Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Missy Changes Her Ways

Here is a story that I wrote for Maya in 1999, about Missy.

Now for years and years Missy had a routine for the morning. The first thing that would happen, Granny would wake up from dreaming about Maya, and while she was thinking about Maya, she would get dressed and go downstairs and fix breakfast. Missy would follow along, talking to Granny and being with her wherever she went. After breakfast, Granny would leave for work, and Missy would go out (unless it was raining very hard, and sometimes even then) and check out her territory. She would climb up the mountain and check on all the trees and squirrels and flowers and birds on the mountainside. She would go down the mountain and check on all the cats and dogs who were out that early in the morning. She would clamber over the rooftop and look at the sky. When she was finished, she would go back inside the bedroom window and hang out for the rest of the day, until Granny came home from work.

But, one year something happened way out in the South Pacific Ocean that affected how Missy lived way up in Alaska. There was a weather pattern called El Niño. El Niño made lots of wind (which Maya liked a lot, and thought her Mama had caused) and lots of rain and floods some places and droughts other places. What El Niño did in Juneau was make the winter of 1997/98 very warm. It was so warm that the insects, the mosquitos and no-see-ums, didn't die that winter like they usually do. No, they laid low and waited for summer. And come summer, the new crop of insects were hatched, and last year's crop was coming out of hibernation, and there were twice as many little biters flying around as usual. With twice as many little biters flying around, they flew in Granny's bedroom window during the night and bit her arms and hands and neck. Itchy little bites. Granny would scratch, and then she would bleed. Ugh. Granny's arms were beginning to look just awful, covered with scabs and scratches and bug bites. So, Granny got a screen for her bedroom window, to keep the no-see-ums out. It worked wonderfully. Granny's arms began to look much better.

But, what do you know, a screen that can keep a no-see-um out, can really keep a cat out. Now, Missy couldn't come back in the bedroom window. Granny tried to tell her that, the first day after she put the screen in. "I wouldn't go out just now, if I were you," Granny said to Missy when she went to work, "you can't get back in the window." But, Missy doesn't speak as much English as that, so she didn't understand. She went out and up the mountain anyway. Luckily it was a bright and sunny day, and there was shade on the mountainside to stay cool in, because when she went to the bedroom window to go back inside, she couldn't do it. Oh, poor Missy. She had to wait on the mountainside until Granny got home from work. When Granny climbed the outside stairs, there was Missy waiting for her and talking all about her day and her wait. "Meow, meow, meow," Missy said. "I know," said Granny, "that's what I was trying to tell you this morning."

So, now Missy has had to change her ways. Now, she can't go out when Granny leaves for work if she wants to come in before Granny comes home from work. So now, if it isn't raining when Granny and Missy get up in the morning, Missy immediately goes to the upstairs door so that Granny can let her out onto the roof of the living room. While Granny is brushing her teeth and getting dressed and making her bed, Missy is climbing the mountain and greeting the birds and squirrels, making sure the trees and flowers are still where they belong. When Granny goes downstairs and fixes and eats her breakfast, Missy has gone down the mountain and is saying hello to all of the dogs and cats who are out. And when Granny goes out the front door, Missy comes running and goes in the door. Of course, if it is raining when Missy and Granny get up, Missy hears the rain on the roof and doesn't go to the upstairs door. But, as soon as Granny goes downstairs to make her breakfast, Missy goes to the front door and meows. Then Granny comes to the door and opens it for her. Missy sticks her little nose out the door, sees that it is raining downstairs as well, sniffs in disgust, and goes back to the living room. But, every little once in a while, when it has rained for days and days, Granny opens the door on the rain and Missy shakes her head, sighs, and thinks "Cabin fever. I have cabin fever. Rain or no rain, here I go." Then, out she goes, for a quick check of her territory. And when Granny opens the door to leave for work, there is Missy, wet and bedraggled, but unbowed, waiting to come back in.

So, Maya can easily see, that although the world is a very big place, it is also a very small place. El Niño, which is in the South Pacific, made the weather change in the Pacific Northwest. That made no-see-ums lay low through the winter, so that there were twice as many little biters around come summer. And that caused Granny to put a screen in her bedroom window, which caused Missy to change her ways. So, Maya can see, how hot the water is in the South Pacific can affect the habits of a very small cat in Juneau, Alaska.


Deja Pseu said...

I never fail to be impressed at how smart animals can be.

Ginnie said...

That's a lot of wisdom to impart to a little girl...she's lucky to have a granny like you.

Kay Dennison said...

Lovely story -- I'm sure Maya loved it!

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

That Missy was a smart kitty, for all that we joked about her being kind of dumb. That was just stupid human behavior. ;) (and readers, it was only Richard and I that made such jokes, never Maya's Granny)

Joy Des Jardins said...

Another beautiful story for Maya....what a lucky girl.

Dorothea said...

What an intelligent cat, and a warm and wonderful granny - great story!