Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Maine in June: Looking Back

We're back from spending a week in Southwest Harbor, one of our favorite places. We've been staying in the same bungalow at the same inn for about 15 years. Since we're lazy, we rarely climb mountains, nor do we ever kayak, canoe, or bike. In short, we don't do most of the outdoorsy things that people visit Acadia National Park to do. (We've been known to sail occasionally, and we've recently discovered lake swimming. We do walk a lot, and hike a bit, especially if it can be done in flip flops.) We spend most of our time up there, reading in the hot tub and lounging by the pool. We socialize with the innkeepers, any neighbors who drop by, and fellow guests who want a warm soak after their outdoorsy activities. We especially love being there in June, before the crowds arrive and jam up everything on the island. June also means lupines and lilacs.

So, let's get the bad news over first. On the porch, our first morning, we looked around expectantly for Ruby, the wonderful cat from across the street. In recent years, she would routinely arrive for petting and a nap in someone's lap during breakfast. She roamed the neighborhood and lorded over the inn property, eating birds and keeping the mouse population down. We couldn't wait to see her, and we said so. But the innkeepers told us she'd been killed by a speeding truck in the winter. Worse — one of the two young girls in her family had witnessed it.

Beautiful Ruby

The innkeepers are far from being "cat people" and they had always complained about Ruby, mainly because she acted like she owned the place — and them. She was a free spirit, making herself at home all over the inn. But they admitted to being very upset about her death. They missed her, and kept saying so throughout our stay. And the mouse population is back up, too.

We were sad about it all week. But I have to say I wasn't shocked or surprised. I realized that I was surprised to always find Ruby still around each time we'd arrive. The odds were against her, I knew. Something horrible and sudden tends to happen to outdoor cats, or else they die from a contagious disease caught during a cat fight. That's what happened to most of ours, anyway, back home in Pennsylvania. When I was a kid, we didn't know the "indoor cat" concept existed. And too many of our family's cats would suddenly stop showing up for supper. And I'd wait and wait, for months and sometimes years, for one to return.

So I felt terrible for those little girls; I have an idea of what they went through, although I never had the terrible luck to be a witness. Sometime around the end of our visit, I heard that they have two indoor cats now. Good. I feel better. But I wish that they, too, hadn't learned the hard way. Outdoor cats lead very exciting, fulfilling lives — for an average of 2 or 3 years.

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