Thursday, March 17, 2011

Morning of the Lynx

In which we consider a secret which some would keep from us.

Thursday's Child

You know, Gentle Readers, that I am not "a morning person." I may have mentioned that a time or two before. And yet mornings are often so full of wonderful surprises. I really should do morning more often.

This morning, I had no choice but to do whatever had to be done to get the carcass upright and rebooted and at least partially functioning by the really scandalous hour of seven a.m. At the latest. For things to work out optimally, I really, REALLY needed to be out the front door by six. A.M. Ante-meridian. Before noon. Morning. Oh my god.

How do people DO this? I used to do it, back in the day.
There was a time when seven am would find me, suited and heeled, made-up and coiffed, at my computer screen working on the day's financial reports for the corporate vampire which sucked day after day at my soul's essence, converting that essence and that of countless others like me into the coveted ambrosia:  Earnings Per Share. I thought I loved it; the pay, the prestige. I told myself I loved it. Certainly, I was good at what I did back then. Effective. Seven pm would find me still at that desk, eyes and nerves wired open and functional by several pots of strong coffee consumed during the day, fingers plugged into the keyboard like some cybernetic monstrosity. My feet ached a little, after twelve or eighteen hours in four inch spikes. I ignored them. I considered myself slightly better off in this than my male colleagues. At least I didn't have to wear a tie.

I gave up that lifestyle long ago; fled from it, really, if you want to know; ran screaming bloody murder. I keep in my closet one dark suit for funerals and one pair of low heeled pumps. I haven't worn stilettos in more than a decade. I hope  I never have to again.

Because of the cubicle years, I am become a sun lover. Too many years of being beneath florescent lights hours before dawn and long, long after sunset have made me so. I spent too many days and months and years away from the sun. Now, most days, I wake to the touch of his rays on my eyelids, and I note his going down in the evening, his release of the sky to a purpleing twilight. I seldom get up before dawn.

Today, I had no choice. Neighbors and friends and I had committed to a Trap-Neuter-Return project on a block about two miles from my house. There is a feral colony of cats, which started small, but is growing. You know how it goes. There is one un-spayed female; she gives birth to kittens. Soon there is a feral population in danger of starvation because the colony has grown too large to be supported by the resources available to it. "Catch and kill" is bandied about as a solution.

The human neighbors of this particular colony were willing to try something different. They at first sought "rehoming" for the cats, which is very difficult. One reason for the difficulty is there are so many, many feral cats compared to available homes. It's incredibly difficult to find human homes for feral cats, so difficult in fact that many shelters will automatically "put down", "euthanize", that is, kill, any feral cat brought to them. Ferals require special handling and care in order to be socialized to humans, and many shelters just don't have the resources. 

There is another reason that "rehoming" will not take care of a feral "problem", that is, won't eliminate a feral colony. The colony exists in a particular location because there are resources there. There is food, and shelter. If the existing colony is removed, within a very short time other cats will come. One female, one litter of kittens, and the cycle is begun again.

Another alternative is TNR--Trap-Neuter-Return. Catch the cats, stop the reproduction, return them to their home environment with human caregivers in place to feed and monitor the colony. Let them live out their lives as ferals. There are so many benefits to this approach, to the cats and to their human neighbors. You can tell, I am sure, Gentle Reader, this is the approach I support. But this is not an article to educate and argue for TNR.  So let us continue.

The human neighbors on this block, faced with a rising feral cat population, were willing to hear about TNR. They are people of good heart. They agreed to give it a go. They agreed to open their backyards to a trapping team. We agreed to do everything in our power to see to it that there would be no more kittens, to stabilize the colony population so humans and cats can live peaceably together.

This week is the first week of trapping, and when my alarm started going off at five am (getting out the door by seven requires a couple hours booting up time), I knew I had no choice but to do whatever had to be done to get the carcass upright and rebooted and at least partially functioning. This is not easy. But today it was up to me.

