Outside, the north wind,
coming and passing,
swelling and dying,
lifts the frozen sand drives it
a-rattle against the lidless windows
and we may
sit stroking the cat stroking the cat
and smiling sleepily, prrrr.
~William Carlos Williams
José is our front porch cat. That is as opposed to our garage cat, our upper barn cat, our lower barn cats and those that come and go on the farm because we’re a hospitable place where food is always on the table.
But he is the king of the farm cats. No one questions him (usually) and no one occupies his front porch bench without his express permission. His Majesty shows mercy to any who show proper submission, and every once in awhile, that includes the dogs. He’s trained every pup here over the years.
He is the official front porch farm greeter, rising from his pillowy bench throne to investigate any newcomer up the sidewalk, mewing his cheerful little “chirp” of a meow in welcome. Then he turns around and returns to his perch.
José also is a performance cat, having been trained in his younger years to ride on a bareback pad on our Haflingers, walk, trot and over jumps (sorry, no pictures). This once again proved his ability to get any creature, large or small, to submit to his will.
The love of his life is our daughter, Lea. José arrived on our farm 13+ years ago from a city home where he had been adopted as a stray of indeterminate age, and was too intimidating to the other resident cats. José needed his own kingdom and his own queen so he set his eyes on her and decided he was exactly what she needed. They have had many happy snuggles together over the years whenever she returns home, including only a month ago during the holidays.
The winter weather was brutal over the past month with weeks of bitter northeast wind blowing right over José’s front porch bed. Usually during northeasters he picks up and moves to another of our farm buildings until the storm is done, and then reclaims his favorite spot when he deems it cozy enough to be worthy of him.
Only this time, when the wind went away, José didn’t return.
I’ve looked, I’ve called, I’ve left goodies out. But no José. No chirpy meow, no yellow eyed gaze, no black velvet fur to stroke, no rumbly purr to vibrate in my lap.
I fear he has left for warmer quarters far far away from here as the north wind was dying this winter.
I think he was dying too, and somewhere on the farm — I just haven’t found it yet — there is a black coat that he left behind.
He doesn’t need it any more.