The other night I was watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. Yes, I am a nerd, okay?? The episode was “Schisms,” Star Date 46154.2. It’s the one where Mr. Data (the android, for those non-nerds out there) was giving a reading of his original poetry. One of the poems he prefaces with the explanation that throughout the ages, poets have written poems to those who have had a profound effect upon their lives and the poem he is about to recite is an ode in honor of one who has had a profound effect upon his life…his cat Spot.
Watching this sent me time traveling, remembering my cats. I’ve had five cats in my adult life and, without exception, they have all had profound effects on me. But I’m not a poet so I won’t be reciting any odes here.
The cats I miss the most at this point were the last two to leave us. They were littermates that we got from a friend of ours who taught at the local elementary school. Therefore, we named the male Burgess Elementary School Hale. Burgess was a cat who had a personality as large and important as his name. He was a handsome, Maine Coon(ish) cat with big paws that almost covered the palms of my hands.
But in spite of his size, he was very quiet when he wanted to be and quite graceful. He was an agile and efficient mouser and the very best lap warmer in the wintertime. I rarely sat at my computer without him sitting here on me, so every email I sent had a Burgess hair in it.
|Burgess shows off the Lion Cut that he got every summer.|
He was doglike in being a shameless beggar for food and had a real lazy streak in him. He didn’t mind us laughing at him as some cats do. He was gregarious and comical.
|He rolled out of bed, but didn't bother to go back and waited patiently while I took his picture. Silly guy!|
His sister was Asta Charles Hale, named for the dog in The Thin Man series by Dashiell Hammett. She was the rare cat who loved water and was a sink-sitter.
The last few years of her life, she took a shower every morning with my son Evan when he was home. She would come out wet and with spiked hair, but looking very self-satisfied.
She liked to tag team with Burgess on mouse patrol and was also responsible for helping me trap two snakes that got into our house so that I could set them free. Burgess would have killed them. Asta was a Buddhist in practice and by nature.
She was our greyhound Tigger’s best friend.
Asta outlived both Burgess and Tigger and once Burgess left us, she took up residence on my lap. She learned to accept Olive, the pug, as part of her family. She was an adaptable, affectionate little soul.
I miss them both so much and consider them to be my true and valued friends.
Ode to Spot by Data
Felis catus is your taxonomic nomenclature,
An endothermic quadruped, carnivorous by nature;
Your visual, olfactory, and auditory senses
Contribute to your hunting skills and natural defenses.
I find myself intrigued by your sub-vocal oscillations,
A singular development of cat communications
That obviates your basic hedonistic predilection
For a rhythmic stroking of your fur to demonstrate affection.
A tail is quite essential for your acrobatic talents;
You would not be so agile if you lacked its counterbalance.
And when not being utilized to aid in locomotion,
It often serves to illustrate the state of your emotion.
O Spot, the complex levels of behavior you display
Connote a fairly well-developed cognitive array.
And though you are not sentient and do not comprehend,
I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend.
I probably won't post again until after Christmas day but I hope I have time to visit your blogs.
In any case, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays all around!