In a house as old as ours, at this time of year, its sometimes difficult to distinguish between outside and in. Bugs think so – a good number of them cannot tell our kitchen, a place they do not belong, from our yard, a place they are essentially welcome to, there being eff-all I can do about it. We’re tracking in leaves and sticks. We’re dog-sitting for the weekend, so an animal is prowling the entirety of the premises at all hours. On it goes.
The eight cats who live next door consider our backyard their territory and the dog an interloper. When his back is literally turned, they slink along the wall, eyeing him imperiously, daring him out; the moment he whirls around, they disappear. Every now and again he catches the scent of one of them and becomes suddenly ferocious, following the smell everywhere, leaping in the air and snapping at nothing, enthralled with the imaginary chase.
Louisville is a nice place to grow up and our house is a magical place for small children. They are sure they know its secrets as grown people never will: a whole different family living in the attic we cannot access, a ghost in the basement, an archaeological dig site in the back. B’s nephews and niece played on the porch last time they came to visit and one of them summoned me. We turned left out of our the front door, where a narrow alley between our house and the one next to it leads to a low stone wall, to which he pointed.
“There used to be a cat there,” he told me with great authority. And there will be again. All creatures great and small come and go here as they please.