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Friday, May 22, 2015


I am bad with transitions. If everything stayed the same in some kind of miraculous steady state called the here and now, I would be fine. But no matter how many changes I have experienced in my life, any time something visibly changes right before my eyes, it throws me.

Things change gradually. Most of the changes are so small, that we do not notice them. Is Bow bigger today than yesterday? Is he more mature? I cannot tell. When does the youthful yellow dandelion transition to being a fuzzy white elder? Most of the time you cannot tell, because the moment of transition goes by unnoticed.

But if we do notice a transition in the making and stop to wonder about it, it looks a little awkward.

Yesterday evening, I went to feed the kitten in the barn, but long before I got there, in the distance, I spotted the kitten sitting patiently outside in front of the barn, waiting for me to show up. That threw me so badly that I turned around and went right back in the house.

I took the picture this morning, when the kitten showed me it can go out

Well, to be more precise, I went back to get my camera, so I could take a picture of the kitten sitting in front of the barn. But by the time I returned, the kitten was not in front of the barn anymore. It was meowing at me helplessly from inside the barn, just as it had every day before, as if it did not know how to leave. Was this assumed helplessness an act it had been putting on for me for weeks now, just to get me to feed it?

Mind you, the barn is not even fully enclosed, so there was nothing keeping the kitten from leaving it all along. But just as it seemed unable to leave the stroller at first, later it seemed to be totally unaware that there was an easy way out of the barn.

The barn is where I used to paint along with Sword, while Bow watched us from the playpen. That was when Sword was four and Bow was a year and a half. It's in the barn that I painted most of the illustrations for In Case There's a Fox.

When I have not been looking, the kitten seems to have been rearranging some of the things in the barn and playing with used up paint canisters.

This morning, the kitten waited for me in the barn, but it did not hesitate to show me that it could in fact step over the threshold and into the grass.

At what point should I stop feeding it and expect the kitten to start earning its own keep? I am confused. It looks so tiny and helpless, and if it wandered outside in the field, it would make some hawk a very nice meal. So I feel a little protective seeing it wander outside alone. But on the other hand... how else is this supposed to work? And am I assuming too much about the kitten's age based on its size? How long had it been in the barn before I discovered it? Could it be much older than I think, but small because underfed?

I spotted two daisies in the woods today. One was very tall, and the other was very short, but they both were blooming.

Looking at the daisies, one is tempted to say, "There is an adult daisy, and that's a baby daisy." But I don't think that's how it works with daisies. If they have flowered, then it means that they are both sexually mature. The big daisy must have somehow had access to more nutrients and more sunlight, so it grew big and tall. Or, alternatively, it could have a genetic difference that makes it stay small. Or it could be a combination of the two factors.

They say we should live in the moment and not worry too much about the past or the future. But the true significance of each moment would be lost on us, unless we saw them in the greater context of the moments that came before and the moments to come.

The honeysuckle is just starting to bloom, and its blossoms are white. Bumblebees are attracted to its flowers.

Butterflies flit from flower to flower.

But when I spot a yellow blossom on the same vine as a white one, what does that mean?

Are they different colored flowers? Or are they simply more mature? A snapshot of anything frozen in time -- a person, a country, a language, a culture -- tells us very little. It is the historical context that helps to recognize transitions and interpret trends.

By all means, live in the moment. But no moment is isolated, and the real meaning of it all comes from the historical context. I have yet to understand the history of this  kitten. How did it come to be here? Where is the mother? Were there others in the litter? How old is it and how much does it need my help? When should I start letting go? I will keep piecing the facts together until I figure it out.


  1. Since you started feeding the kitten it will now expect food. The cat consumes so little food compared to the dogs you have, so in the scheme of things I do not think it will be an immense financial burden. Adult cats do catch mice, but once you start feeding them, they do become somewhat reliant on your for a food source. Perhaps finding it another home might be a solution if you do not like the idea of feeding a cat for the long term.

    1. My dogs eat dry food mixed with table scraps and leftover milk. Because the kitten at first did not like the milk, and I was afraid it would die, I gave it wet dog food from a can, which my dogs only get for a special treat every once in a while and not every day.

      Maybe if the dry dog food with milk was not good enough for the kitten, it does have some other source of food. It does not make sense for me to keep feeding it better food than my dogs get. It's kind of like the way people we try to help turn up their noses on the kind of food we regularly have to eat, because we are not rich.

      But besides all that, I really do want to give this kitten a chance to be a hunter of mice. I just need to know how old it is and whether someone else is looking after it -- Its mother for instance.

      I gave it really good food for a temporary help up in case it was in trouble. It can't become permanent. It's really important to be able to transition from helping to not helping anymore.

      My father always used to say: You can do someone a favor every once in a while. But . a favor can't be permanent.

      I have not adopted the kitten. It is still free. I don't want to displace it, in case it has a mother and a viable way of life here.

  2. Based on this page, I'm guessing your kitten is 7-9 weeks old, Aya. I've never been in this situation, so I'm not a good one to give you advice on it. I only know that the kitten will not confine itself to hunt only on mice when it gets older. ;-)

    1. I know, Kathy I understand it will also kill birds and rabbits. But what I want it to do is to eat whatever it kills. The thing I find so wasteful about the killing that domesticated cats do is that they so seldom eat any of their kills. And I certainly don't want the kitten to bring me any "presents".

  3. This link has a lot of good pictures to help you age the kitten.

    1. Thanks, Kathy! I will give it a look.