THE LOVE OF SILVER, written January 27, 2010. Posted Nov. 11, 2011
In September, 2001 I was in Wright City, Missouri a dusty residential small town lying southwest and above Highway 70 waiting for Maddie, a knotted up little lady, who makes reupholstering look simple. Maddie was to bring cotton fabric samples to refresh my old wood kitchen chair cushions.
I'm sun adverse. Leaving the house without thinking that morning, I threw on my floppy big brimmed tightly woven straw garden hat, a poor choice for the humid hot Missouri day, a day I like to call 'mugly'. I'm also an impatient person. I was tired of waiting and my short examination of the small town country fair left me feeling out of sorts seeing nothing but a dusty tiresome enterprise without decent drinks and edible food. Insult to injury folks, Added to impatient and sun adverse, I'm a vegetarian. Though Wright city was soon to grow more cosmopolitan, that hadn't happened yet. So, I wandered. The fair was small enough Maddy could easily find me. She knew my hat.
Wandering, I was attracted to the scent of animal life- not cooked. I saw that a local chapter of 4H Club was holding a small exposition of domestic and exotic medium to small animals. I love the company of animals over humans, and here a tent covered livestock and visitors against the heat. Envious of the shade and curious about the animals I forgot Maddy, pushed my way through sweaty Four H kids, their parents and guests. They were standing politely listening to a guy talking about raising sheep. I was headed straight for the caged livestock.
Dodging a light aluminum and plastic stroller holding a sleeping boy, I bumped into a roughly cut three foot high plywood wall without a 4H plaque naming its occupants. There was no owner names mounted, nor loud noises betraying occupant identity. My eye was already glued to a large wire cage full of gleaming iridescent Chinese chickens strutting their stuff so much like dear Mary Strauss 's gorgeously fluffy flaunting black roosters painted in ink on paper. Painted poultry was on my mind.
A child's sharp scream startled me. I jumped thinking I'd kicked the sleeping boys' stroller, I looked back and down at him, and again I heard the child's scream, louder than the first time. Huh? that kid was sleeping. Who screamed? A gentle firm pat on my right arm directed my mind into the plywood enclosure. The rickety pen made of several loosely nailed plywood sheets held piles of kittens. They laid on several knotted up cotton towels and blankets, a tipped beaten up plastic bowl, likely for water, was empty.
Kittens, many kittens of so many colors and fluffinesses were awaiting a home. Some were sleeping as a cuddled mass, others were peacefully alone. There were pairs, and a bunch near my wall asleep atop each other. At the base of my plywood wall I saw a mass of fur containing active splotches, writhing stripes, soft quiet pastels and a small black shape making each kitty difficult to define from the lively quilted mound punctuate by triangles, their perky little ears .
But, the screams? Ready to move on to pretty chickens, another firm pat to my arm revealed a tiny silver and pewter kitten snagging its sharp clawed round paws from the rough plywood edge near my right arm. This little thing again gave the child's shrill cry I'd heard, then disappeared. The mound of kittens had shifted knocking Silver from his perch. Again a silver pewter ear poked from the mass of cuddled kitties, again a single living fur ball in the corner of my wall. Silver leapt onto the kitten pile and regained a hold on the plywood wall. It patted my arm, continuing to hold my attention. Amazing kitten, each time the pile of fur shifted Silver was dumped, each time he dug himself out or was dumped far, he climbed the furry mound and grabbed the plywood edge.
Silver was truly the tiniest kitten, the slimmest, the sleakest and certainly the most assertive of this caged kitten crew. His pewter gray body and legs were marked in light gray nearly silver stripes, much of his tummy was cream edged with silver merging from his sides, all dotted in light gray spots. Over wide bony cheekbones his bright chartreuse green eyes shone a demand, "Look, I'm ready to leave". If I moved closer to him he patted me with his right paw. Right pawed patter.
I wasn't ready for another cat no matter how interesting and pretty. I had adopted Sophia Adria, a twice abandoned fluffy black kitty, last month. Sophia was beautiful, shy, and needed time to adapt. I did not need another child. I had just moved out of a difficult life from a large home, sold a needed to be gone business and moved into a lovely but cramped apartment with my best furniture and business records. Relative ease beckoned without excess.
I moved on to the show chickens, they fascinate me. I'd love to be finely permanently dressed with low maintenance. I love beautiful clothes. I wouldn't and can't spend fortunes, but I fancy I could easily love couture in another life. Disliking errands, I can see myself attended by tailors at hoe, by petite mains for my gowns with my perfectly cobbled European size 39EE shoe, cobbled in leathers or silks to match the gowns. The chickens wore their gowns permanently.
I thought about the many kittens paws so cute and similar to each other. But no chicken feet changes of fur, feather, or sizes.
Abruptly I felt thirsty while remembering Maddy. I wanted out of the tent. As though my mind had been read, Silver let out another child like scream. I read somewhere that cat meows and wails were possibly emulations of child's cries developed over a period of domestication to attract empathic humans' attention. Strangely, I was the only human attracted by the huge wail projected from the tiny sharp edged mouth. Silver's cream lined pewter ears were much lower now, way below his round petal like paws clamped against the edge of plywood. I could no longer see his wide fanned white whiskers framing his cream mustache and beard. He was getting tired. His head dropped, he held on and he wailed louder.
A five dollar contribution bailed the little guy out. He fit into my left hand as I carried him to the car, worrying he would hide somewhere in my oversized Town and Country minivan loaded with kitchen goods for the Innsbrook house. Many hiding places on top of my tiredness, I realized I felt annoyed with my impulsive response to a little cat.
Not really. This was the most beautiful little thing, all elegance in its sweep from nose to tails' end, his silky hair hid no trace of kitten chubbiness, only a silken silver coat. I drove my Chrysler mini van home without worry. Silver, was now Clark Kent in recognition of his flights to the top of the kitten mound and the edge of the plywood wall repeatedly holding on with determination, even while fatigued. Surely he was a Super Kitty. I drove home peacefully, he didn't hide, he slept contentedly in my lap without wailing.
Maddy called me the next day apologizing for not coming to the Wright City Fair. She would come over the next weekend. Her dog, Bagle, a cute Beagle mutt, had gone missing and she spent yesterday looking for him. He was fine. Clarke Kent and I went that afternoon to Dr. Feldman for his vetting. Doctor found her healthy other than fleas and mites in her ears. He agreed she was lovely as she quietly sat for her shots. First she leapt from exam table to the highest point in the examining room, not in fear. Because she could. Then Drs.' assistant was going to hold the little one for shots and I said, "no, I'm her mom, she will be OK." She sat quietly. Yes, she is a female, I added an 'e' to Clarke Kent.