We sit around the small tables glad to be out of the sun whose midday glare seems to blind the drivers slowly approaching the Jetty Park lot.
A family chatters, the children laughing at nothing, at everything, and nearby a dog lays out dreaming of a good walk and dinner, hoping for scraps.
We can hear the water of the inlet, the waves breaking onto the beach, visuals left to our imaginations, but we are satisfied with that, and the fact that our tacos here are far more reasonable with the “without the view” discount.
I grant you cats can be peculiar but they have one significant advantage over all other pets, except maybe hamsters and gerbils, for when you need someone to talk to, to unload your problems on, to try and wrestle with a thorny issue of public policy or geopolitical intrigue and that night has swallowed everyone you know, anyone you might dare disturb in the hours after midnight, you may rest assured that a dog would be sleeping somewhere and will not be roused for heaven and earth, but a cat will be wide awake, willing to let you go on and on in exchange for a bit of play, but there is the risk that she or he will disagree with you using a claw for emphasis.
The dog refuses to walk around the house and check the driveway, and so the shells will rain on the village as they do each time she senses fear.
She has a sight beyond that I can fathom, curled under the heat vent, as though the cries of children carry in her dreams, her tail dances against the grate.
On most nights when she makes her final trip, the automatic light over the garage flips on and we can all sleep peacefully until we realize that God has chosen a furry surrogate, lives resting between her paws.
Even a cat knows when the screen is on Zoom, you sit and wait. Or stick your head in the picture so all can acknowledge your presence. Either works, and you know patience is not a virtue, but at times a necessity. You are a cat, after all. Patience is for dogs, poor beasts, having to be walked regularly. There is no freedom being a dog, and when they call you bad, that day is shot for you and you slink off. But cats must sometimes be patient when they are on Zoom, but it gives you time to plot your revenge, which the humans will never expect, but always soon enough forgive.
In my dream, the world was at peace, and I was riding across Kansas on a unicycle, towing my car, packed to the windows, my dog walking alongside urging me to speed up because she wanted to visit South Dakota. I am due for a tricycle, I remind the dog, “the grave more likely,” she responds with a sneer that teeters between love and spite, always precariously balanced, as is her food bowl on the roof of the car. I could tell it was a dream which is not often easy from its midst, by the utter lack of churches, synagogues and mosques, none to be seen and the Great Blue Heron nesting in a scrub pine on the shreds of Holy Books.
We both know that having a pet at our age is wise for they provide a companionship that can be difficult to find. I’ve had both dogs and cats, but the decision this time was reasonably simple, for dogs have an insatiable need to walk their people, weather is no impediment and my arthritis is no longer all that forgiving of damp and cold.
So we settled on a cat, and we have been pleased with our decision – she is joyous, playful and reads our emotional needs, but most importantly, other than not needing to walk us, she has been remarkably adept at training us to live in her new home.