It's nearly Christmas, it's stinking hot, and the hot dry wind is blustering about. I haven't been out in the garden yet, but already I've put the small hoses on. I may not start any gardening until later in the afternoon. There is no real hurry - Ha! Evidence of my new improved attitude.
Monday 15th December - Day Five of my Retirement
Much much later... I have watched a lot of cricket, read a lot, and was just about to go to bed. But someone (a distant neighbour) rang up - they had a striped tabby cat hanging around which they have been feeding. Was it the long lost Sifter cat that we had advertised as lost? After a quick visit at 9:45 pm unfortunately it wasn't, but I have their phone number. - It is a beautiful cat, very friendly, very stripey, with perfect ears. We can bring it home to live with us if we want to.
Tuesday 16th December
You just won't believe this. The real Sifter, large as life turned up late last night - growling, demanding food. Showing all the gratitude of a teenager (after all I've done for you... you waltz back in here... you didn't even bother to get in touch... where have you been these last 14 months? etc) he scoffed some tea (growling) then off he went into the night. This morning like a pathetic parent I have been wandering around the property calling out in my most cat-seductive voice. No sign of him!
It's FOURTEEN MONTHS that he has been AWOL - Fourteen months with no Sifter. Then this ridiculous coincidence - we drive to look at Sifter Mark 2, talk about maybe adopting him, and the old version turns up an hour later growling for food. If this is a sign it's a jolly confusing one! I need some time and space to work it out - am off outside to rake out rubbish and ponder about the paths that cats take in our lives. Fourteen months a ridiculous length of time for a cat to go off sifting about.
It's 2 pm and I've gone apres-gardening a little early today. I've been weeding and clearing in two extremely dry spots - one the Frisbee Border, and the other the Island Bed. As a consequence I now have a serious hose shifting regime. I don't quite understand why the irrigation has so little effect on these two gardens - it might be timely to put in a complaint. I've also been calling out for Sifter (no luck) and I even took the dog for a long walk around the edge of the property. Where has Sifter gone? Will he come back tonight? Does he have a feeding circuit? (he looked pretty fat, shiny and sleek) - Or has he gone half-feral? Has he been catching rabbits and mice for the last fourteen months? Weird cat, not to want the company of the humans who feed him. Watch this space for (hopefully) the continuing story of Sifter the Ungrateful.
Wednesday 17th December
Sifter didn't come back last night. Now I feel more angry than ever before - and will talk seriously with Stephen tonight about the possibility of giving the Sifter Mark 2 version a good home. Also I worry that a semi-feral cat is not a very neighbourly thing to "own". Should we trap him next time we see him - if we ever see him again? But would a semi-feral cat chirp at our back door, come in and make straight for the corner of the kitchen floor where his food bowl used to be - FOURTEEN MONTHS AGO?
Today so far I have done no gardening - but I have been out walking with my friend around some public gardens in town. Inspiring? Not really, apart from the structures (like a huge fernery, and three cute little summer houses). Now I wonder what I feel like doing, in the hottest part of the day - perhaps I'll just put on the hoses, while I wait for cooler temperatures. I might even go for a "walk" in the water race. Then like a fool I will probably go calling again for Sifter the Deserter Cat.
Fern by the Water
Thursday 18th December
Stephen is wise, regarding the reappearance of Sifter, saying he is a hopeless cat. He means it quite unemotionally, pointing out that the other cats seek out human company - they sit by you, or on your lap, visit you, curl up on or in the bed - they try to talk to you, they follow you around, etc. Whereas Sifter in his last months with us did none of these. Sifter (says Stephen the Wise) changed in that last year, and now must be considered to have gone feral. Around our immediate land feral cats are not too dangerous, and Sifter is probably welcome keeping down the wild rabbit and rodent population - there are no bush birds being endangered. Stephen wonders if the nearby fires had anything to do with Sifter's short and sweet reappearance in our kitchen.
Today is going to be another really hot gardening day, so I might try to get some sense of discipline going by peeping back at the first retirement list. Then I can see if I can get all the items on it done. For example, I have one more misplaced rhododendron to move, and while organising the hoses in the Wattle Woods I can be raking the path (multi-tasking!). I will be back soon to report my successes. There are three(!) new gardening magazines and a Heritage Britain glossy for me to fantasise over when I return.
It's just got a bit too hot, and like a wee rebel I haven't done anything on the retirement list. I've been weeding the Driveway Border, and I've found a second rhododendron which needs repositioning out of the glaring hot sun - it flowers late, and needs much more shade.
I've spent a couple of hours weeding around the back of the Jelly Bean Garden, and scraping clear some of the Wattle Woods paths (mentioned in my list). The hoses have been on all day and I have an organised system for moving them where they are needed. I didn't move the rhododendrons - may do that first thing tomorrow. The first cricket test starts tomorrow, so hopefully I can garden and be entertained at the same time. It's the first real summer gardening day when there's an international cricket match on.
I will let son Leroy have the last word regarding Sifter. He says:
You can take the Cat out of the Street
But you can't take the Street out of the Cat.