We have made too many people cry this week, and now She is looking through photos on the computer. It seems that there was once a crooked man, who walked a crooked mile and found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile. He bought a crooked cat, who caught a crooked mouse and they all lived together in a little crooked house. And She is doing a book of nursery rhymes. And Kiffer was the perfect crooked cat. If anyone could catch a crooked mouse he could.
Early morning sunshine paints the sycamore seeds a glowing red. Bird song raises the sun. Wind plays with the leaves and grass and flowers through which butterflies dance a chaotic canter. The honeysuckle tree is rich with a thousand flowers, almost open. The ash tree is heavy with a weight of leaves. Foxgloves line the stone walls, made centuries ago by working hands while cats looked on, dreaming of the plump and succulent mice that would make their homes in a labyrinth of tunnels that weave through them now.
It is peaceful quite in the rose swaying, breeze blowing, summer sunshine land of garden.
Now is the dusk time cooling of the day and in the garden daisies have closed their eyes against the fading light. Moths are flitting through narrow pathways between leaves and flowers where in the daytime the butterflies moved. Overhead aerymice sing high songs across the sky where earlier the swallows flew. We watch and wait for the fading of the moon and the coming of the stars. Tonight they will be brilliant, a diamond canopy of light thrown up into the velvet dark. No moon. Soon the stars will be falling again. The air is thick with the scent of honeysuckle and roses and the fading song of birds.
We cats would all like to say the biggest thank you for all warm wishes sent from round the world to us, to Her, on the sad day. Now we are five again. We are sure to find Kiffer on times in the night when the moon is full and we gather at the well to sing songs to the moon.
We thought it best to let people know how we all are fairing.
Martha is old. 15 this year and skinny But good, for now.
I, Pixie, still have the sneezes, something like a poor imune system. We shall see.
Maurice seems well, though short of breath at times and She forgets to give him his tablets. He was chief carer for Her yesterday and odd times would jump into Her arms and put paws round Her neck to comfort.
Elmo is mischief and balance and fun and run and chase up a tree and bounce.
Max is quiet dark dignity lurking.
And Nadolig, the next door cat is now getting six dinners a day and looking good, if a bit ragged around the ears from fighting and dancing and living a high life of a wandering lothario.
We do not grieve for Kiffer because we know where he has gone, though his passing was too soon.
Oh, And She, well, She has a headache and feels sick but says it is only the menopaws and shruggs and scowls. Nothing to worry about.
And She wonders, how many cats have lived and died in this house, how many in this village? Mr Griffiths alone has had about 7. Here in Her lifetime are Comfrey and Arthur and Bird and Kiffer. How many mousers and fireside companions who curled round the necks of women and small children, who snoozed in warm sunshine and chased after rats, how many have lived here. She wonders. We know.
I sing in praise of Kiffer the Bold whose life was short but full.
Who would walk in the wild without fear.
Who could lay out a line of rats and almost label them so that all would know that these were the rats that Kiffer had taken.
Who was big and warm and welcoming.
Who would sit on a lap with a weight like a dog.
Who would wrap paws around your leg when he was hungry and politely bite to demand that you hurry for a cat has business to be about.
Who would sometimes decide that your dinner was his dinner and try and climb on your plate.
Whose eyes were like amber jewels so bright.
Whose whiskers were long and straight.
Whose fur was a blush of strawberry roan.
Who could smile with the secret smile of a cat.
Who could raise a smile from the saddest of people.
Who lay beside the puppy when she was sleeping and whispered stories of giant cats into her dreaming ears to teach her manners.
Who walked with his head on one side almost as if the world looked better that way.
Whose miaow had the curious croak of the corncrake's cry, as if he had stolen the voice of a bird.
Who was loved.
Kiffer moved on from this life this morning after a brief illness. Yesterday evening he came for food with all the other cats then curled on a cushion underneath the table, quiet. He did not seem to suffer any pain and right to the last his glorious cat eyes were bright and shining. In his last moments he stretched a small stretch and breathed his last breath and moved peacefully on to whatever adventures await a cat.
And I am sad.
An old picture of the Kiffercat in his beautiful prime
When first we started there were four of us, all ginger, and Max. Time has passed. The ginger pride are ghost cats, appart from Elmo. Now the house holds Max, oldest, tabby farm cat, dark, usually found sleeping on a cushion, Elmo, last of the Gingers, beautiful handsome and wonderful who still walks to the high hill top. And now there is Baggage and Bundle, silver mischief in sharp clawed kitten form. The adventures continue.