‘Back to school’ weather – sharp, misty mornings and warm, sultry afternoons. There was always a dilemma whether to freeze in a blazer in the morning, banking on the fact it would warm up later, or bundle up in an horrid Gabardine and then have to lump the wretched thing home over the handlebars in the heat. I just loved school…
Anyway, not something I have to worry about any more - but September will always hold those memories. So, when I was pottering down the lane picking blackberries yesterday morning, musing on the passing of years, I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d heard a polite little miaow.
My last view of Pushkin had been about three weeks ago, a swift, ‘now you see me, now you don’t’, through the car windscreen. Apart from that, I hadn’t actually seen her since late April. My neighbour had reported several sightings across the summer months, but then she has an old and venerable dog, who walks calmly beside her. I walk with two dogs; a grumpy Lakeland terrorist and a loopy-do Collie who leaps and pronks and would deter any sane creature from making an appearance.
Later in the afternoon, as the dogs and I walked down the lane again, sure enough, there was a small, neat cat in the middle distance. She froze and I yelled at the dogs so that they wouldn’t give chase. As soon as they turned, Pushkin did her vanishing trick.
I walked down to where she had been, tied the dogs to a gate on the other side of the road and puss-pussed in the ditch. (That is not a terrible euphemism.) A genteel little miaow sounded, and then again, and again until suddenly I noticed our little star balancing on a through-stone half way up the wall. She is brilliantly camouflaged. It made me wonder how many times I’d been near and simply not seen her.
I held out my hand and to my amazement she did that squiggly, roly-poly business that cats do when they want a fuss. So, I stepped over the ditch and rubbed her head, which provoked loud purrs and much head butting. She seemed delighted to see me. So delighted and daft that she actually rolled off the back of the wall, only to reappear looking a bit embarrassed – ‘I really meant to do that, you know – of course I didn’t fall off, it was all part of the display.’
After a few minutes I thought I’d better finish my dog walk, so I continued down the lane. Pushkin followed at a distance, ready to disappear at any moment, but wanting to stick around. On the way back it was a bit like ‘What time is it, Mr Wolf?’ Each time I turned, she froze stock still, but she was definitely following. We lost her at the lane end and anyway, I had geese and ponies to see to, but later on I thought I’d just see if she was nearby and fancied some supper. It was quite amazing. I stood at the end of our track and called, ‘puss, puss, Pushkin!’ and she came running, straight up the lane, like we’d been doing this forever.
She trotted round to the barn, through the door and up onto her bench where her food bowls were. Ever the optimist, I had left water and munchies out for the whole of her absence, just in case, but I knew she hadn’t taken anything. Quickly, I dolloped some of Asda’s best fish-in-jelly, (which is the preferred snack of one, ‘Tinkerbell’, but that is a whole new story) and Pushkin tucked in with apparent relish. Fat Ginge, no longer fat after a warm summer brimming with baby rabbits, eats what he is given and so long as he can share my breath at regular intervals, he is quite happy.
So, it would seem our wanderer has returned. She looks terrific. Smooth coat, clear eyes and full of bounce and busy. I am absolutely delighted!