A Happy Ending To Summer's EndThursday, September 15, 2011
|Summer's End - 2005|
Yesterday, Wednesday caught me in the euphoria of being on the top of a bell curve. I had such a moment with my friend John Armstrong some ten or more years ago. We were navigating the Hemlock ramp north into the Granville Street Bridge at a considerable and most illegal speed in my Maserati Biturbo. I remember telling Armstrong, “When this car runs well there is nothing better!” I spoke much too soon as within hours the car developed a very loud transmission clunk. These clunks are tenacious, they never go away. They get worse.
I was telling myself yesterday (when I was up on that bell) that I had just received an important call that almost (not quite) means that I will be taking all the official portraits of soon to be anointed federal leader.
At age 69 that anyone would even consider calling me for such a job felt amazing as was the fact that I had not only taken the five pictures for today’s Fall Arts Preview in the Georgia Straight, but they had also called this arthritic invalid to take two other pictures, one of which was a fun (fun in the end, read on to find out) session in my living room studio with Vancouver Poet Laureate Brad Cran.
I had not seen my beautiful “snow leopard” female cat Plata since 11:30. By the time the sun began to go I had a gut feeling that she was never going to return. In spite of my melancholy I was thinking about the curious fact that cats can be kidnapped but never catnapped. I thought this was the case or perhaps it had been a marauding coyote from VanDusen. By last night Plata had not returned.
I (my wife is in Lillooet) have had this experience before. You go out to the back door and strike a cat food can with a spoon. You search in the bushes with a flashlight, expecting at any moment (as I did once) to find the cat eviscerated by a raccoon. I got into bed and thought of Plata and all her cute quirks and I was not even so angry anymore of her persistent attempts to keep possession of one of our better Indian rugs by peeing on it. I had finally found a way of preventing this.
Plata walks with me around the block, just like a dog. When I arrive in the Malibu she goes out to the street. I place my hand at waist level and she jumps to lick my hand. She likes to sleep on towels. Rosemary has one by her computer in her “oficina”. There is a towel on one of our bathroom sinks. She sleeps on that. And when we take tub baths Plata sits on the edge. At night she sleeps on my legs or behind my pillow. Luckily I am not allergic to cats.
|Plata on my breakfast tray on fridge|
When I watch films on TCM she likes to sit on my lap. She had a fondness (understandable) for John Wayne movies directed by John Ford.
|Plata in La Oficina|
But she was gone. Every hour I would get up and call her name at the front door and then the back door. I was coldly making up my mind that this time around I was not going to put posters on telephone posts or call all the pet hospitals and SPCA. If she was gone she was gone.
My melancholy was compounded by a family problem I will not elaborate here. The problem was big enough that my heart had split one side in the direction of Plata and the other on my disappointing relative.
I did not sleep a wink. Not quite. I had a dream - a very real dream. Plata appeared and told me,” I went away for a while because I wanted my own space. I needed that. But I am back now.” The dream was cheerful but I woke up and knew it was all a sham.
By the time Poet Laureate Brad Cran appeared in the morning for his portrait session I told him all my troubles and of my dark melancholia. I asked him if he could write a poem on demand. “Impossible,” he told me.” "I am one of those laboring poets. I take my time.”
After a successful session we sat in the living room where I persisted in telling him of my ills. He surprised me, “ I have just written your poem in my head. Where is your computer? I will write this on one condition. That is that you do not read it until I am gone. If it needs further work, don’t ask. It would take me a year.” He left. I read the poem and cried. If anything, after such a terrible evening/day this was at least a palpable and beautiful gesture that I will never forget.
A few hours later I heard a meow and opened Ale’s closet in her old room. Plata jumped out all hungry. Life is almost grand. Isn’t it?