Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Dancer and the Music

February 1, 2015

Dear Friends, 

Annie has learned all over again that behaving logically does not insure that others around you will necessarily behave logically, particularly if, as in her situation, the environment includes humans. 

On this particular evening, Annie followed her logical routine.  She finished her dinner, then carefully cleaned her paws and whiskers. When she had completed these grooming tasks, she walked by my chair, scratched the base of the chair to alert me that she required my services, and then proceeded to the front door. She sat down, her tail curled elegantly around her, and waited for me to come open the door.

You understand, of course, that Annie had not yet actually decided if Her Duchess Self would go outside—the open door was necessary so that she could first sample the air, determine the temperature, and carefully evaluate all her options. 
Annie knows that an impulsive cat rarely lives long enough to become a Duchess (actually, this was a famous saying of her Greatgrandmother who lived a long time and served as Distinguished Supervisor of Rodent Control for the Queen.) Annie's particular decision this evening  required especially cautious thought because of the timing of the affair.

It was late enough in the day that the Black Cat might already have started his nightly patrol, and Annie had learned that it was advisable to avoid all contact and communication with him.

While a long walk to check out the birdhouse by the lake had great appeal to Annie, such a venture had high risk at this time of day.  Annie, however, had another option. As Duchess, she could sit on the porch and supervise the side yard while the neighborhood yard lights went on.

This option was safe enough provided that The Human could be persuaded to keep the door open. Obviously it was essential that Annie be able at any time to re-enter the house immediately if the Black Cat appeared by the back fence. There were a number of pros and cons to each option. Annie would need time to think carefully about her choices.

Having been summoned by the Duchess, I arrived and opened the door. Annie sat down at once on the threshold to think further about her options—I could see at once that it was not yet clear to the Duchess whether she should go or stay, and her decision-making would require more time.

Annie’s Human does not possess sufficient patience for such elaborate problem solving. After a reasonable time (human point of view) I set the latch so that the door would stay open for Annie’s convenience, and left her to figure out her options while I played solitaire and finished my coffee.

My game-playing was not a successful venture. I lost two games in a row. This, of course, required serious concentrated attention to the third game which, fortunately, I won.  

On this note of triumph, I left my computer and went to check on the Duchess, but she was nowhere to be found—not on the porch; not in front of the garage; not on the back porch; not under the neighbor’s bench. 

“Annie,” I called, “Come home. Annie, come home this minute.  Annie??—Annie, it’s too late for you to be out.”  No Annie.

“Annie,” I continued.  “I will wait for you for five more minutes then I am going in.  Annie, you need to come home. Annie—Come on. Hurry up.”   No Annie.

Then, as I leaned on the porch rail waiting for the Duchess, the infamous Black Cat came sauntering along the back fence with the clear intent of cutting across Annie’s side yard.  I, of course, took immediate action.  I yelled.  I banged my cane on the drain pipe several times. I suppose the resulting racket must have sounded to Black Cat as if an entire army of Cane-Carrying Seniors was out to attack all felines, so, sensibly, Black Cat took immediate refuge under the hedge and, safely out of my sight, disappeared.

I waited a few minutes longer to be sure that Black Cat had left for safer territory, then called Annie again.

No Annie.

“Annie,” I said, exasperated, “Annie, I am going in. I’ll come back in a half hour or so to check on you, but in the meantime you are on your own. You know it’s too late to be out, so you’re responsible for yourself.”

Then as I turned to come inside and close the door, I saw Annie.  She was sitting by the treat table, having come obediently when I called. She had a distinctly puzzled look. I’m sure she was wondering why, when she had come as called, I had gone out on the porch, made ridiculous sounds and banged with ear-injuring racket on the drain-pipe.  Why didn’t I recognize her obedience with a well-earned treat, and return sensibly to my coffee? What was the matter with her Human?

I tried to explain.  “Well, there you are Annie, and you have earned your treat. You did come when I called. The problem was that I was looking in the wrong place—I thought you were outside.”  

Annie took her treat with polite appreciation, then crawled up into my office chair. She continued to watch me curiously. In her mind the whole affair had produced utterly senseless behavior on my part. 

I could imagine Annie telling the little Calico Cat (whom she likes) about the adventure and explaining, “Well, it’s hard to get good Human help these days. The Human said that it didn’t occur to her to look for me inside. Can you believe that? Where else would I be?  Any cat could have smelled that Black Cat long before he came into our yard. These Humans are so limited. I suppose you just have to be patient with them.” 

I am wishing today that I knew an artist who could write those old elegant calligraphy letters. I want a poster for my office that reads:

“He who hears not the music thinks the dancer mad.”

Annie will like that poster too.

See you next week.



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