Sunday, 5 February 2017

I May Be Getting Old, But I am Not Too Old For An Adventure

Ciao raGatti! Mi dispiace... I haven't felt like writing for a while. It has been cold here in Casperia and when it's cold I just feel like curling up in a ball close to one of the warm termosifoni radiators or in front of the camino fireplace if my humans have a fire on. I love it when there is a roaring fire in the camino. Especially when my humans are cooking some sausages there...

I have been thinking a lot about age lately. I hear my humans and their friends discuss how old I am. They tell me that I was born on July 7, 2000, so I am almost 17 years old, as far as I can figure... But I also hear people talk about cat years. Are those different? Why should they be different from human years? Anyway, which ever way you want to calculate it, I have been feeling my age a bit lately. It may be the winter. It slows me down a bit. I am not as spry as I used to be but I can still jump from the toilet to the bathroom sink for a drink and I recently jumped from the kitchen counter to the floor which seemed to surprise and even frighten some people. Ha! Yes, there are days when my hips hurt and I take the stairs slowly but I am still a kitten at heart. I still like to play.

The other day I went for a walk with James, one of my humans. It was a warmish winter day here in Casperia and there was sun warming the stones of the piazza at the top of the town in front of the big church. When we moved here from Canada the bells of this church used to ring three times a day, more on Sundays. They would ring at seven in the morning, at noon and once again in the evening. 

Photo courtesy of Giorgio Clementi

How the dogs in the valley used to howl when they rang, especially in the morning. But the bells have been silent since the last big earthquake. They tell me that there are cracks in part of the roof of the church and that they stopped the bells from ringing because people were afraid that their vibration might cause more damage.  

Anyway, we went up to the piazza for a walk. The grey stone steps that lead to the piazza from the door of my house are always in shade and were very cold to my paws, but once we emerged on the piazza the stones there were a bit warmer, and it was good to feel the sun on my back.

My human picked me up and let me explore a stone wall just below the church bell tower while he did some exercises there. My humans are ageing too and seem to be making an effort to get out and go for a walk every day. I am constantly reminding them that a good stretch is good for them too.

I like to go out for a walk and I really like the piazza in front of the church when it is sunny. Every time I go up there I explore a little bit more. There are a number of stone streets and alleyways that connect with the piazza. I am always searching the plant pots to see if there is any green grass growing there. I loving eating grass. It helps my tummy if I have fur balls, but there is not a lot of grass around my part of the village. Miaow! That really is my one and only complaint about my life here. I miss being around grass.

So every time I go out for a walk and explore a new strada or vicolo I am on the look out for grass and every now and then I come across a blade or two and boy does that make me happy.

I climbed up some stone steps to explore a small stone landing in front of an old abandoned house. The landing was green with weeds and wild herbs but sadly, there was no grass... I did find something that interested me though... There was a big hole under the door to the old cantina... a hole big enough for me to crawl through. 

It was strange. I had been on that landing countless times before but had never noticed the hole before. Perhaps it had been blocked by something previously or perhaps I was too focussed on finding grass during my earlier visits to notice it. But there it was... an adventure waiting to be discovered. 

James had followed me up on to the landing, I guess, to see what I was doing. I looked up at him and he smiled back at me. I took that to mean, "Go ahead, Smokey. Go on and explore," so I slipped into the hole under the door and sniffed around the dark interior for about ten minutes. 

When I slipped through the hole under the old wooden door it took only a second for my eyes to adjust to the dark. Inside was not not anything like the cantine I have been in before. Instead of an ordered pile of firewood and bottles smelling of red wine there was a jumble of collapsed beams, broken terracotta, and crumbling mortar. The room was a ruin. Over and above the smell of crumbled mortar and wormy beams was the unmistakable smell of cat. Though it was in no way a comfortable cantina, it was obviously a refuge for some lesser fortunate felines during inclement weather. As I gingerly made my way through the maze of rotten roof beams and fallen bricks, I thought I could hear something outside. Was it the wind? Lately, my hearing has not been the best. I continued exploring the ruined cantina, pushing through the cobwebs and every now and then being showered by a rain of crumbling mortar.

Unbeknownst to me, James had started to panic when I did not come out right away. Apparently, he had gotten down on his hands and knees and peered into the hole and noticed that the floor of the cantina had collapsed. At that point, he had run back to the house to grab a packet of my favourite cat snacks, Felix Party Mix and when he got back he knelt beside the hole calling me and shaking the package.

Usually if either of my humans did something like this I would come running, but as I mentioned earlier, my hearing is not as good as it used to be and I had travelled quite far into the cantina. I continued to explore. In my place, two grey cats, probably the regular occupants of the cantina, turned up looking for treats. This caused James to panic even further. He was worried about me being surprised by the arrival of these two strange cats who, no doubt, had sharper claws than I do these days. 

James sprinkled the treats far away from the cantina door to distract the new arrivals then ran back to the house and apparently brought back two hammers and a pair of pliers with the intention of breaking down the door to rescue me... But just as he was about to launch his assault on the ancient portal I stuck my head out of the hole and climbed out into the sunshine. I was finished with my adventure. 

James knelt and laid down the tools beside the hole and pulled off his blue scarf and gently brushed away the grey powdery mortar dust that covered my head. He then me up and gently examined me to make sure that I had not been injured in any way while I had been inside the ruined cantina. I was fine of course. I may be almost 17 years old and perhaps am not as nimble as I used to be, but I can still look after myself.

I looked up at James' worried face and blinked a couple of times to reassure him. "Let's go home, Smokey," he said. He picked up the tools and the two us ambled back down the cobbled steps to the house.

When we got inside, I got lots of pats and ten of my favourite snacks. I had had a wonderful adventure. I had gone exploring... done something new, something that broke our winter humdrum routine and at the same time I think I may have frightened James badly.  

James lifted me up to the kitchen sink which is my favourite place to have a cool drink of water. I had a long drink, washing the taste of the cantina dust from my mouth. Then I got down off the counter and jumped into my favourite chair in front of the fireplace and had a nap. I can't wait for Spring to come. I may be almost 17 years old but I am not too old for new adventures.  

Statemi bene raGatti. I will write again when I have some new adventure or news to share.

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