I’m home in the mountains, and I took a walk. It was 32 degrees at 5 o’clock.
I came up a hill and saw a black animal dashing across the road far ahead. I thought it was a dog. When I got to the corner, I saw that it was a cat. A fat black cat.
The cat walked away from me and down the driveway, meowing. It turned around and looked at me and then meowed, twice, three times.
It sat down and looked back at me over its shoulder. So I called to it. Kitty kitty.
The cat walked up to me, slowly. It came all the way up to me.
I took off my glove, slowly, and reached my hand out, slowly. Its fur was smooth and glossy. Its belly hung low. Its eyes were bright and its ears were clean.
I scratched along its spine and around the ears. The cat moved its body to meet my hand, and closed its eyes.
I scratched and petted the cat for a minute. It felt good to scratch a cat. Cats have soft fur and their spines and tails make one long curving line. Their spines undulate when you pet them.
When I started walking again, the cat walked next to me.
What are you doing? I said.
I like cats because they’re independent, they don’t act like dogs. This cat was acting like a dog.
I liked it anyway.
I kept walking. The cat kept following.
I stopped. Kitty, go back to your house.
It rubbed up against a tree and looked at me. I took off my glove and scratched its back again. The cat seemed to prefer my hand to the tree. Cats are very manipulative.
Eventually I told myself that I’d had enough cat tricks and I was getting cold and I needed to keep walking. So I went on.
At the end of the street, I met a woman with three small white dogs. I said hello to her, said hello to her dogs and patted them, and introduced myself, because it’s that kind of neighborhood. She said her name was Tracy.
I asked if she knew who owned the black cat. She said the black cat was hers. She said it follows them sometimes. She seemed embarassed.
She said the cat’s name is Daisy.
When I came back up the street, the cat came back out and let me pet it again.
Daisy, I said. I heard your name is Daisy. Sorry about that. The cat ignored my words and undulated under my hand.
Soft fur warm body moving spine. Part of the forest and part of the house and part of my hand.
Because I petted the cat, my walk was different. The cat was in my walk.
The temperature wasn’t so cold. The sunset was blindingly bright in a crisp sky.
A hawk glided silently over the trees and dove for its prey. A red sign glowed at the shops across two valleys, miles away.
The highest branches were lit by the sunset and they moved at the tips.
I walked for an hour. I could see in the dark. I was warm in my coat. I hung low near the earth and felt the gravity.
The cat was there, the cat is here, the cat was behind the trees, the cat is across the road.
The cat breathes and looks at me and moves its spine, and I breathe and look at it and move my spine.
I took a walk with a cat named Daisy.
Today’s penny is a 1998, the last year that I was owned by a cat.