When we were in Woodstock at the end of September, we made our traditional visit to Gillingham's General Store. Gillingham's is a wonderful, sprawling, old-fashioned place; it's been in business since 1886. It sells all kinds of things Vermonters need and tourists want: syrup, groceries, hardware, cleaning and kitchen supplies, wooden toys, woolens, flannels, thermals, local handicrafts, and so on. There's an upscale and extensive selection of chocolate and wine, since this is the Woodstock crowd.
I'm always collecting Christmas ornaments, so I bought a little handmade felt owl and put it right into my bag instead of having it wrapped in paper. At dinner that night (Skunk Hollow Tavern, chicken pot pie), I decided to take a look at it. It was gone. I dashed out to check the car; it wasn't there. I realized that it must have flown out of my purse when I pulled out my scarf as we were walking in Woodstock earlier in the day. Damn. I had been too busy shivering and looking at the scenery to look down when I reached for my big cotton wrap.
Since we were driving through town to head back to our inn anyway, we decided to hunt a little, just in case... I was sorry to lose the owl, but it was more about my carelessness and bad luck. I could always go back to Gillingham's and buy another owl. But it wouldn't be the same. We used the flashlights on our iPhones to check the sidewalk where I remembered pulling out my scarf. We had no luck, of course. It was dark, there were leaves on the ground, and that street is right off the main drag and a popular place to walk. How ridiculous to think it would turn up anyway. It was a colorful little owl; anyone who spotted it in the leaves would pick it up and take it home.
The next day, around lunchtime, we decided to walk in the same direction again. It was a gorgeous day and we like to take at the bridge at the end of the street. Since it had been about 24 hours since our first walk, we were not expecting to find the owl. But as we passed the fine old houses along our way, we found it, hanging from a fencepost!
So what a happy ending to my little story, huh? Keep reading.
When we got home, I put the owl on my desk, tucked away in a safe spot. The next morning, I woke up to find a soggy owl lying on the bedroom floor. Someone had carried it off, licked it all over, covered it in cat fur, chewed up its string, bitten its beak, and tried to amputate one of its orange feet. I had a mild conniption. Then I cleaned off the fur, massaged away few fang marks, and put it on a Very High Shelf to dry out. I've been planning for more than a month to reattach its little foot but I haven't gotten up my nerve. I'm a terrible seamstress; things often look worse after I've "fixed" them. I will eventually get around to it. In the meantime, I thought this story shouldn't wait.
We wondered who the thief was. But we didn't wonder all that much. No self-respecting cat ever looks guilty, so detective work was necessary. Wendy and Possum just don't do that sort of thing. They never did as kittens, lulling us into a false sense of security when we adopted Harris and Toffee. Toffee also doesn't steal items much, either, and he's rarely on my desk. When he's been up to no good, things (Christmas tree light bulbs, for example) disappear entirely because he's eaten them. That left Harris and Lion. Both were capable of the crime; it's their kind of sport. But the fact that the owl turned up on the bedroom carpet — where Harris always drags whatever he steals from Lion — leads me to point the finger at Harris. Yet again. I'm sure it was him — unless Lion stole it first and then Harris stole it from Lion.