Pattacakes, the neighbour’s cat comes to visit now and then. She is a large tabby cat, the kind my grandfather always used to call Timothy, no matter whose cat it was.
Pattacakes is a friendly cat. She always pauses for a welcoming pat – hence her name? It’s hard to know. Her family, new to the neighbourhood, is not half so outgoing. She’s a curious cat, wants to know everything that’s going on. She stops to say hello, then meanders into the back garden, pausing along the way to greet an ornamental fairy, then looking back to see what caused the commotion when Claire jumped into the pool. Then she disappears into the undergrowth, perhaps taking a cool nap beneath one of the giant hostas or pursuing small rodents that don’t announce their presence to humans but which are never safe from the superior senses of a cat.
It’s cloudy, but breathlessly hot. Everything is very still. There may be a storm brewing at last. Pattacakes emerges from the garden, runs across the lawn and pauses by the garage door. Something lives there although we haven’t been able to find it. With a wave of her tail, she’s gone, perhaps summoned by a call our ears are too dim to detect. Claire has done 10 laps across the pool in 49 seconds, she says. How does she know? She counted the seconds while I counted the laps. Claire knows how to make time slow down.
Glenn has taken our old condemned pool heater to the Brady landfill. It was shut down by a bureaucrat because it was only eight feet from the nearest window instead of the required nine. I think we will never replace it now. To get nine feet into the garden requires some re-engineering to make its intrusion less painful. It’s a small pool and the cool water does us good. Claire doesn’t seem to mind.
Earlier our neighbour next to us, she of the happy household, dropped by to offer us eight birdhouses that she once used as part of her decorating business. They are perfect for wrens. She has two major dogs – no rooms for wrens.
Pattacakes is back for a hug. She’s the perfect cat, because we don’t have to have her in the house where allergens build up and make it impossible for Lori or Shauna to visit. Even I have trouble. I will have to wash my hands after our little love fest.
She scratches her cheeks on the edge of our patio chairs and Claire, now out of the water, obliges Pattacakes’ exposed tummy by giving it a good rub. What green eyes she has. Pattacakes, not Claire. Claire’s eyes are the bluest blue, fringed by thick, black eyelashes. Pattacakes has gone back to watching that corner in the garage again, her body laid our flat against the cool cement floor. Claire has gone to dress. I am alone in my garden with the bees and the birds and the flirting butterflies.