Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Generous Welcome

Teasel watches me unpack

Maisie keeps me company

Please, don't leave us again!

For me, there is sometimes a moment of awkwardness when I welcome a guest to my home. It is in no way connected to the degree of attachment I may feel for them. There has been the happy anticipation of a visit, special food prepared and waiting, a guest room made up, clean and inviting with a favorite quilt on the bed, a little basket of treats on the bedside stand. Yet, as I wait, poised for an arriving car, or a knock at the door, something in me frays a bit. Perhaps the problem is a lack of spontaneity, a sense that in those first few moments of reconnecting, I need a script, stage directions to guide me until former familiarity is established and I am again at ease.

Our cats have no such reservations. Their rituals of greeting are something we enjoy when returning to the house after work or errands. It has become almost a game. We turn off the car and approach the entry door quietly, stopping to look through the upper glass before turning the knob. It is a rare time that keen feline ears have missed our coming and we usually enter to a gathering of happy cats. Teasel waits for me to bend toward her with my hand outstretched. She rises on her hind legs pushing her stripy head into my palm. Charlie bustles around our ankles, Raisin begins a plaintive litany of neglect, the others chime in, boldly or shyly according to their various natures.

Arriving home yesterday after a five day absence, we found the cats all gathered and alert for greeting duty. We spoke their names and said, "Oh, poor things, did you think we would never return?"

While I changed litter boxes [ phew!] Jimmy lined up dishes and served their "treat"--canned cat food. I opened windows, cleaned up a collection of hawked up hairballs, checked the planters on the porch. The cats followed us from room to room, chatting, a bit anxious.

There are times when we have been away overnight or for a weekend when we return to find that after the initial welcoming ceremony we are treated for a few hours with disdain. The cats hunch furry shoulders and stroll away as if to say, "Think you can leave and come back at your leisure and expect us to fall all over you?" There will be acts of deliberate naughtiness, noisy uproar, wild chasings through the house before they can settle down.

There was none of that last evening. We put things away, righted a begonia which had been knocked from the kitchen windowsill, made an early supper. My husband, tired from days of driving, went for a nap. At last I could sit down in here, read e-mail, open a package, begin to cautiously feel at home again. Sweet-natured Maisie hopped onto my lap and sat, kneading gently for a few minutes. Teasel perched briefly on the edge of the desk. Furry tails flicked past my ankles. Absorbed for awhile in reading and typing it took a bit for the unusual stillness to register. Looking about, I saw that my friends were keeping me company: two sprawled on the windowsill, Teasel curled but alert in my sewing chair; Mrs. Beasely observed me, cross-eyed, from the wing chair. Hearing the soft pad of paws, I watched as Eggnog and Raisin headed for the bedroom to join Jimmy in his nap.

How lovely to be welcomed, to slip into that familiar companionship which needs few words, sharing space in a comfortable and easy sense of simply being home.

1 comment:

  1. They are all so pretty! The must have missed you enough after 5 days to withhold the cold shoulder treatment and just give you affection. Pretty pretty cats.