Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Earth Day Report

Yesterday, we got a call from Emily that their #1 cat, Charlie, was at the vet in ICU. A pack of dogs had taken him to use as a toy. Charlie showed up on the front porch with internal bleeding and the vet wasn't sure if he would make it through the night. Fortunately, he did, and Emily called this morning with a good report. But it did remind me what they named their #2 cat, EBK. That stands for Emergency Backup Kitty.

EBK's story is one of my favorites. Our oldest daughter has a petite white cat named Scratch. She's about as spoiled as a cat can get. Elizabeth was hesitant to put in a cat door because she didn't want to risk her running away. But Scratch was fascinated with the outdoors and the ability to come and go as she pleased without bothering Elizabeth was a big factor. So Scratch got her door.

One night Elizabeth heard a horrible screech in the kitchen. She ran to find Scratch cowering in the corner and a fluffy gray cat calmly eating out of Scratch's bowl. Elizabeth shooed the intruder away but the problem went on for over a month. Not only did the stray come and go as HE pleased but one time they got into a fight and Scratch lost big time. It was changing Scratch's personality. She lived in fear and spent most of her time watching the pet door, powerless to ward off the hungry bully.

Finally, Elizabeth called her sister one Saturday to come help. Emily arrived, feeling the power that Scratch lacked, ready to take over and do whatever it took to get rid of the stray. Our family has a friend who works at the city pound. We've long had the fall back solution to any animal problem: we could take them to Cookie at the pound and she would take care of the matter. Emily grabbed the stray and started out the door to take him to the pound. This was fairly easy because the cat had made himself at home there and didn't fight being picked up. By the time she got to the front door she turned to her sister, "Elizabeth! He's purring." She stopped and stroked his fur. "This is a great cat. I'll bet he'd clean up nice." Elizabeth could only respond in shock, "That cat beat up my cat!"

EBK went to live with Emily and is now a solid member in good standing in their household. He's gone through several real names but the one that's stuck with me is EBK. Elizabeth has never forgiven him and refuses to pet him. She can't understand how Emily could love him and Emily can't understand why her sister can't. He stands in the wings and waits. He's the Emergency Backup Kitty in case something happens to Charlie. Thank goodness Charlie is OK, though. I hate it when nature turns ugly.

Yesterday was Earth Day and everyone was supposed to enjoy the serenity of Mother Nature, the beauty of the fresh spring. I had planned to spend my day outside but didn't do a very good job of it. I mowed a bit. But most of my day was indoors.

However, I did managed to rescue a baby bird who doesn't appear to be a natural born flyer. We've had a barn swallow build a nest in the same spot for two or three years now. She puts it above the front porch overhang. It's protected from the rain and offers an easy escape. The problem is that's where our dogs spend a lot of their time. They sleep there at night sometimes and when it rains all three huddle up on the porch under the nest. Last year at this time I stood on the porch and noticed how big the babies had grown; they barely fit in the nest. I worried what our dogs would do if a bunch of birds spent time chirping, flapping their wings and hopping around on the ground learning to fly. Their future looked pretty bleak. Then, while I was watching, the whole nest full of birds took a couple of practice circles around the front porch then flew straight for the trees in the front yard. Those birds could fly! It was a beautiful thing to witness.

But not so yesterday's friend. I was pulling some weeds and came upon him sitting there in the grass looking very bewildered. I got the ladder and put him back into the empty nest. All of his siblings had already figured out the flying thing and left home. At the end of the day I went to check on my weak flyer and he was gone so maybe he figured it out. Or not. The cat was suspiciously late for breakfast this morning.

I guess the message of Earth Day 2008 is that it's not all fresh green grass. Sometimes it's the survival of the fittest and that even applies to cute baby birds.

May you travel in peace today.

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