Baby Tortie

Baby Tortie

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Inter Mothering

 Among the feral cats who take shelter on our hillside are Mama Tortie and her two surviving daughters--Baby Tortie and Dilute.  Miss Jane Hathaway disappeared never to be seen again, although this morning I dreamt I saw her out on the front porch when I went to feed the cats.  Sadly, she was not there in reality.
 Mama Tortie had two babies about a month ago, but only one survived, a little gray dilute, although paler and more gray than her older sister Dilute.  Mama took up housing in the kitty basket.  One day when I went out to feed and water, Mama and Baby Tortie were in the basket together.  I said, "Well, what are you two both doing in there?"  Out they both walked, and there in the little nest were 3 more new kitties.  I noticed that Mama would nurse Baby's babies while Baby was out eating or taking care of kitty business.  I went to get another kitty basket, and moved Baby Tortie and her kittens into it, right next to Mama.  Baby looked at the kittens in the new basket, looked in her old basket with the older gray kitten, and promptly set about moving her kittens back into co-rooming with Mama and first kitty.  I learned then--don't mess with the cats.  They will work it out.
 Meanwhile, Dilute had her kittens--three little grays (that is Cousin Tortie in the back, Baby Tortie's kitty.  Yes, I know, getting a little complicated here.)  Mama and Baby helped Dilute clean up her kittens and herself.  Apparently, it is not uncommon for mother and daughter cats who have kittens at the same time to co-reside and co-mother.  It is particularly more common in feral cats, where the mother leaves the kittens alone to hunt for food.  Now while these cats are not truly feral, as in I feed them, and obviously give them shelter, they are in essence wild cats in that they are not house pets or especially loving sit-in-my-lap cats. 
A couple of days ago, I checked in on Dilute's babies and there were only 2 grays in the basket.  I thought one might have died, but when I looked in the other basket, there were now 5 kittens, and one of them was Dilute's.  But, I did not know the back story, so I did not act.  Could Dilute have not been able to make enough milk for 3 since she was the tiniest cat?  Did Mama take a baby to replace the one she lost early on?  Who moved Dilute's kitty?  Dilute walked up, looked in her basket and then looked in the other basket.  Then she hopped into her basket with the two kitties.

I confess, I worried about it, but also did not worry--thinking they would sort it out just like they had the other system.  Then Thursday while I was sitting out on the porch, I heard mewing sounds of distress.  Cousin Tortie was in the basket with all the other cats, but crying, and seemed to be weak.  All the other kitties were nursing except for Cousin, who just kept crying and sort of pushing herself around aimlessly.  I put her in the basket with the gray cousins, and she settled in with them and stopped crying and went to sleep.  Later, Dilute was nursing all 3 of them, and there Cousin Tortie has been ever since.

I find myself dwelling on it, thinking I should not interfere.  The cats seem perfectly capable of sorting it out and dealing with it.  Did Dilute wonder why they took her other kitten?  Did she wonder how Cousin Tortie ended up in her basket?  Did Baby Tortie realize her baby Tortie was in Dilute's basket?  So many questions, and yet, it seems to have stabilized for the moment and that human interference has not traumatized anyone.  They all three come up to jump up on the arm of the chair when I am on the porch, and two of them like to be scratched behind the ears, although Dilute will not tolerate touch.  I guess I will just see how it works itself out from this point, but one thing is clear--that one basket will not hold 2 adult cats and 4 kittens much longer.  Cousin Gray is already moving around enough that he was out of the basket yesterday, checking out the front porch.  The others will not be far behind.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A leap of faith

Last year, the mint growing in the pot to the right flourished beautifully, with lovely sprigs that turned into airy streamers, draping over the rail, sending shoots willy-nilly.  Somehow, one of them landed in the pot of Thai basil and was unnoticed as it took root.  It wintered undetected until the spring sunshine began to work its magic. 

I am easily intrigued with the symbolic in life.  Like this shoot of mint, it is fascinating how nature and the metaphysical realm can instruct us if we are observant.  Sometimes, the best ideas come to fruition long after the seed was planted, and then one day, there it was, bearing fruit.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

First blue bird of spring

I love it when I see the first blue bird back at the feeders.  These little guys only show up toward late spring.  I still recall the giddy moment I saw the first bluebird in my life after I moved to Mississippi.  Sometimes, a simple joy is such an uplifting moment in time.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Phases and Stages: Circles and Cycles

 Almost 13 years ago, I moved to fairly rural Mississippi.  It has been an education, and as Robert Khayat expressed it, the education of a lifetime.  Things happen and things change.  Sometimes we make them happen and sometimes they just happen to us, but it all results in change.  Of course, since the world is a system of many systems, that also means it often happens in phases and stages and circles and cycles, which is how Willie Nelson puts it.
 I have been on the road more days and hours than not in the past several days.  One thing I do especially when I am traveling alone is use the time to sort out things.  Lately, I have been sorting out what is time to let go of and in which direction I need to be traveling.  I have important work to do, and it is easy to distract oneself from that work with things that begin to drain your energy, your focus, and definitely your time.  Let's face it: there are only 24 hours in a day, so all we can do is manage the use of the time we have.
 If we do not, then things tend to pile up, and the higher the pile, the more difficult it is to sort it out.  That is not earth shattering news to anyone, but it does not make it any less true.  If we want to sort out the pile, however, we need to at least have an idea where it is we want to be when done.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The view from the terrace

 My balcony terrace view overlooks the Gulf.  The breeze coming in off the water was perfect. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sunshine for a moment

 It has been pouring rain all week, with flooding in Mississippi and Louisiana.  This morning, we have a bit of a reprieve and the sun is peeking through for minutes at a time before the clouds obscure it again.
I donned my rubber wellies last night (not the cute kind the students wear, but ordinary black rubber work-in-the-barnyard kind) and ventured out long enough to pick up curry--the better to clear the sinus issues that the weather seems to have brought on.
 A little sun and a flash of red in the trees makes me feel better--even though my slippers are a damp mess after going out to feed the birds this morning.  I should have put those wellies back on!
Spring.  It's what's for breakfast this morning.