Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Cat, the Catch and the Catastrophe

Reflections on a Past Life

The Highway between the cotage and Launceston
Some of you may have heard, but wild winds and extremely heavy rains have been lashing northern Tasmania for a few days.
As I sit warm, safe and comfortable inside the fortress that is 'the Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage', my thoughts have been with the many sheep and cattle that surround me.
Despite the fact that I will eat a few of them over my many remaining years, I can't help but feel a little sadness for them as they stand in their waterlogged paddocks open to whatever the wild weather throws at them.

The Cat and the Catch
The Port Macquarie Fisherman's Co-op
While thinking of these poor, wet animals, my mind turned to thoughts of a cat.
Living in the Northern New South Wales coastal town of Port Macquarie for many years, I would often supplement my diet by catching a fish or two from the wharf of the Fisherman's Co-op.
A half loaf of bread would provide me with all of my burlie and bait needs and life was good.
One day, as I  was landing a good sized bream, an old black cat seemed to just materialise beside me and very politely asked for the fish.
Because I am a bit of a softy, I complied with her wishes and as she was eating we had a bit of a chat.
I told her that, from then on, I would give her the first fish of the day and, somehow, each time the tip of my rod would bend with the first fish of the day, I would hear a quiet meow behind me.
Almost beside the Co-op building were two very old, run down, 2-story houses and I was eventually able to rent the downstairs of one of them that was, once, a boat-shed.
It was wonderful as it was in the centre of the town's restaurant and cafe district and fronted onto the wharf that housed the fishing and tourist boats.
It turned out that my landlady, who lived upstairs, owned the old black mumma-cat and that it decided to leave home when two other cats had been introduced.
The landlady had, for years, served the old cat breakfast and lunch at the Co-op and she (the cat) had found comfortable accommodation in the underground car-park of a nearby government building.

The Feline and the Frangipani
The frangipani
One day I answered the door to find a lady standing there with something wrapped in a towel in her hands.
My heart sank as she unwrapped a very sad, very wet cat and asked if it was mine.
I seems that, after harassing her for quite some time, some young males had kicked her into the river where, with an incoming tide, she became stuck under the wharf.
She was quite sick and as she wouldn't live with the landlady and her cats, I agreed to look after her.
She slept, wrapped-up, on my bed at night and on a bed behind the glass front door of a day, so she had the warmth all day.
She stayed with me for three days until one morning, as I was getting out of bed, my feet touched something furry and cold. Mumma-cat was dead.
In between the two houses there was a 'grassy knoll' housing an old, gnarled frangipani tree that thousands of tourists had gathered flowers from over many decades.
I found a spot under the tree and buried her.

The Boy the Building and the Bulldozer
Eventually the bulldozers devoured my home, the frangipany and old mumma-cat to make way for a restaurant and office space.
The complex was so desperately needed in the town that it was a massive three years after its completion before the first small space in the building was tenented.

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