Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 18: Cat

This morning when I pulled up the bedroom window blind, I was surprised to look out and see a small grey cat curled up in the middle of the lawn, seemingly quite at ease despite being settled atop a pile of frosted leaves. Its back was to me so it didn't notice me at the window. I wondered if maybe it was watching squirrels. It seemed alert, looking around without alarm, not huddled or fearful. When the furnace kicked on and warm vapors began to drift out from the furnace outlet vent just below the bedroom window, I wondered if maybe the cat was drawing on some small warmth by positioning itself there. Or maybe that was just coincidence. The incessant squirrel show that plays out in the backyard trees has been made all the easier to observe now thanks to the lack of leaf cover.

I was reminded of one of my favorite Hiroshige woodblock prints from the mid-19th century, Cat in Window, which depicts a bobtail white cat perched on a window sill, calmly looking out over the town at dusk, Mount Fuji and a flight of birds in the distant background. (It's part of the master artist's "One Hundred View of Edo" series.) The cat is the essence of watchful stillness. As a reminder to cultivate this quality in myself, a reproduction of this image once hung by my desk, when my own window looked out over bustling Rockland.

You look soft to touch
grey cat curled on frosted lawn,
calmly watching ... what?

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