What can one say of San Francisco’s most successful effort at summer…except that it must be enjoyed? Which is what brings me to our greenhouse on a Sunday afternoon. The greenhouse effect is most pleasant. Warmer, a bit. Sheltered from the breeze, yes. Quiet. While Jane takes a nap and gets a break from intense Sunday extroversion, well, here I am. And all alone.
For less than a minute, actually. One of our two cats leaps upon me and it asserts its right. This is probably a litmus test of human personality. The entitlement of cats is legendary. Am I astonished? Offended? Honored? There are so many possibilities. In my current mood, I decide to cherish the moment. How many shall we have, the cat and I? Nutmeg, now pushing 17 years old, cannot keep pushing all that much longer. So, what the hell? I stroke her, maneuver the Sunday New York Times out of the way. And generally let her predominate.
I’m not sure that cats have an elaborately developed worldview. But who can say? Nutmeg may in her own way be conscious of mortality. Cats are known to slink away to die on their own. If so, what does one do? Let them? After all, the cat may have no need to say goodbye. And the need to hide at the bottom of our garden and expire…if this is a need, well, what can one do but respect it? Problem is, we do not have an exact and nuanced communication, Nutmeg and I. Cats are creatures of wildness and mystery. That is their attraction. So what is one to do but attempt to perceive their feline experience? Then decide just how far one wants to go down their mortal path.
Meanwhile, Nutmeg is instructing me on how to pet her. Her communication is remarkably clear. A series of aggressive head motions outline what is to be done with her ears. My fingers are to go just in front, slightly below. And then rub. More or less the same around the eyes. This cat is not concerned with mortality, grief counseling or any aspect of life’s big picture. We are talking comfort. Creature comforts, and no pun intended. Which is the endless lesson of life. That it’s now. This Sunday. This moment. Which turns into this other moment. Which turns into thoughts of the greenhouse itself. Like the fact that the basil is currently keeling over, the victim of perennial dehydration…owing to inexpert potting. It needs water. It needs me. And so for the next 90 seconds, I have found my life purpose. Stay tuned for the rest.