Armchair Peregrinations

December 13, 1998

Sophie and Ginger are about the cutest cats you've ever seen. I'm sort of partial to them as they are the two newest residents of my mother's house. She's only had them about two months, but I can't remember now what life was like before they arrived. Both were together at the pet store, and so she brought both of them home. They now have a loving home and a doting owner who delights in observing their catlike idiosyncrasies.

They are two truly unique creatures. Ginger is your classic cat. Perfectly formed, pretty face, very much what you'd expect to see when you see a cat. She has a nice, smooth, audible purr and loves to beg for table food. She manages to find the most comfortable spots in the house and curl up there in the most photogenic manner imaginable and take her naps.

Sophie is different. Very different. She is nervous and jumpy, but otherwise lovable, although, like Ginger, doesn't like to be picked up and held. She has huge eyes and a narrow face. Her purring we describe as rough, kind of like an unevenly running motor. She's white and caramel-colored, and when she ambles across the room she gets going with a funny little hopping movement, kangaroo-like. Quite odd, but very endearing. She has a favorite spot in the closet where she sleeps on an old pillow on the floor. Pull back some clothes that are hanging there, and she can be found, comfortably situated in her nook looking up at you with those big eyes and wondering, probably, why on earth you've gone to the trouble to find her and observe her so studiously.

She and Ginger are inseparable. Ginger grooms Sophie every chance she gets, and they mischievously hide and pounce on each other quite playfully. They really are fun to watch and quite the indispensable addition to the house. They are great company for my mother who is endlessly amused and entertained by their antics.

But all in all, cats, in my view, are mysterious creatures, very independent, somewhat aloof, regally detached from all real-world concerns except their own play and discoveries, naps and mealtimes. They are very likable cats. I enjoy them and look forward to seeing them when I visit. But I don't understand them. No way are they anything like the faithful companions dogs are. Still, they're good for my mother. They're good company.

North winds have blown into the Lowcountry, it's cooled off from the record heat we had last week, and seasonable, even Christmas-like weather seems to be returning. Tonight I hear a soft rain falling outside my window, the first rain of any significance we've had in about three months.

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