Frankie and the Squirrel
by Daniel M. WeissLet me tell you a story, “a la Paul Harvey” but please do not look at the last paragraph until you read all the following text, then you’ll know the rest of the story!
If you look at the calendar it tells you spring has almost passed and we are near to summer. Yet, I must wonder where did the days of spring go? Sure, we saw some early spring flowers, bushes and dogwood trees bloom. But since April and May, and now into June, the storied days of a new spring were few and far between.
So far as I can remember in all the past years of my life, and they are many, we have never experienced such an uncompromising Spring season. The weather, cool, cloudy and rainy had done its wonderful work in fertilizing the soil. The grass when cut gave off an aroma that permeated the area almost a block away. For my personal sense of smell, the most expensive perfume could not come close to competing with this aroma of newly cut grass. No odor could. Nature was at work creating her best.
It was in this setting, with the beautiful greening of our lawns, due to the cloudy and rainy weather, that we were blessed with a day rare, until now. Cool, brightly lit by the sun, it was a day to cherish after the human suffering through almost two months of constant rainy, cloudy weather. We would read of some flooding, sewers were blocked; homes were inundated by rainwater that could not run off. In my neighborhood, our homes with their side, front and back lawns were spared from this misery.
Nature relaxing its hold on this unlike spring weather finally gave us a day lifting the human spirit in a gesture of benevolence.
After finishing an early supper, I decided to sit out on the patio of the back lawn and take in the sight of the beautiful green created by this rainy season, along with the bushes, trees, and lawns. The back-to-back four houses on either side of our lawns comprised this little world of magnificent eye appealing and relaxing expanse.
You may wonder what does this have to do with Frankie and the squirrel? Have a little patience, that happening will be noted after the following paragraphs below:
Frankie explored this new green world when she was about a year old. Full of pep and ginger at that young age, and I assume tired of being cooped up, she had followed me downstairs to the rec room, upon my opening the door to the patio, she bolted! Escaped from the loving Weiss household, Johnnie, her companion cat, would just sit on the threshold without moving. Frankie was running around on the lawns, exploring every nook and cranny to her utter delight. I tried catching her; could you catch a cat running about 31 miles an hour? Neither could I, although I was five years younger than at the writing of this story. When I approached her, she’d disappear under a bushy area and go about her business of running and exploring. She really loved her freedom.
If cats have past memories, it must have reminded of her days at the New Jersey Race Track. She was less than five months old (before she was captured and put up for adoption) and had the freedom most, if not all animals’ love. She knew the smell of the horses, stables, and whatever other odor came from that environment. Even at that young age, she was capable of catching mice invading her territory. These mice inhabited the area of the horse stalls. While our lawns, bushes and trees and hiding places were homes to birds, squirrels and rabbits, as well as groundhogs and the rare raccoon, Frankie, luckily, encountered none of these creatures. I had given up chasing this beautiful feline Calico. I think she soon realized there were no mice to catch and about half an hour later Frankie brushed past Johnnie as she ran back into the house. I left the patio door purposely open awaiting her return with the hope that she’d suffer no ill effects from her escapade. The freedom she enjoyed that day was to last her a long time.
Now, about five years later, after my early supper, it was still sunny and light, I took a rocker-folding chair to sit out on the patio and enjoy the cool pleasant evening, of course my busybody, Frankie the Calico, just about six years old, had to see what her Mr. Mom was up to; Johnnie, being the lady she was and is, sat on the living room picture windowsill observing the world go by from her vantage point.
If I tell you sitting on the patio and smelling the good earth while my eyes were taking in the greenery was like manna from Heaven, you should believe me. Meanwhile, Frankie had settled on one of the orange swivel chairs in the rec room. Often, when I came down into my clock and workshop, she’d take her place on the swivel chair, with her front legs and pretty head poking out from beneath the armrest looking through the entryway at me in the workshop. Frankie would sit for hours or until I quit working on whatever I was doing. She would go to the bottom of the stair landing and wait for me to approach before scampering up the steps to whatever room struck her fancy at that moment.
No! I’m not boasting if I tell you she was in love with her Mr. Mom, it would not be an exaggeration. Many cats are capable of exhibiting that trait. Frankie is a feline that wants to spend as much time as possible with the object of her devotion, me, her Mr. Mom, excepting when she’s in a resting or sleeping mode, and that’s pretty often. Johnnie’s the same way, but for the fact she’s not as demonstrative or flamboyant as Frankie.
