The cat had appeared last winter, finding itself a sort of den under a juniper east of Chee's trailer-a place where a lower limb, a boulder, a rusted barrel formed a closed cul-de-sac. It had become a familiar, if suspicious, neighbor. During the spring, Chee had formed a habit of leaving out table scraps to feed it after heavy snows. Then when the snow melt ended and the spring drought arrived, he began leaving out water in a coffee can. But easy water attracted other animals, and birds and sometimes they turned it over. And so, one afternoon when there was absolutely nothing else to do, Chee had removed the door, hacksawed out a cat-sized rectangle through it's bottom frame, and then attached a plywood flap, using leather hinges and Miracle Glue. He had done it on a whim, partly to see if the ultra cautious cat could be taught to use it. If the cat did, it would gain access to a colony of field mice that seemed ot have moved into chee's trailer. And the watering problem would be solved. Chee felt slightly uneasy about the water. If he hadn't started this meddling, nature would have taken it's normal course. The cat would have moved down the slop and found itself a den closer to the San Juan-which was never dry. But Chee had interfered. And now Chee was stuck with a dependent.
Chee's interest, originally had been simple curiosity. Once, obviously, the cat had been owned by someone. It was skinny now, with a long scar over it's ribs and a patch of fur missing from it's right leg, but it still wore a collar and, despite its condition, it had a purebred look. He'd described it to the women in the pet store at Farmington-tan fur, heavy hind legs, round head, pointed ears; reminded you of a bobcat, and like a bobcat it had a mere stub of a tail. the woman had said it must be a Manx. "Somebody's pet. People are always bringing their pets along on vacations, " she'd said, disapproving, "and then they don't take care of them and they get out of the car and that's the end of them." She'd asked Chee if he could catch it and bring it in, "so somebody can take care ot it"
Chee doubted if he could get his hands on the cat, and hadn't tried. He was too much the traditional Navajo to interfere with an animal without a reason.
Wow what a lot of life's lesson in just a page of a book. Did you catch them? There are several good points here.
The first of course is : If you feed a cat it's going to move in! Notice how Chee is trying to keep balance in his life. In his culture if you start having big troubles then you are out of balance. They have a ceremony to get you back in harmony, each ceremony different determined by what has happen. So to stay "In" harmony he works at his thoughts to not dwell on just his relationship with the on again off again girlfriend, or the job that is worrying him. What a lesson there is for us as women. What thoughts play in our heads too much? I think , am I pleasing this person, are my meals balanced, can anyone enjoy comfort in my messy home, am I too round in body for people to see how smart and loving I am? Oh I could go on and on. It consumes me. I need some harmony don't you think?
We need a way to get back into harmony at times. We talked about a song or some music to change our mood, but this isn't what I mean here. Harmony is that feeling that we are in balance, we know who we are, we can exist with others, we can feel comfort in our life. No not that we are in control because who is ever really in control? Harmony is something that is only inside and nothing on the outside should touch it. But things do touch our inside, our harmony.
The Navajos have a beautiful ceremony restoring harmony, full of sand painting that remind you of stories you would have been raised with as a child. A Blessing way can last a whole week, all your family and friends come, there is the ceremony and food and time together. when the sick person is finished they not only feel loved they feel in harmony.
There is a ceremony we can do to put us back in balance. We each have them. Starting the day with prayer. Using our time to do something new. Reading a different kind of book. What can we do to get into balance? I'm sure you have ideas. I think a good way to start is to look at how our life goes and see if we can see where there is too much of something and too little of something else. One thing that comes to mind is time away from responsibility.
I missed my yearly weekend retreat with friends this year and it had me thinking how much a mom needs those brakes away from her responsibilities. How I've loved those moments away. When my first child was a baby a short couple of classes in cake decorating taken with a friend refueled me for most the year. You need your "little get aways", your spouse needs his little get aways. I think the only way this helps keep you in balance is for you to know you are going to have that brake. Put it on the calendar, dinner with girl friends, a fishing trip for him. If you have that time in your future and you know you will go then you can put up with cranky children on hard days, you can set aside frustration with spouses that can't easily be solved and hold off for that time away. No money. Oh my I know all about that. The library has group reading programs you can go to, the church has classes for women, a walk around the block with other women. Oh so many things that don't cost a thing. Do this for yourselves.
Plan something now OK. How often? Oh for me once a year is good but for mothers of those kiddos' do something once a month. Have some time for yourselves. Maybe you are thinking a month in the tropics but wouldn't even an hour away help?
Back to the cat. Try as hard as Chee did to make this cat safe and cared for he couldn't make it work. It was a city cat in a very wild world. He kindly sent it away to the city to his on again off again girlfriend to have and love. I felt better knowing that cat was no longer coyote bait! The tail less cat in the photo belongs with #5 child of mine. Kricket lives with me now and is as sassy now as she was 10 plus years ago.