Today is winter solstice (or summer solstice if you're in the southern hemisphere.) We teeter on the cusp of the year. Longest night, or longest day, and the worst of the season still ahead of us. In one diresction is history, and in the other is possibility. So, since my brother sent me some old photos, I'm taking a stroll down memory lane.
Fourty years ago, in the spring of 1967, a family friend had his hounds out hunting bobcats, and killed a female that obviously was nursing. Knowing that my mom had always wanted to raise a wild cat, he tracked the female back to her den and found four kittens with their eyes still closed. Mom fed them with a doll bottle practically around the clock for three days untill dad could find someone with a barn cat who was nursing. The barn cat took the bobcat babies as her own and mothered them pretty well until they got bigger than her. Eventually, they would knock her over and hold her down to nurse. Poor, poor kitty! She was so relieved when we took those kittens away from her.
Mom kept the runt of the litter. He pretty much had the run of the house. We used to have an upright piano in the family room until the bobcat grew into his hormones and sprayed it. We took him to the vet to be neutered that very day, but the piano had to go. Peeeyew!
"Babe" liked to play with the dripping tap in the kitchen sink. And he loved perching on top of the refrigerator. One of Dad's business partners used to just walk in the back door and hollar, "Anyone home?" One day, he walked in, and the cat snatched the hat right off his head. After that, he would always knock and wait till someone would come and tell him that the cat was put away.
The folks got a vacation home and mom would shuttle Babe back and forth in her station wagon. She never put him in a cage, just let him roam around the car. One time she stopped at a truck stop for lunch, and left Babe in the car. As she was eating, she saw two young men pull up and start going through all the cars in the parking lot, grabbing what they could and moving on. Then one of them opened the door to her car, and Babe rose up from the back seat, yawning. The kid slammed the door shut and practically ran into the arms of the police who pulled up right then. The truckers all admired Babe and mom got a free meal.
Until he got old and cranky, babe was just a big pussycat and loved to have his fluffy spotted belly rubbed.
Every time I came home from boarding school, I was Babe's devoted slave. I've gotten more damage from kittens than I ever got from him. He lived about twenty years, till his liver failed and he just got too sick. He had a cat run outside, and in the winter, Dad would put down straw in the run to cushion the cold wet ground. Quail used to wander through the meshes of the cat run, and Babe would crouch quietly in the back of his doghouse until a whole covey was scratching and pecking through the hay. Then he would spring out and have fresh quail for lunch. One spring, a gopher came up inside the run. Babe was sitting and watching the ground for over and hours, then suddenly, SWIPE, the gopher never knew what hit it!
One of the photographers on the cruise specializes in black and white photos. Don't we look like 1930's movie stars? "Just kiss me, you little fool!"