We had a wonderful Christmas, and a busy and fun Christmas week, and there is still a great deal of activity and fun to be had in the coming week. I'll tell you about some of that at the end of the post. But all I can think about is Bête. Bête Noire is our cat. She can usually be found on the arm of the chair next to the fire, in Jane's bed, chattering and twitching on a windowsill from which there is a good birdwatching, or waiting greedily beside a mole hill for someone to dismember. She was born an inner city cat and found her inner lion when we moved to this house. She can often be found surveying her territory from her rock.
Nor could she be found this morning. She has not been seen since Christmas morning, when we let her out at about 5 am. She never came in for breakfast, or after. It's just possible that she is hiding in a stump somewhere. Or up a tree. Or under someone's porch. With a wound, or a sudden illness. It's possible her fraying collar fell off and someone has taken her in or taken her to the shelter. It's possible.
There are other possibilities, of course. If you're a frequent visitor you know about the coyotes in these parts. When we saw them frequently, we kept Bête inside. Then we saw them less, and remembered how impracticable it is to keep a wild animal contained in your home. It made everyone miserable, especially her. Many times in her lifetime we've reached the conclusion that she'd rather die outside than be forced to remain indoors. We knew the coyotes were a considerable risk, but we decided to let her outside again. She could be under someone's porch. She could also be gone.
As I've done once before when she vanished, I went looking for her. First Jane and I took a walk in the wind and rain together this morning. "Beeeeeeête!" I called. Jane followed, "Where ARE youuuuu?!" We looked around the yard, and along the road near our house. While Jane napped this afternoon, I went again. Just in case, I brought a towel and a plastic bag. I've done that before, too.
I searched the whole yard. In the bushes, under the deck, in the tall grass, in the brambles. At the barbed wire fence where the deer and coyote come and go, I found this print and this big clump of fur stuck to the barb of the middle wire.
It's a beautiful spot, a mysterious place. The moss and lichen keep even the deciduous trees green all year. The saturated grass still snapped under my feet. When we tromped through the grass and teasels here this summer, it was taller than my husband. The creek bank, steep and muddy, is beyond the first row of trees. There are bears, deer and coyotes there. The heron dips in and out through the maze of ash limbs by magic. Standing in the rain there, I knew I couldn't hope to find her, and turned back to the house.
The truth is, I've been snivelling into my sleeve all day over Bête. She's a cat, I know. I felt ashamed when I think of the several people I know holding it together in the face of shattering grief. In the end I allowed myself to cry for her, because love is love, and I am hormonal. And when you sing the nightly verse, "The Bête on the bus goes, 'meow meow meow,'" and your toddler stops nursing to ask suddenly, "Where's Bête?" it's a bit of a tear jerker. Whatever has happened or is happening to her, though, it isn't the first time she's flirted with danger, nor the first time we've thought she was gone. We're both afraid she might be, but you never know. In the meantime, we're keeping a candle lit for her.
We did have a very merry Christmas, and hope you did too. It was the first Christmas where Jane had some sort of grasp on what was happening. My parents spent Christmas Eve night with us, and we all opened presents together. I made my mother-in-law's waffles and reflected how unacceptably wide this country is (they are in Boston). We also had roast beast and Yorkshire pudding for Christmas Eve dinner. It was delicious. We set Jane's train set up around the tree after she went to bed. It was a big hit, along with the jumbo Richard Scarry book Matt got her. And pretty much everything else except the clothes I got her (bo-ring).
Just before Christmas I finished two commissioned dolls I had been working on for a while. One is the traditional, more two-dimensional shape, and one is a plumper jointed doll. The former is a gift for a newborn, so we decided to add a doll's doll that is safe and approachable for baby right away. It's made of cashmere and has some lovely local lavender inside. I'm really pleased with these dolls. I love this learning process. Each time I finish something, it's really the best thing I've ever made, and I have the constant pleasure of learning something new and honing my handwork skills. Still lots I'd like to work on.
There you have it, friends. There's still much more to talk about. I stuffed too much into this post, but that's what happens when you're bad about blogging regularly. An item for the New Year's resolution list, eh? Talk to you soon.