Lord of the Trees…”

The baby birds that were raised in a nest inside my begonia have all flown away. IMG_3420Earlier in the summer, I went to water the begonia on the side of the nest, as I had been watering it for weeks, and one of the babies had gotten out of the nest and flew/fell out of the plant onto the deck. Eleanor caught it several times in a butterfly net and tried to put it back into the plant, and it would propel itself out again while its parents shrieked and I tried to keep Tristan and Pippin away from it. Finally she took Pippin to the other side of the house (Tristan had lost interest) and I picked it up in my hands and put it far enough back inside the begonia that it couldn’t jump out again immediately. I think all the babies learned to fly in the next few days, though, because the next time I poked the watering can in there, very hesitantly, the nest was empty.

Empty begonia and empty house. Time enough to let the kitten lead me through the spiderwebs around the shady side, to hear the crickets and watch the ants running back and forth in the late afternoon sun. It’s a good end to the day, the part where I don’t have to know why about anything, but just follow where the kitten leads. Soon he will get big enough to go outside on his own. Then I guess I’ll have to make an extra effort if I want to do something aimless.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2015 9:20 am

    Love that Pippin! I want a kitten so badly. All our old cat does is moan about things – really, he has perfected the whiney miaow and spends his entire time waiting for someone to accompany him to his bowl. No, ‘waiting’ is the wrong word – pestering us to take him there is more like it. As if he doesn’t know where it is! I think it’s feline Alzheimer’s. Pippin is adorable, and I love the poems, too.

    • September 8, 2015 10:44 am

      Our old cat, Sabrina, doesn’t think Pippin is all that adorable. He does give her something to moan about, though. And as a plus, she gets to eat his kitten food, which probably isn’t all that bad for her, as she’s been losing weight in that way old cats sometimes do.

  2. September 7, 2015 9:43 pm

    What a cutie, that little Pippin baby! It sounds like he’s leading you a merry dance, but it’s nice that you and he have established a routine.

    • September 8, 2015 10:48 am

      Yes, cats are all about routine, including the routine of the merry dance! Our housemate Miriam used to say that if you hit a cat on the head at the same time every day, pretty soon the cat would start showing up for it.

      Tomorrow our routine will be broken, as Pippin has to get neutered. I’m dreading this, as I haven’t ever had to wait for a cat to undergo surgery as an adult–before this, we’ve always gotten our cats from the local shelter, where they have already been spayed or neutered. The worst part will be having to get up extra-early, when Ron usually feeds the cats, and find a way to distract a very hungry kitten who can’t eat before I take him to the vet’s at 10:30 am.

  3. September 8, 2015 3:56 pm

    Pippin is getting so big! Such a pretty kitty too. Sounds like the two of you have a very pleasant routine worked out 🙂

    • September 19, 2015 8:09 am

      Yes, we’ve resumed our routine now that he’s healed up from his neutering. We’ll have to gradually establish some new routines as daylight savings time approaches, and my water aerobics class resumes from 5-6 pm.

  4. September 9, 2015 4:05 pm

    Pippin is so sweet and looks like the perfect companion for your new quietness around the house. I really do think cats know just what we need.

    I’m not familiar with these poems but I enjoy reading Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats to the littles. I bet they’d like these as well!

    • September 19, 2015 8:13 am

      He is a good companion right now. And yes, we refer to the Eliot poems (sometimes to music) a lot around here. “Always on the wrong side of every door” and “contemplating his name” are two of the most frequent.

  5. September 18, 2015 9:24 pm

    I love the poem and think Pippin is a doll!

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