There’s an aluminum ladder sitting in the back yard, just under the small kitchen window over my stove. It arrived at this location quite a few years ago when one fine spring day my husband and I locked ourselves out of the house. The plan had been to open the window I knew to not be locked, and I, being the smaller of the two of us, would scramble through over the stove and let him into the house. The plan didn’t work, as we couldn’t get the window open, so we ended up breaking in through the laundry room. The ladder remained where we’d placed it, because it was as good a place as any other for it to sit and wait to be needed again. It has also served as a gentle reminder to never leave the house without making sure I have my keys.
Over the years, various and sundry colony cats have perched atop that ladder and peered into our kitchen, as though the activities in my kitchen were a movie or play put on just for them. They’ve watched me cook meals, paint paintings, plan and finish all manner of projects. They’ve also watched the antics of the house cats, and on pleasant days, when I’ve thrown open the windows, information between the two cat worlds has been exchanged. Sometimes, when I’m late to feed the colony, one of them will sing loudly for their supper. So long as there are cats in the window, the ladder will never be removed.
It delights me when Cali Coco or Bonkers is sitting there when I stumble to the kitchen to make the morning coffee or to have a cat watching over my dinner preparations. There have been cats in the kitchen window for so long now, it would feel strange if they weren’t there. A cat sitting on a ladder outside my kitchen window is a fixed object in the scenery of my life, which is why I sometimes merely note a cat being there, without paying too much mind to said cat. This is especially true if the colony cats have already been fed, and their reason for peering into the window isn’t to remind me their bowls are empty, or if I am intently focused on whatever it is that brought me to the kitchen. Tonight, I was deeply focused on kneading dough for a pizza crust when I noticed a cat on the ladder.
It was just a brief glimpse, as I moved to grab more flour to add to the too wet dough. “Brown cat, must be Bonkers,” my brain noted. It wasn’t until I’d finished kneading and stretching the future pizza crust and turned to put it in the oven that I realized the cat was not a cat. It had its back to me, but the fur was all wrong. Too fluffy, and the body was far too round and not at all cat-like. Then it turned to look at me. A cat-sized raccoon! I tapped on the window, hoping it would run away, but instead it pawed at the window glass, as if it had seen the colony cats do just this very thing and be rewarded with full bowls of kibble.
Alas, the trick didn’t work for the raccoon, adorable though he was. He’ll just have to wait until tomorrow night and eat the colony’s leftovers. Perhaps, I’ll put out a bit extra. Eventually, he grew bored of watching me staring back at him and disappeared into the darkness of the yard. I wonder if he’ll come back to watch another kitchen window show? Was I entertaining enough for a repeat visit?