We've lately been at my brother's and sister-in-law's place in the Mayenne, a hundred miles or so east of here. This departure from our general practice of not stirring our stumps to travel and stay anywhere during the winter months was brought about by matters health and hospital related for them, which I hope we've been some help with, so it wasn't a pleasure jaunt. We were very lucky with the weather, however, which was quite cold but dry and often bright, and the lack of frosts until now has meant that there's still a lot of very beautiful autumn colour about, enhanced by lower and more dramatic wintry light than one normally gets to see it in, so the driving we had to do through the countryside was often a pleasure despite the somewhat anxious reasons for doing it. We're back in Brittany now for the moment.
Another unexpected source of joy and amusement was their latest cat companion. Some years ago my brother wrote a piece which I begged from him as a guest post here, following the decease of the last of the cats they had at that time. For a long time that post had more page views by far than any other on this blog; I wasn't quite sure what the traffic sources were but it certainly deserved the attention. As predicted, they didn't stay catless for long: now, as well as three plump tabbies and tortoiseshells and the obligatory skulking tom-cat on the periphery, they have been joined by this enchanting little wisp of smoke:
They call her Belle but she goes by many names, according to who's talking to her.
One of these was Sirène, which was given her by the children of the family up the road who she first presented herself to, because, when she was still quite a small kitten back in the summer, they were messing about in a boat on the fishing lake next to their house when she appeared on the bank, calling plaintively, then jumped into the water and swam out to them. They would have happily kept her but are only seasonal visitors, so when they had to go back to England she very quickly fetched up at my brother and s-i-l's place. They certainly weren't looking for yet another cat, but she is such a special one, and I think has been a valuable source of company, comfort and amusement to them both at a difficult time. Despite the frequent problems experienced with introducing female cats in particular to one another, she has quite easily found her way to the top of the hierarchy, largely because her nature is almost entirely cheeky, playful and affectionate: everything is a source of potential fun to her, the occasional cuffs which she mostly dishes out to, rather than reeives from, the bigger cats are more of a claws-in game than any serious hostility, and she can run rings round them anyway.
She regarded Molly in a similar light, an opportunity to react melodramatically sometimes,
but really nothing to worry about, and possible a source of more fun and games.
Mol has always been quite fond of cats, having been largely raised by them, but in the past if a fluffy feline high-tailed it away from her she would often give chase. Now she's really rather too old, deaf and blind to bother, but she enjoys endlessly following cat trails around the site and eating up cat biscuits at every opportunity. Belle countered by eating her dog croquettes, which made her sick, unless that was the mouse she had for dessert. From time to time, if Mol was sitting with us, her head in Tom's or my s-i-l's lap, the cat would scamper up the arm and along the back of the sofa, onto their shoulders and hop-skip-and-a-jump over the top of the the dog's head before Mol knew what was happening. A couple of times Belle raised her paw and hissed a warning, and Mol seemed foggily to be aware that she should back off; only once was there an aggrieved yelp over the food bowl, but no visibly scratched nose.
When I suggested to her one afternoon of low sun and dancing gnats, golden leave and red berries, that she and I should take a walk around the grounds with a camera, she greeted the idea with enthusiasm, and pranced, posed and struck attitudes with the aplomb of an experienced model on a location shoot.
(yes, she can get through that fence easily)
One cool cat, I reckon.