By Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
He would have been nine years old.
When we said Hullo Chocolat he would answer. When I went to bed and he was curled up on one of the living-room sits Goodnight Chocolat and he would murmur back. In the evening when I was reading or tapping on the laptop, the cherry on top was Chocolat sighing - isn't it deluverly to be home, safe, warm and comfortable, with my family! At the end of the day we called him in. Either he came from the bottom of the garden chirpeling a long story all the way. Or it was a laconic 's OK, I'm here, and you can go to bed ...
I hear his toenails tapping on the laminate floor and expect to see him walk round the bookshelf. Or to hear him whup thru the cat door. We come home and look for the cats. We had to take the black cat shadow board from the windowsill - it made our heart turn over to 'see him there'.
Chocolat was 'born' in November 2006. Black tiny kitten played at night on a tarred road, hunting crickets. He used up 6 of his lives. Child’s fist sized patch of darkness, in the shade cast by the streetlight behind the veranda pillar. Last thing I saw as I peeked behind the curtain at night. First evening he joined our family, he slept on my lap. Never again!
Henry brought him home. These people will be looking for a second cat soon. I am moving on.
As a boing boing kitten, he leapt onto the table as I ate my muesli, and swiped spoon, broken bowl, and muesli to the ground. Then he hoovered up the muesli, and taught us to serve a spoonful of yoghurt each morning. (Henry preferred strawberry yoghurt)
When we moved to the new Porterville house, we kept Aragon and him in, until they knew where home was. Chocolat perched on the bedroom windowsill, yelling Out, Out, OUT! Half grown he had stripes on his chest, later he had scattered white hairs among the not black.
Sadly, as a feral kitten, M’sieur Chocolat was in disgrace. He caught the first Lil Cuss.
But I LIKE sitting in the rain! You know how your cat likes to perch uncomfortably on the corner of the fence, where he can survey the neighbours? The Ungardener made Chocolat a cat-sit in Porterville.
When asked – r u hungry Chocolat, he licked his lips thoughtfully? He sat at his dinner dish looking abstracted, and patient. Or shot through the cat door, like an Olympic sprinter as the starting pistol is fired! (Aragon goes through sedately, as befits an elderly lady). After dinner, as he walked away, Chocolat paused for an arabesque, first the right, then the left.
Chocolat with gardener's paws (me too). Stop FUSSing, woman!
Once I woke early. Little voice saying - Is anyone there? Help! Fell out of bed, to find Chocolat looking irritably at the bulrushes. I saw a ginger kitten, cowering in the shallow water. While Chocolat stomped around grumbling - That bleddie cat is In My GARDEN!!! The ginger saga continued in False Bay as next door's cat fled up the lemon tree to leap, for her wall.
Chocolat was frequently at Elephant’s Eye Light Railway in our Porterville garden.
Waiting on the tracks so he won’t miss it, but he always
To find the coolest place on a hot summer afternoon, follow the cats. A cat knows, heat rises, slate tiles are cooler. Lie in the shade, where you can catch the afternoon breeze. Chocolat below the Adirondack, from where he could watch the birds.
It’s enough to make a cat laugh, my father used to say.
Walking home from choir practice, as I reached our entrance a pool of deeper shadow resolved into the unmistakeable silhouette of a cat, betrayed by the lion's ears. On the gatepost draped around the little seated concrete lion, was Chocolat. He escorted me down the long dark driveway. As I walked I talked to the cat (my mother said - that way you’re not talking to yourself!) Chocolat skipped down the driveway. I am safe home.
He wouldn't eat and we went to the vet to get his teeth cleaned. Cracked tooth. Before the anaesthetic, tests. Anaemic. Leukaemia. Kidney failure. Time to let him go over the Rainbow Bridge.
(If you mouse over teal blue text, it turns seaweed red.
Those are my links.
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