This month's photo journal is dedicated to summer. Ready or not, here it comes. The dandelions are thriving in my yard while domesticated flora withers from temps already in the 90s and no rain in sight. After many years of wishing to do so, I planted sunflower seeds. The squirrels dug up most of them but several survived to seedling stage. Will they fulfill my vision of tall, yellow and black flowers against my back fence? Stay posted.
Wild honeysuckle is also blooming. Last weekend, we spotted a hummingbird dipping its beak in a flower. Then we passed a snake that had crawled onto the edge of the road. It was early morning. The sunlight hadn't pierced the treeline. The snake seemed content there as if it was enjoying the warmth of the pavement.
But summer isn't always kind. The next day on our walk, we passed the snake in the same spot, now a vehicular victim. And back home, our morning plans shifted when we found a tiny, calico kitten in our back yard. It wasn't old enough to be weaned and was terrified of humans. We'd recently seen a stray black female and thought it might be hers. We figured the best place for the kitten was our local emergency vet who takes in strays and injured wildlife.
About midday, we heard the mama cat yowling from a den in the yard behind us. An hour later, my husband was talking to the daughter of the home's owner. Her mother had passed away just days before. She and my husband searched the yard behind us and found four kittens in a new spot near a mulch pile. The mama scurried out of reach and hovered. Besides her mother, the woman had also lost a cat and dog in the past year. She planned to contact her neighbor, an active cat rescuer to help with the wild felines and she seemed happy to have a new cat family to tend to.
As the sun set, my husband and I discussed the orphaned kitten. Should we leave it at the vet where it would receive expert care? The vet techs said it was a four-week-old female. In a couple weeks, she would be old enough to be placed in a loving home. So, we left her. We sat down to dinner, then a movie (appropriately, I Bought A Zoo). Fifteen minutes into the movie, my eyes traveled from the TV to the view through our back door. A black cat straddled our fence, scanning the yard for her kitten. Then, despite the threat of our dogs bursting out the door, she dropped to the ground and searched.
"What are you doing?" My husband asked.
"She's a good mama . . . the cat. She's looking for her baby," I said. "I bet she was moving her kittens earlier from one yard to the next. She must have been carrying that kitten over our fence. Something spooked her and she dropped it."
My husband took one look at my face and sighed. "Lets go get the kitten."
We picked up the orphan who seemed utterly bewildered by a world far greater than she ever imagined. We drove to the house. My husband found the kittens in the dark. He set their sister down and waited nearby until mama and orphan reunited. I pray for them now, especially the tiny calico. I wonder how their story will end and if at least one of them will journey on with the woman who lost her mother.
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist. And creatures, always creatures. I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti of Dunham Lit.
Baggott, Asher & Bode
Rear in Gear
Kate DiCamillo on Writing