It Takes a Tribe...And Sometimes a Very Long Ladder
This summer, while I was quietly nestled in what is becoming one of my favorite places, the rocky northeast coast of Maine playing camp nurse,my husband called. A late night call, to inform me our cat had been gone all day and still wasn't home. For those who are not "cat people" this does not sound very distressing but considering the previous summer I received the same call and our cat, Sophia, never returned this was incredibly distressing. When the kids and I returned from our time in Maine last summer my husband had to break the news and that is news you never want to have to share with your children. My two youngest with in a week were on Pet Finder searching for a replacement. They found one and we welcomed Walter Mittens into our home. This time we were not going to be searching for another cat.
As my husband is casually telling me that Walter hadn't been seen all day I shrieked into the phone, "Get outside and find that cat!" We live with a nature preserve behind us. Since Sophia's disappearance it has been our practice to only let Walter out during the day with our extra large dog, Ellie as his chaperone. My fear was since it was now dark that poor creature would end up as someone's dinner. My husband called back a while later and explained he walked into the woods and could hear Walter meowing but couldn't see him. "I think he is stuck up one of the trees." Trees that are a good 50 feet up. "I am going to bed" , were his next words. I bit my tongue. He was lucky I was practically in Canada. If I had been home we would have worked all night to get that poor animal down from wherever he was.
The next morning he called to let me know he had found Walter, deep in our woods and approximately 40 feet up a tree. Our tallest ladder is about 10 feet. I put a call out on social media and a group text to my local girlfriends. In the meantime my husband called animal control and they said not to worry cats always come down. I guess they missed the 40 feet up the tree for over 12 hours part.
As the day went on I would get a text from a friend who had a ladder, another from one who knew someone who had a ladder, and another form one who could come help with the ladder when one was found. Eventually, one of my girlfriends came with her husband's ladder and sent me a picture of the ladder and circled where my cat was crouched, still meowing. Her ladder didn't reach. My husband then called another friend of ours and she suggested her father who was a contractor and had several ladders. A couple hours later and I received a text from another friend explaining she was holding the ladder for my husband. I texted back to stop texting and hold the ladder! They were unsuccessful and she had to leave to get her kids. Another friend's husband arrived sometime after that and they were successful in getting Walter out of the tree. It had been a long, exhausting day.
The story, as it was told to me later by my "texting while laddering" friend was that she didn't realize what she had gotten herself into and showed up at our house in her flip flops to just hold a ladder. My husband , apparently unable to locate any of my shoes, made her wear his sneakers because the tree was far into our woods and there was nothing but prickle bushes and mosquitos. She said they tromped through the woods, her practically tipping over from poor balance, thanks to the sneakers, and the awkward weight of the ladder. She said she stood beneath the tree trying her best to hold the ladder but it swayed and when my husband realized he wasn't high enough he moved the ladder up while standing on it some 30 feet up, bouncing the ladder against the tree as he went. There is a reason I was not home for this. Of course, this was not the version my husband told me. He said my friend stood at the base of the tree with our big, blue Ikea bag yelling, "Just drop him! I'll catch him!" My girlfriend vehemently denied this version but with those two both versions could be the truth. She had to leave before my husband could get Walter down and a while later another friend showed up and he and my husband were finally able to free the cat from the tree. One life down but safe and unharmed.
Admittedly my husband and I can be a lot of work, for one another and for those who have found themselves in our inner circle. We have gotten ourselves into some ridiculous situations but have always had someone who was willing to help. It usually leads to years of jokes but we are willing to roll with that. Over the years we have put some of our friends through a series of unfortunate events and yet they are still hanging around.
We have a small tribe of our own. We have friends who watch out for our children, who feed us when we are sick, who hug us when we are sad, who make us laugh when we need it most. We have friends who show up with ladders and friends who show up with alcohol when the day has been a little too rough. We count our blessings in those friendships. Sister Theresa said ,"Some people come into your life to be a blessing and others come to be a lesson." For us we have found many who have been a blessing. Perhaps we ,then are the lesson.
When the kids and I arrived home a week later, we were greeted by our extra large dog and my exuberant husband but no Walter. I raised my eye brows and was told ,"I haven't let him out he is around somewhere." Which turned into us going to bed without seeing Walter, which turned into me getting up twice during the night and going outside to call for him, which turned into the two of us standing in PJs holding our mugs of steaming morning liquid, scratching our heads like cartoon characters. Until the light bulb lit above my husband's head. He handed me his mug and walked towards our truck. "Ya know," he said," just before you guys got home last night I was taking stuff out of the truck and..." He opened the door and little Walter came tumbling out. He let out an annoyed little meow and ran for the house.
Poor Walter may only have 7 lives left but at least he is surrounded by a fabulous tribe and lots of ladders.