These are the warm days, the warm side the hot side of the year. We have gone from keeping track of wooly cowls and warm shawls to searching out the gauzy, light fabrics. Crinkle cottons, wide-brimmed straw hats. We’re putting up the shade-sails, unfurling the umbrellas against the blast of the bold sun, rising higher and higher in the sky.
The mockingbird pair bounce along the top of the fence, jabbering at the indolent, rotund tabby cat, who might have once in his younger years been a threat, but now is more intent on loafing his days away in sun or shade. He’s a real garden cat, lolling about under the stunted artichokes, sunning himself on the hot rocks. He watches a caterpillar inching down the slender trunk of the new pomegranate tree. Meanwhile, the mockingbirds, feeling he is too close to their nest in the wildly blooming pyracantha bush on the other side of the fence, take turns to dive at him, skimming his fur and causing no end of consternation from us witnesses. Nevertheless, Oscar, that thick-headed tabby cat, continues to loll and flaunt his considerable flanks, the lines and sworls of his sides like a map of a forgotten island in an atlas of abandoned lands. Where we all seem to be residing this spring.
This is not a crowd of mockingbirds; nor are they repugnant, evil little dive-bombers. They simply refuse to believe in the serendipity of a fat cat in the garden enjoying the sun before it becomes intolerable even to this inveterate heat-seeker. They understand only that the shape of a predator is far too near their babies and they are determined in their strut and bluster and buzz-drills to drive him away.
But you know, Oscar acts like he had once been in a prison in Dubai. Nothing excites him, nothing annoys him. He is on the bulky side now, as if making up for those lost meals from prison, which adds to his look of imperturbability, but there comes that moment when one of the mockingbird scores a more direct hit, grabs a twist of fur, yanks. Oscar snarls and hisses, then curls up to sitting, gives himself a lick, and waddles off, as if he intended all along at precisely 10:13 a.m to move around to the other side of the house. And so he does, tail tall and stately, like a flag of state. Not giving up exactly, but not sticking around, either.
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I found this post anguishing in my stack and thought I would publish it, seeing that it's from that other side of the summer, before the heat drove us half-mad and the drought drove us the rest of the way. ~ lk