Yesterday since it was so unusually nice – bright sunlight, actually warm too (no biting, Arctic winds for once!) – instead of heading off to the cinema I decided to go for a long walk with the camera. Just a few minutes from my flat is an old train line which is now a cycle and walkway, which then connects to the Water of Leith. Once a busy river used heavily for industry it is now cleaned up, wildlife returned to it, very desirable homes along the banks and offering a lovely countryside walk right in the middle of the capital city, trees offering green-filtered shade, the sound of the water, singing of birds, squirrels playing around (sadly I didn’t see the heron who is usually around, was hoping to get a pic but denied). I was heading to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, but rather than go through the streets took this route – rather nicely as you walk along the leafy river there is a bridge over to a steep set of stairs cut into one side which take you right up from this pleasant walk and into the grounds of the gallery. Nice way to combine ‘country’ walk with visit to the gallery, all without leaving the city centre.
I came up the top of the high steps (yes, panting a little, I do a lot of walking but not as fit as I was in my cycling days, and these are very steep stairs up quite an incline) and out into the back of the gallery. Walked under some cherry blossom trees, finally after the unseasonably bad weather now groaning heavily with flowers and petals. And as I turn around the corner of the building to the front, walking past some of the open air sculptures, I see a very small, very young kitty walking over to sit in the shade right in front of the gallery by a Henry Moore sculpture. Not what I expected to see in the grounds of a major gallery in the city.
Then this rather gorgeous, beautifully tiger-striped little cat sees me and lets out a loud couple of mieows before running right over to me. As I kneel down she comes right up to me, head out for a scratch between the ears then tilts up so I can scratch her wee furry chin. Then obviously deciding I was suitably cat-trained she lies down, rolls over and assumes the ‘tickle my soft, furry tummy, you know you want to’ position that all clever cats (and dogs too for that matter) know to use to help train humans to do their bidding.
This was the first time in months that I stroked a kitty, and the first time I heard contented purrs as I tickled that tummy – even better, I could feel them, purrs vibrating right through my fingertips. I miss that so much without my own furry girls to give constant attention to, and I suddenly felt so much better about the world, for a few precious moments just lost in that simple happy feeling that comes from interacting with a trusting, friendly animal who wants to play with you and get attention and love. The simple things that can make us feel so much better…
She was a very young, small kitty, guessing no more than a couple of years old. I was slightly worried she might be lost, perhaps walked away from her garden and somehow got to the gallery but not sure how to get home. She did have a collar on so obviously part of a family (or I might have been so tempted to take her home with me to take care of!), but when I checked with gallery staff they said it was okay, she came around most days and was very friendly, often sitting with some of them for their lunch and going up to visitors with a loud mieow and happily getting attention from them, so I was relieved to know she obviously just comes from a nearby home to this spot on her rounds and wasn’t lost and looking for help.
While she was curled up she noticed the end of her own tail and promptly tried to grab it. Of course as she reached forward to grab it her back end moved and so did the tail so she couldn’t quite get it, but was having fun trying (reminded me of my darling Dizzy when she was very young, doing much the same when she saw her own tail and tried to grab it). Since my usual ball of wool cat toy (best fun for a cat, the old ball of wool) was at home I improvised, managed to pluck a very long blade of grass to use as a toy, dangling it over her head as she clearly wanted to play, and she went mad for it, up on hind legs reaching for it, trying to grab and bite at it and having fun. Eventually satisfied she went off for a prowl then eventually spotting some new visitors sitting down on a bench by the path she ran over to them, standing up on hind legs to reach their arms with her paws as if to say mieow, here I am, pay attention to me…
In the gallery I saw a modern exhibit and also some of the older works such as the gallery’s Picasso, Duchamp and Dali works, all very enjoyable, but nothing made me as happy as ten minutes stroking and playing with this friendly little cat and hearing her purr. I do miss having my furry girls badly, amazing how much they helped me cope with life and all its slings and arrows. I have been looking at a couple of the websites for animal rescue shelters near me, but they all want any potential owners to have a garden for the cats. Since I live three stories up in a Victorian tenement this is a problem – it wasn’t a problem with Cassie and Pandora though. When they were kittens we were renting my friend’s place while he worked down south, and it had a nice garden for them – but they wouldn’t go out into it. Once they had been neutered and had all their shots the vet said right, safe to start letting them out now. But they refused to go outside. They would watch me from the window out in the garden, but wouldn’t join me. I tried carrying them out one day, they ran around in little circles in panic, yeowling, then leapt onto me, digging claws in and holding on to me, shivering. Okay, you really don’t want to go out, I won’t make you. So when I bought a place a little after that I thought well I don’t have to restrict myself to a ground floor flat with garden for the cats… And this was fine for oh so many years as my furrykins enjoyed being queens of their own little indoor domain, quite content. But it may be a problem now when I finally get myself ready emotionally to go down to the shelter and talk to them about rehoming one or two of their kitties. Which is a shame as there are so many animals badly needing a new home and love and attention, and I really need some animals in my life again.