Thank you for the generous "welcome back" following Wednesday's post. I am touched to the core--or coeur--by your encouraging words and warm reception! These flowers are for you, en vous remerciant! Picture taken in Ile Saint Louis, Paris.
: miaowing (or le cri du chat)
Depuis le couloir, j'ai entendu le miaulement des chatons.
From the hallway, I heard the miaowing of kittens.
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
Before I tell you what happened during my one-month sabbatical, I should tell you what happened just before it.
Cat litter. Cat litter happened.
Three days before my one-month departure we were a family of 6: four humans, two dogs. But in the early hours of November 4th--when the moon was high over the Mediterranean Sea and all the valley lay sleeping--our son smuggled home a kitty.
As I lie there in bed oblivious to the goings-on, Max came into my room. Speaking in hushed tones he informed me he had a Christmas present for Papa.
"But it's November, Max! Noël is next month."
"Yes, but they'll be out of stock by the holidays..." With that our 18-year-old motioned for me to follow him up to his sister's room.
Opening the bedroom door I saw my daughter's tousled hair. The rest of her was hiding behind a sheet. As Jackie lowered the drap I saw a second outline: that of a perky-eared interloper.
"You guys, no! No, no, no!" This was no time to take on a cat--not even an especially cute one with its natural bow-tie and white socks. No.... But the miaulement of the fragile creature had my heart saying YES.
Meantime, three precious days remained in which to check off my To-Do list. There were a lot of loose ends to tie up before my one month absence. Already I fretted about household management--how would the kids and the dogs fare while we were away? And now a 6-week-old kitten!
True, Jean-Marc would return the week after the Seine to Normandy cruise--but I would be away for the month. Sure, my husband could take over on his return, but would everything run smoothly without the woman with the measuring stick? (Who would correctly measure the dog--and cat--food? Who would verify water bowl level? "You know," I kept reminding everyone. "An animal can go without food--but NOT without water!" I said this just to drive home the point--of course an animal needed la nourriture, too!)
"Look, I think it is best that we take the kitten when Papa and I return from our trip. Besides, it is only 6 weeks old--it needs another two weeks of mother's milk!"
Alas, it was too late. The kitten's mom had washed her paws of the responsibility. She was already out hustling on the streets again. And this was out of my control--but I could take responsibility for a kitten. It would need to be neutered, for one....
My pre-sabbatical To-Do list grew. Only now priorities were re-arranged: instead of a suitcase belt (sorely needed for my torn valise), "kitty milk" now topped the chart. As count-down to departure loomed, I could be found whiling away the minutes in the supermarket Pets aisle. We needed infant formula for chatons and kitty litter. But which kind of each? (There were several to choose from!) It was easy to linger among pet paraphernalia when my eyes caught on non-essentials like the jingle-bell collar (the green one or the red one?), or the jouets (the felt mouse or the plastic jingle ball). I didn't dare consider the cat skyscraper. Gosh no!). I grabbed the inexpensive toys. Tossing them in my caddy, I told myself I would deal with my husband's reaction later!
Though I wanted our kitty to feel comfortable and to meet all its needs, I had my doubts about how this would all work out. Sure, the kids were motivated now. But would they really keep up their end of the kitty-litter/feeding agreement? And what about family vacations--already a tricky situation when it comes to pet care.
Mostly I wondered if we were capable of giving another living, breathing soul the attention and care it deserved. And what about the little creature's safety? After posting a photo of our adoptee on Facebook, a commenter wrote in: Please make sure he's an in-door cat. You will triple his life-span.
Could we make sure? Were we willing and able to watch all the doors and windows... when in summertime we live les portes ouverts, or "doors open"? Besides, did I really agree with indoor cat philosophy? It had a kind of Stepford Wives feel about it: eerie and unnatural. To never feel growing grass beneath one's paws--to live in a contained world--that's no life for a cat!
But what do I know? Inexperienced, I would have to develop my cat philosophy and opinions along the way.
And it looks like there will be plenty of experience to be had. Returning home from my sabbatical, groggy from jetlag, I tripped over a basket.
"Oh, hello you!" I said, greeting our little minou.
That's when I heard not one miaulament.... but two!
(To be continued)
Do you have any cat tips for me? Any ideas for a waste management system for those kitty crottes? How to control litterbox odor? Is your cat an indoor or outdoor cat? Declawed or not? Homemade cat toy ideas? Click here to answer or to see other cat tips.
le coeur = heart
la nourriture = food
la valise = bag, suitcase
le chaton = kitty
le jouet = toy
le minou = kitty
I took my friend Linda to a favorite Paris haunt.
Something about this soft-spoken bouquet, set on a modest table with its own cloth. Can the eyes ever tire of these scenes? To comment on this post, click here.
What to Do in Paris? I don't want to forget this latest tip by Lanier. This one's going on my bucket list!
They are now offering a guided tour of the kitchen gardens at Versailles which are run by the national School of horticulture. There aren't nearly the crowds you find at Versailles and you will see possibly every form of espallier known to mankind. It really is a worthwhile outing made even better by the lovely folks at la Cuisine Paris. Posted by: Lanier Cordell
Thanks, Lanier! And for more tips on what to do in Paris, click here. (There are two pages of comments, so when you get to the end of the first page, click the link beneath the last tip to get to the next page.)
A Message from Kristi: For twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety