“Growing up with animals is enriching, but also habit forming: later on in life, if you aren’t with them, you miss them.

…Now with a house and a workshop I can have pets – this time, cats.  Two black ones.  Kirri is old and wise and aloof; Raya is young, stupid and friendly.  She lies on my workbench with one eye closed and refuses to move.  I can be working, cutting joints, bang, bang, an inch from her wet little nose, and she won’t budge.  Sometimes she sits on my shoulder, or if I’m leaning over she will drape herself like a boa and purr contentedly.  She doesn’t want to get off: I have to lean way over and slide her onto the bench, where she moves near the warm lamplight and lies down again.  For a while.

Twice I have saved a bird and, together with Raya, seen it find the window that I have thrown open, and disappear.  I’d apologize to Raya and she’d sniff about on the floor and maybe there would be a few feathers still left and she would mutter her frustrations, but Raya is Raya and she soon forgets.  And then she jumps up on the bench and sits there blinking at me.  She likes to have me bend over a little bit and then she will nudge my beard with her muzzle, rub me, and then start to purr.  And if I stroke her she will flop over on the bench with a beautiful twisting motion, just like an otter playful in the water, and she will purr again and want me to scratch her tummy, which of course I do.  Another time she will just sit on the floor and look at me, and strange thoughts come.  You realize how vulnerable a little animal is.  How totally dependent upon goodness and patience and a bit of fun together.  It’s a little bit frightening and at the same time very gratifying.

By pure chance she is living her happy life with us and did not, when she was a kitten, go to someone else.  That, too, can start a chain of thoughts and I will look at her and she will look at me for a while and then she will just walk off and go upstairs and find the most comfortable chair in the living room and there I’ll find her a bit later, curled up in a little black ball.”

-James Krenov,  A Cabinetmaker’s Notebook


About Randy J. Arnold

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