An unexpected plot twist has occurred. We returned to France expecting to be reunited with Smoky the cat, the french cat whom I’d pictured from Canada in a little beret smoking a cigarette.
She’d refused by claw and hiss to come with Tris when he’d gone to pick her up after our final tour around the Adriatic, and so she’d spent the year with Claire’s friend’s family.
She originally appeared miaowing in a tree, as a starved kitten, in the fall of our first year here. We’d fed her, dealt with her diarrhea, and worms, and sterilized her, and she’d lived a contented life on Kate’s bed, a grey furry pussycat who loved to lie on the her back in the sun with her fluffy tummy gently stroked.
So Apolline’s family brought her back, and she hid under a bed crying while the kids, after some intense attention, left her to play a roaring game of hide and seek. Unfortunately despite the plan to keep her contained in one room until comfortable, someone forgot, a door was left open, and she skedaddled, in a puff of smoke (if I may). No more to be seen.
Long were the calls for Smoky, and plates of food were left out. It was no use. After several days I had the unpleasant experience while walking into town of passing a dead gray cat on the side of the road, the right size and with it’s eyes pecked out – inconclusive perhaps but my heart dropped.
So we all felt sorry about Smoky. Until one day about 2 weeks later, straight out of the blue (smoke), an email: Apolline’s mom reporting the return of Smoky! Starved and exhausted, poor creature and no one more astonished than me. Apolline’s mom surmised that she used the sound of church bells to work her way home, 5 km away.
It turned out they were prepared to give us a second chance: after a recovery period she was brought back, this time to the top floor room with 3 doors to pass to the outside. And now here she is, a little wild, and with stinky poos like when she was a kitten. We’re not ready yet to risk letting her outdoors quite yet, only 2 days on, despite her heartfelt pleas and her very soft tummy once more turned up with a deep purr to a friendly stroke.
But there she is, a strange little bit of happenchance.
In another bit of happy chance, as Claire and I left the grocery store yesterday afternoon, we saw her friend from school, Lilou, with her mom pulling out in the car just ahead of us. We followed along as she took the major turnoff out of town towards our house. “Keep up, mom!” begged Claire as the car ahead zipped along. We live in the country, 5 km and a few turns out of town, but as we got closer to the turn onto our road, Claire started quivering with excitement. “Follow her mom, no matter which way she goes!” “Well …I’ll follow as long as she’s going our way: cross your fingers” (imagining myself pulling in at her house saying, ‘Hi, we chased/tailed you home, does your daughter want to come play at our house?’).
But then, amazingly, she turned off at our turnoff, narrowing her end location to about 1-2 km from us. “It’s working!” crowed Claire, referring to her crossed fingers. And then to our further delight, they turned off at our little 300 m dead end lane.
Turns out Lilou lives 200 m across the peach fields with her little sister. Tris walked her over and Claire stayed for 1.5 hrs playing, I could hear them laughing and shrieking from our terrace. Lilou is coming over Saturday afternoon. Jordan meanwhile on Sat will be at Arthur’s house, about 1.5 km away, Arthur’s family having dropped by yesterday morning (they knew where we live since they had also rented this house before buying), and Kate will be at a sleepover.
And Smoky and I will get to hang out.