A Perfect Reflection

When someone tells you it can’t be done it’s more a reflection of their limitations, not yours. (unless they tell you that you can’t turn yourself into a rainbow farting unicorn. Then you can trust that to be bang on.)

Charley Cat – pastel on paper – 18″ tall x 13″ wide

When I was a kid we had a cat named Louie. He was an ordinary tabby cat and we all loved him. He was one of those perfect cats that let you hold them upside down and cradle them in your arms like a baby. My sister would play with him. I think she loved him most of all and he loved her. They would play for hours and they would play just like cats play with each other. He would maul her arms and give her little bites. We would be amused and somewhat horrified to see her arms bloodied with shallow little scratches.

Now I have two cats. This is one. We call him Charley and he is the perfect reincarnation of Louie. I call him Fatty because he is solid. He wasn’t solid when he showed up at our Tracy farm wild and emaciated. You couldn’t get within 20 feet of him and he would run under the tack shed or into the hay barn. I started putting out food and little by little he would get closer and closer. One day as I put the food in his bowl just under the edge of the tack shed he reached out and scratched my finger. Give it to me! It wasn’t an aggressive move. He didn’t want me to go away. He just wanted his food. To make a long story short, we won him over and his inner Louie quickly came tumbling out.

Now he lays on our bed with his new friend Bella. I want to rename them Shy and Notshy. He’s not shy. Bella is shy. She was a stray just like him. She showed up at the ranch one day and pretty soon we felt it was time for her to become an indoor cat. So we brought her in and the love affair began. She is the best thing that ever happened to Charley. They adore each other. I look at them when they are grooming each other and I think “that’s a perfect reflection of Marty and me!”. Except Marty and I don’t lick each other. That would be gross.

Mr. Fox

What follows is one of my most favorite quotes. I have one other. A poem called “God Speaks” by Rainer Maria Rilke. This quote by Henry Beston fits my subject for today and for the foreseeable future. I am undertaking a project to draw as many of our animal brethren as I can. The first is Mr. Fox. I think foxes are lovely.

“When the Pleiades and the wind in the grass are no longer a part of the human spirit, a part of very flesh and bone, man becomes, as it were a kind of cosmic outlaw, having neither the completeness and integrity of the animal nor the birthright of a true humanity.
We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the Earth.” – Henry Beston from The Outermost House
Mr Fox