Hardly a night passes by that I do not awaken and find both animals in bed with me. More often than not, Frankie would make her way under the sheets resting or asleep tightly against my legs and causing me muscle aches from dozing in an unnatural position for hours at a time. How could I object, she knows her love for me is returned a thousand times over. Having the love and comfort of these animals resolves many a lonely problem for this person who lost his wife May 8, 1997, six months before the adoption of these mysterious feline creatures. The more you think you understand them, the less you learn you know. It’s better that way, let the mystery be.
While sitting and taking in the calming beauty of the back lawn with its deep-colored green grass, along with the trees and bushes that divided our houses, my mind turned to Frankie and her joyful escapade some five years ago. How could I, her loving Mr. Mom, take in all this beauty while Frankie sat, faithfully, on the orange swivel chair, waiting for me to come back into her presence in the rec room? I decided she needed a treat. I would take her out on the patio to keep me company and enjoy the greenery.
Not having a body cat harness, I attached a light rope line to the ring that held her cat tag on the collar, making sure her neck was free to move around, I had no intention of strangling my loving Calico cat. Frankie did not object as I did this; but she would not move off the swivel chair.
Picking Frankie up in my arms I opened the door to take her outside. Putting her down gently, she walked up the three step garden area I made so many long years ago when we first moved into the house. As I held on to the rope Frankie walked past the Rose of Sharon tree (or bush) and spotted a bird, she immediately tried to go after it. But the rope restrained her, I gave the rope slack, her neck was too valuable.
I got up out of the chair and began walking Frankie on the lawn, suddenly she saw a squirrel, one of the back lawn tree residents, and she immediately started to strain against the rope in trying to get at the squirrel.
With her straining at the rope, instincts many, many, millions of years old came to the fore, she was only obeying her inheritance. Some years ago, I remember quickly scanning through a library book concerning the domestic cat’s ancestry. Frankie’s long line of ancestors went through possibly six or seven stages, I do not recall their Latin names, nor would I be able to spell even one. These terrible and ferocious ancestors had passed on through evolution, genes and bloodlines that shaped the cat’s mind to brook no interference, or interloper on their presumed territory, these grounds, this home genetically, was her territory.
Even with the passage of untold eons, even with the domestication of the feline over five thousand years, even with her being a house cat for almost six years her inborn instincts millions of years old could not be wiped clean from her mammalian memory.
Instantly, I began reflecting on our humanoid ancestry. The anthropologists tell us we are from two to five million years old. No one knows for sure. At best, it’s only a guess, an estimate, since we evolved from some creature other than the human being of today. While the chimpanzee has some 98% plus of our genetic structure, many of today’s best scientific minds will not offer the opinion that they are our ancestors.
It may surprise you to know the domestic cat, besides the humanoid of today that this beautiful feline, is one of the few rare mammals that kills to protect its territory and that man will kill merely for the sport of killing. The domestic cat with all its love for man and domestication has lost none of its killing instincts and if possible will kill any animal invading its perceived territory. While for man, who will kill for many perceived notions, we have no inkling, no explanation. Is man that far evolved ahead of the domestic cat?
The big cats, lions, tigers, jaguars, cheetahs, etc., will kill only for food. The male lion when taking over a female tribe of lions, however, will kill all the cubs of that tribe, he knows, instinct wise, the females instantly come into heat, and he will proceed to impregnate the females, wanting only his offspring to exist. Not so the domestic cat. Yet...
I have read of rare instances where a male cat of a tribe killed the kittens produced by some other male. Could that be a throwback to his inheritance?
The domestic cat, your cat, my cat, is a killing machine, not hungry, it’s only dedicated to protecting is territory by killing and presenting its keeper with the gift of its kill. Many research projects prove this point beyond conjecture.
What has this to do with Frankie and the squirrel?
My Calico cat, Frankie, while possibly five to six times larger than the squirrel she was straining to get at would have been a sorry match against this little, bushy tailed monster who has evolved with so many deceptions so as to survive to the present day. Frankie did not know the squirrel’s teeth and claws could have ripped her apart.
Frankie lost her claws upon adoption; Frankie lost her best defense, all her teeth, due to an inherited disease called Gingivitis. But she never lost the inherited ability millions of years old in wanting to defend her territory.
Now, you know the rest of the story . . .