Don’t Let ‘Em Out at Sunset

driveway view at sunset with cat

This one’s been known to push it

We had a cat named Clementine once. She was a beautiful short-haired blue-black kitty with dark chocolate colored skin on the bottom of her paws. “Bad to the bone,” I always said of her. We lived out in the country on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. One evening she wanted to go out at sunset something fierce. What could happen? We had several acres, the grass was mowed. It wasn’t like a wilderness, exactly. So we let her out, and that was that. Neither of us saw or heard a thing, and she never came back.

I looked for her for weeks. I walked or biked the little country roads and checked the ditches. I hunted up and down the hedgerow along our property and way back in the woods, listening and calling. With or without permission, I prowled through neighbors’ old abandoned barns, expecting to find a corpse or skeleton I’d be able to identify from the faded purple collar. Months later I’d go drive around the nearby village, looking into people’s yards to see if anyone had stolen her. Several years after all this, I did find a cat’s skull underneath a bush—how often does that happen?—but just the head, no other bones, and certainly no collar. It could have been her, it could have been anything. Maybe she got eaten by a fox or torn up by a pack of dogs.

The thing about Clementine was, she’d let you play with her feet. I especially liked to squeeze her paws just so and make her claws extend—she thought it was the grandest thing and purred and purred beside me. Those were the days I used to stretch out on the sofa and watch TV for hours. (If only I could have known how my perception of that time would be affected by the years!)

Who wouldn’t want to roam at sunset, though? So many things to eat you, make you feel alive.

John Hamilton Farr lives in Taos, New Mexico, U.S.A. with his classical pianist wife. “Possibly the only place I can get away with this,” he says. As New York Times best-selling author James C. Moore (Bush’s Brain) put it in a review of John’s first book, Buffalo Lights is the work of a man attuned to the world who sees it differently than you and I and writes about it with a language and a vision of life that is impossible to ignore.” John is the author of BUFFALO LIGHTS, TAOS SOUL, ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE, and THE HELEN CHRONICLES. He has been publishing online since 1996 (Zoo Zone, Farr Site, MacFaust, GRACK!, FarrFeed) and blogs regularly here at JHFARR.COM. See also → John’s Twitter profile, Amazon Author Page, video channel at YouTube, and website photos at SmugMug. To email John, please see CONTACT INFO on About page.  

  • Marti Fenton September 14, 2015, 12:52 AM

    You are so right ! I do my best to bring the cats in before the Sun goes down. They change into wild animals within minutes. So far I’ve been lucky but there have been some close scrapes. George came back very late one night. I had been through the sage brush behind our house calling him all afternoon. After he came back he was jumpy for days. I’m pretty sure he almost became somebody’s dinner.

    • Marti Fenton September 14, 2015, 12:58 AM

      Sometimes we need to take care what we name our critters.
      “Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Clementine. You are lost and gone forever, dreadful sorry Clementine.”

      • JHF September 14, 2015, 8:15 AM

        Yes, well, there IS that. 🙂

  • Carmel Glover September 14, 2015, 2:00 AM

    Recently I read somewhere that cats don’t like their paws manipulated. This surprised me because I’ve had many cats and, as far as I can remember, they all liked me to stroke the pads of their paws … particularly the last one, who used to deliberately give me her paws to stroke.

    • JHF September 14, 2015, 8:17 AM

      Callie the Wonder Cat will slash you to ribbons if you even touch her paws. They’re all different, I guess. But my overall experience with cats does match yours!

  • M.J. September 15, 2015, 5:28 AM

    Awe! I had a big Persian black cat named Midnight for years. He was always getting into fights guarding the property, if left outside at night. He only had one friend a big white cat named Tinker. He would follow the kids around the neighborhood to see where they were going. He warned me of a tornado before it hit our area by climbing the backdoor screen and screaming. He was definitely our “guard cat”. He disappeared one night in a terrible rain storm. I searched for days in the rain. I even walked through a knee deep pond trying to see if he drowned. Then later when we had all cried and given up, I saw him walking out someone’s drive a long way from the house. I stopped picked him up. He was dry, even his collar, and well fed. He was fine and lived many more years always staying home. He would let the kids even roll all over him and cover him up with blankets and take rides in a doll buggy. He was well loved. Your story brought back old memories.

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