Monday, November 1, 2010
I have been communing with nature. Never one to neglect exercise I went outside an hour ago to sit on a bench and vigorously absorb vitamin D. I also took my New York Times crossword puzzle. Opposite of nocturnal. Yes, well, Twain said we are not quite sane at night, but it was daytime and the mind races from whatever night did to it. Then nature arrived.
An orange tomcat slunk under the gate. I didn't know him. He didn't know me. He looked freaked, wide-eyed and wary. He cowered, then sat. He was showing himself, trying to make friends. It is, after all, suddenly November and even California gets chilly at night. This cat was a creature of nature saying he'd decided against nightlife. Opposite of nocturnal. We shared a quest.
"Hello kitty," I said. "You seem troubled. Perhaps I can help."
"Help?" He replied,"What can you know about it? You're human, a silly bag of thoughts enslaved by the products of its own reasoning!"
"Well, that's quite an accusation. Is that what nature really thinks?"
"Cat's don't think, we arrive at that estimate instinctively. But yes, it reflects natural consensus."
"Nature hates us?"
"Nature is indifferent, but we cats hate you like anything..."
"I'm getting a beer. Would you like some cream?"
"Cats love you."
I went in to the kitchen and returned with a bottle of stout and bowl of cream. The cat was asleep on the bench but woke at my approach.
"Humans are noisy." He said.
"I know. And you hate and love us."
"Really? Why would I do that?"
"You don't remember our conversation before the cream."
"No need. Understand, you humans live incredibly long needy lives that are full of consequences. For us cats, life is short and full of hairballs. We may have had memory once but we're well now."
"You chose amnesia? That's insane!"
"I'm not the one talking with a cat."
He had me there. I decided to return to the crossword.
"Seven letters." I said.
"A mathematical term for the amount of letters in the opposite of nocturnal."
"Mathematics, like memories, are unneccessary. Can mathematics tell you how to vault something twenty times your height and land uninjured?"
"No, but it informs our vocabulary by allowing us to calculate what time it is. That's how we identify nocturnal animals."
"Some are nocturnal," he said. "Some are not. Scientifically speaking, it depends on when they get up."
He finished his cream in silence, and I my beer. I had hoped nature would communicate some more useful truths than those contained in this cat, so I waited. When he rose, I spoke.
"I've enjoyed our drink together, and our conversation. Did you?"
"I forget," said the cat as he slunk toward the gate. "But, just for winter, I've decided to become diurnal."
"Diurnal?" I cried, "That's it! Damned ugly word though."
"Now you're catching on, silly thoughtbag," he said, and was gone.