So many people have made this project possible, have contributed and done so much. Today, it was my turn to check the traps, and to get any captured kitty to the veterinarian by 8 a.m. for surgery.

This shouldn't be such a big thing. Up, out of bed, over to check the trap, swing by the vet, if need be, then home. I have mentioned before, I believe, that I just don't DO mornings. Not unless I have to. Not unless it's for a REALLY good cause.

But this was for a good cause.

A really good cause.

There are lives on the line.

"Blessed are the merciful," said a poor carpenter long ago, "for they shall obtain mercy."  Now, I don't know about you, Gentle Reader, but I know myself that I am in need of a powerful lot of mercy. Somehow, the reboot took. I crawled out of bed.

A strong cup of coffee got a few synapses firing.  I pulled out the super duper monster trucklike off roading baby stroller, grabbed keys and a couple of bungee cords, threw on a cardigan, stuffed my feet into my favorite running shoes, and set out. It was only a two mile walk. Now that I was upright and mostly functioning, it should be no problem.

I always forget how magnificent a thing are mornings. I stepped outside; a sixty degree spring day breathed softly in my face, caressing. It was ten minutes before official sunrise, but that didn't keep the light away. The riotous light of dawn filled the east; birdsong filled the air. It's been a long, bitter winter, but winter recedes. Both purple crocus and yellow peeped at me from beneath leaf fall in yards along the way. Long branches of forsythia, tiny yellow blooms already beginning to decorate the dark bark, waved at me as I passed. The buds on magnolia trees ache to burst open.

With my back to the east, almost halfway to my destination, I turned to look over my shoulder. The sun, a perfect red disk in the sky, was climbing up from the east. I could have sworn he was smiling.

I want to tell you a secret, Dear Reader. It's a secret "they" don't want us to share. "They" work very hard to keep us in fear, mistrusting ourselves and each other, for people crushed by fear are easier to control than those who are not afraid. There are indeed, evil deeds afoot in the world, and people of poisoned and twisted heart. But here is the secret: they are not the majority. There are people of good heart in the world, lots and lots and lots of them, millions, billions. There are evil deeds afoot, but there are good ones prowling around, too. They just go quietly, for the most part, on soft padded feet, while the bad deeds make a terrible racket, to frighten us, and to convince us that the good ones aren't there.

But, Dear Reader, they are there.

There was indeed a kitty in the humane trap, a beautiful Lynx Point (so the veterinarian's office tells me is the term for his markings), a male, who will soon be neutered and returned to his alley home. I was a bit late getting to the trap; could I make it to surgery by eight am, the final drop off time? There was no way. I called the vet's office, told them I would be twenty minutes late, but I had a feral to bring in. Of course, they promised. Bring him.

Once the kitty crate was all bungee corded into place, I began to wrestle  the super duper monster trucklike off roading baby stroller down the steps from the yard of the kind neighbor who had allowed us to place traps on his property. Two other neighbors, people I have never met, appeared from nowhere, helped carry the stroller to sidewalk level, then vanished about their Thursday tasks.

The world is full of goodhearted people. Full to bursting.

Lynx Cat will be picked up from surgery this afternoon by yet another goodhearted person. He is being neutered by a veterinarian who performs spay/neuter, vaccination, and eartipping for ferals at cost only. We could not afford the project were it otherwise.

The world is full of people doing good deeds. Full to bursting.

He will be returned to his alley, where yet another group of people will continue to feed him, day in and day out, for as long as he lives.

Do not let them convince you, Gentle Reader, that hatred and evil and greed and violence rule the land. They are illusory despots, and their armies are pitifully small. Do not let them oppress you with their fear.

Goodness is afoot. Watch for her.


  1. There are lots of kind-hearted people out there. Sometimes they are right before our eyes, just waiting for the right program to come along. I support the TNR program also, but in body, but with donations when I can. It's a wonderful program.