Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fond memories part V- bittersweet edition

Back in the mid '90's I spent a lot of time in Brewer's Hill. The neighborhood at that time was much different than it is now. East of Holton Street, between North Avenue and Reservoir, was very quiet without the new construction, condos, and speed bumps that now grace the neighborhood. Instead, there were vacant lots, industry, and neglect.

The steep hillside leading south and down toward the river from Reservoir was covered with trees, and an unbelievable number of cats lived within. In my wanderings about the urban blight, I would stop and watch them, giving them food and water, as did others. I saw a little old lady get interrogated by the cops there, the trunk of her car open, bags of cat food inside. Shortly after that, the trees were cut down and condos sprouted up. The cats moved on. This is what it looks like now.

I found Action Cat on that hill on my birthday, in 1997- a beautiful, small black kitten, surprisingly tame. I wanted to pick her up and take her home, but I wanted her to be free to choose to come with me. She walked back into the woods to larger black cat; they meowed at each other, and then she came back. I petted her when she jumped onto the stone wall, and then gently picked her up and put her in my car. She lay down on the passenger seat, purring. I looked at the street signs, thinking I could name her after one of them...Hubbard? Buffum?, thank you. As I drove away, I saw a huge (I mean huge) person on a motorized scooter topple over, into the street. I got out of my car and ran towards the person, not knowing how I alone could help...two muscular men came running out of one of the businesses- this was at that time a semi-industrial area- and the three of us helped the person, who seemed unharmed, back onto the scooter again, the front of which had a logo on it: a black cat with the name "Action Cat." (This was not the only time in my life when Two Men mysteriously appeared in a time of urgent need, then disappeared just as quickly.) Action was still purring on the passenger seat when I returned.

Action Cat found the rest beyond the river one year ago today. She was the cat by which all subsequent cats will be measured and found wanting.

Thanks to trap-neuter-return programs, there are now fewer feral cats; thanks to gentrification, there are now more condos. Change is inevitable.


New Mama said...

I used to walk my roommate's dog on that "path" in the nineties. I was pretty sad when that area was developed -- I loved the urban wilderness feel to it.

mikemiller34 said...

What a great story! I see cats on Commerce all the time. The hillside that my apartment overlooks is still very much an urban wilderness. There have been times I've wanted to scoop one of the kitties up, but I never know if they are really strays. Disconcertingly, I also saw a cat playing in The Edge's full dumpster recently.

The River Otter said...

You know, Mike, it's funny but right after I posted this I saw a couple ferals in the Shorewood DPW thing (off the bike path) after not having seen any for a couple years anywhere!
My two current girls have their own rescue stories- they used the internet to find me (Petfinder). If you really want a cat, that is a great way to go.