Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Frozen Air Vapor

Life in Kickapoo Center at the Turn of the Century

Il neige, I say looking out the kitchen window. "What?" my wife responds. It snows," I repeat in English.Lately, instead of background music from the 1980's rolling around in my brain, French phrases pop up. It's a fantasy about returning to Paris.

Tiny snow crystals are blown at an oblique angle because of a gusty north wind. Clouds of snow roll down the roof when bursts of wind disturb the blanket of white on the entrance way. Cars stir up swirls of snow on the highway as they pass by. In the distance, the hills are obscured. The falling cover of white appears as fog. Trees look like statues. I personify them by imagining them as stalwart beings. The Pooch goes outside at 7 am. Forty five minutes later I open the deck door. "You out there?" I ask. In less than five seconds, he jumps up on the deck from his post under the steps. Once inside, the routine is the same. Stretch. Put a paw on the foot of the nearest person. Grunt and meow. I look in the cabinet for fresh cat food. Hearing me open a cabinet door, especially the one with treats behind it, he perks his ears. He's learned a new trick.

At the right end of the kitchen counter is a lazy Susan. In the open position, it acts as a step to the counter. The Pooch climbs to the counter and munches on the dried venison that sat overnight in his feeding area. I placed it on the counter while I toss the last of a can of leftover dried, beef-flavor cat food. The venison is more attractive now in the form of jerky. I open a foil package of cat food-"chicken ecstasy" which he ignores in favor of the deep maroon deer meat.

When my wife returns home after work there's always a story about Pucci's new exploits. Yesterday I missed a photo opportunity when the Pooch climbed on the seat of Ron's tractor. The way he was perched made him look like he was cranking the Massey up in preparation for a ride in the field. Ron and I laughed at the sight. The Pooch has a bag full of tricks. Another new entry is the leap. There's a hedge lining the sidewalk around the house. Normally he'll walk to an opening. Now, showing off, he makes a high leap over the hedge. This is a companion to the tree climbing behavior on our afternoon walk. Run like hell at a tree, climb half way up the trunk and hold fast. When I catch up with him he drops to the ground.

Walking through high grass is perfect for stalking. Slunk down, he wiggles his body. If I watch him, he pretends to ignore me. If I'm not watching-a strike. As he runs away laughing, I mutter,"You little shit." It doesn't matter that I know he's out there in the high grass, I still jump.

Before you get terminally bored with Aw ain't he cute ? I'll end this segment with an Oh wow story.

When I was the Mayor of Newhall street, one of my neighbors was a former policeman and now, attorney. I'll leave out his name because he keeps popping up in my life. Late in the evening under the influence, Oh wow, the storyteller would surface. Some of his stories were chilling tales of corruption in the police department.

Oh wow: I look down at Pucci's food dish." You always leave one piece behind." I mention to him. The Pooch curls a paw and reaches for the last piece of raw pork, snagging it before swallowing the pork. Oh wow. My wife and I are sitting at the kitchen table. The Pooch is lying next to me on the table. "Watch this," I tell her. "Pucci, put your paw on my hand." The Pooch hears his name, looks up at me and puts his paw on my right hand. Oh wow.

I've been splitting wood. Next to the back door is an old wooden bench I bought in Arizona. I'm enjoying a quiet moment with the cat on my lap. Life is good.After an unmeasured amount of time, I look down at the Pooch. I pay attention to body signals. This is a test. Without a stir or any movement on my part, I say to him. "You have to get down. I have to go back to work." I do not move my arms or make an attempt to get up. Dead still. I want to see what he'll do now. No more than ten seconds elapse before he jumps down. Co-incidence? Perhaps. My wife and I now spell words in front of him. Talking of Christmas, I spell T-O-Y. She replies T-R-E-A-T. The experiment will continue. I will report back.

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