While Gretchen was in the forest walking the dogs, I mowed our lawn so we'd have a nice place to drink our weekly Sunday morning coffee. Because of the peculiarities of our lawn, there is almost no shade anywhere in it at 9:30am near the summer solstice. There is, however, a spot partially-shaded by a White Pine directly around Sally the Dog's grave site, and so it was there that we had our coffee. It was unexpectedly pleasant there, with a good view across the freshly-mowed lawn of our increasingly-vibrant garden. There was also something good about being next to Sally's final resting place; it made us think of her and all the history we'd had with her. The living dogs stretched out nearby, Ramona in the pine cones nearly directly above Sally's buried corpse.
Meanwhile, cicadas are becoming increasingly abundant near our house. I finally managed to take a picture of one this morning while I was drinking that coffee.
Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.
Ramona rolling on something fragrant in the grass near where we drank our coffee.
At some point today I realized I hadn't seen Nigel the Cat all day and maybe hadn't seen him in several days. I asked Gretchen if she'd seen him and the answer was no. Then I looked around the house and all his usual outdoor haunts, but he had completely vanished. This wasn't like him at all. He has trouble with the pet door and normally hangs around in the driveway waiting for someone to let him in. If nobody shows up, he winds up sleeping in the garage. Niel often followed me down to the brownhouse, where he liked to sit in my lap while I took care of brownhouse business, and sometimes he'd follow me back to the house and I'd give him a lump of wetfood. The fact that he'd been absent for so long strongly suggested that something bad had happened to him. Perhaps an owl or a coyote had eaten him. It wouldn't be the first time one of our cats had mysteriously disappeared. But it would be the first time in a long time that this had happened. The last cat to vanish was Lulu in September of 2006, nearly seven years ago.
Mind you, Nigel had never been an easy cat to live with. He had a propensity for urinating in various unhelpful non-litterbox places (on the dog beds, on the shoes in the entranceway closet, in the paper recycling, and in several places in Gretchen's basement library). And while he got along okay with most of his "siblings," he had unusual animosity with Julius (aka "Stripey"), and the two would often get in vicious fights. Beyond all that, Nigel had kooky behaviors which would cause him to flee if you tried to pet him; he only wanted to approach you on his terms, usually when you were sitting or lying on the ground. Despite his flaws, we're going to miss the little guy and his splendid permanent tuxedo. He just wanted what anyone wants: a soft place to sleep, an occasional lump of food, and someone to rub his head and neck. We did what we could. We saved him from a miserable life in a cage at the Dutchess County SPCA and gave him three years of freedom and adventure. Being eaten by a wild animal is one of the risks of that sort of life. Here's a clip of me walking from the laboratory to the brownhouse last year and being accompanied by Nigel:
Today ended up being hot and sticky, and I was forced to fire up a fan to blow on me while I sat at my computer in the laboratory. Enough time had passed since the last rains that I also had to water the garden, though I managed to do it using only water collected in our two 55 gallon rain barrels.