Ah, hello and welcome back! How was your week? I have been extremely busy. You have no idea how hard it is to keep these ladies in line. All they do all day long is take care of dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits. What about me? I guard the place all night, make sure to keep it safe and secure. But during the day, oy vey! During the day it is all I can do to keep their attention on me. I bat my rattling feather ball around, make sure they know when my food bowl is empty, and I am super-helpful when it comes time for them to click away on that thing they call a keyboard. And let me tell you, that thing they call a mouse? It is not like any mouse I have ever seen. And tastes just awful. I finally decided to leave it alone for a while, save it for a day when my ladies seem to have forgotten I need regular attending to. Now, I was telling you about my great-great-great grandpaw Tomescu Plavenka, correct? And I believe he had just arrived in the port city of Felinovska. Ah, yes, it is coming back to me now.
He realized just how far he had come, and how little mice and spiders contribute to a balanced diet. Slowly, carefully, he inched his nose toward the outstretched hand. Without realizing it, his internal motor started. The soft voice
giggled quietly and spoke again. “Come on then, little one. Come inside where it’s warm. How about a nice warm bowl of fresh goat’s milk to go with that salmon?” With his stomach and his brain at war, Tomescu slowly inched toward the open door. As he moved closer he could feel the heat from the fire reaching out, beckoning him closer. The smell of the salmon roasting above the flame tickled his nose, and promise of warm, rich goat’s milk was too much for his stomach. He crouched low to the ground and, staying as close to the wall as possible, ran into the warm room. The owner of the soft voice continued speaking gently to him. Slowly she placed a small plate with a large piece of salmon on it in front of him. As he approached it, she slowly lowered a bowl of warm goat’s milk next to the plate. His hunger won out over caution and he devoured the salmon, then started in on the milk. Never had anything tasted so wonderful. As hunger gave way to satisfaction, he realized there was a new sensation. The wonderful girl who had given him the delicious food was slowly, gently petting his back and scratching his head. He pressed his head into her hand, and involuntarily he started purring and then began walking back and forth, around and between her ankles. She giggled again, softly, and said, “You are a nice kitty. So handsome! Would you like to sleep here by the fire tonight? Then we can figure out what to do with you tomorrow.” She padded a basket with a kitchen towel and patted it. Then she banked the fire, blew out the candles, and quietly walked from the room, leaving him with his thoughts.
Tomescu stayed with the kind innkeeper through the winter. He grew fat on salmon and mice, corn and peas, and goat’s milk. As spring approached, as well as the anniversary of his forced exile, his thoughts turned toward his original goal. One morning his benefactor told him she would be traveling to see her parents and would be gone for several days. She was boarding up the inn, but she would leave a space for him to enter and exit as he wished. Realizing that it was time to continue on his journey, he purred his loudest and rubbed his fiercest, trying to convey the love and appreciation he felt for her, and his sorrow at knowing he needed to follow his heart and travel on those floating mansions, which he had learned were called ships. He had learned so much in his time in Felinovska. He followed her out the door and partway down the road. She turned once, and he thought he saw water leaking from her eyes. Or maybe it was the sunlight reflecting. He couldn’t be sure. She waved and told him good-bye and she loved him. Tomescu howled back at her, putting all the thanks he could into his caterwauling. She smiled then, and turned away, heading down the road.
Tomescu watched for a moment longer, then turned himself around and headed toward the harbor. He was going to find a ship headed somewhere, where or how far away he had no idea. He sniffed and explored his way along the docks. Finally a new scent caught his attention. It was spicy, like the pine forests he had travelled through on his way to Felinovska. Yet it had a hint of something foreign, something…adventurous. He followed the scent up a wooden gangplank, and onto the busy deck of a very large ship. He hid behind a coil of rope and watched the men as they prepared the ship for sailing. Giant wooden boxes were loaded on board and lowered down below the deck. He shuddered as he thought of the smaller boxes that had carried his parents away. Suddenly overcome with curiosity, he searched for a way below decks, to see if he could figure out what was in these crates. He found a ladder that he could scrabble down, and soon found his eyes adjusting to the semi-dark of the hold. The scent that had led him on board this particular ship was sharp here. And seemed to be coming from the boxes and crates. He tentatively began nosing around the boxes and was startled by a voice from behind. “Hello, there Sir. Is there something in particular you are looking for?” Tomescu jumped and turned at the same time, coming to rest with all four paws ready to spring from danger at the slightest sign. As he brought his head up he came nose to nose with the most beautiful cat he had ever encountered. Her soft gray fur was highlighted with shades of charcoal. Charcoal tipped her ears and her dainty paws as well. She gazed at him with green eyes, slanted at the corners in an enticing manner. Tomescu lost all coherent thought and simply stared at her. “I said, ‘Hello.’ Or do you not speak PurrUssian?,” she said. Tomescu finally gathered his wits about him and stuttered a reply, “No, I mean, yes, I mean…” He paused for a moment. He took a deep breath and puffed out his chest, showing the finery of his brown, gray, and black stripes. He lowered his voice and began again. “Hello, madam. My name is Tomescu Plavenka. At your service.” He bowed low, showing off the grand tufts of fur surrounding his ears, as well as the rainbow of brown, black, and gray upon his back.
“How do you do, Mr Plavenka. I am called Alena Felivicz. I am the mistress of this sailing vessel. It is my responsibility to ensure that no mice, rats, or interlopers intrude upon the cargo and crew of the ship. You are on board the finest, cleanest ship in the Pacific. What is your intention?” Tomescu briefly related his story, of the kitnapping of his parents, his trek eastward to the coast, of finding the inn and kindly innkeeper and finally of saying goodbye and searching out a ship to take him on the next part of his journey, his quest to find a future. As his finished his narrative, Alena looked at him with sorrow in her eyes. “You have had a tough season. Fate has brought you here and fate will lead you to the next part of your journey. As I said, this is the finest and cleanest ship in the Pacific. It will carry you eastward to America, to a coast so rugged and beautiful, your heart will soar to the tops of the mountains, and down into the river valleys. If you are willing to work hard and keep the ship clean and vermin-free, you are welcome to accompany us.”
The rest, as they say, is history. The journey across the Pacific lasted four months. When they arrived on the western shore of America, Alena and Tomescu had a family of four gray, black, brown, and charcoal kittens. They
disembarked and headed into the forest. Their kittens grew and found mates of their own. My father is a direct descendant of Tomescu and Alena. He found my mother five years ago. I was born just a few miles from here and a few months later I was adopted by my first human. She ran a restaurant, and would give me plates of salmon and bowls of warm goat’s milk, just like Tomescu’s kind inkeeper did for him. When she was no longer able to care for me, the kind ladies here at Bear Creek took me in, and now I am able to share my life story and all the things I am learning with you. Come back next week and I will have another exciting story to tell you. And don’t forget, send any questions you might have for me to [email protected], and I will post the answer in a future installment of ‘Musings From and Office Cat’.