I sat outside this morning with my camera. I watched Mother, my barn cat, this loving and murderous creature. This is her favorite resting spot on a summer morning, by the corner of the farmhouse, just out of the sun. The photo looks pastoral, peaceful. It sounded that way, framed by the sound of baaahing sheep and song birds.
But I know Mother and I know why she loves this spot. Just around the corner are the bird feeders and she can lie there napping a few feet from the birds, and she can stand up and pick one or two off every now and then, even though they are high. And this is the highway from which chipmunks and moles and squirrels cross from the hills to the big meadow. And this is the roadway where mice move to and from the big barn and the bits of droppings and grain and chicken feed that they love.
And I know this because even while I was admiring Mother and her peaceful aura, she opened her eyes and nailed a mouse and I could see she already had gotten herself a bird and a mole, as bits and pieces of them were deposited as a gift for me by the back door. These body parts are not visible in the photo, they are obscured by the grass.
It's Mother's favorite napping spot. I love the line between love and mayhem that is the life of the barn cat. I love the real life of real animals. Not what we need them to be. What they are.