Let me tell you a little story about Maisy. She is special. When my daughter was ten years old we took her to our local cat shelter to look for ‘her’ kitten – the kitten we had promised her for ages. I wasn’t particularly keen on getting another cat at that point (as in, “not another pet. Haven’t we got a big enough menagerie as it is?”) but the cat shelter had a kitten room.
My daughter tells it best but it went something like this: On the way to the cat shelter, I was muttering all the way under my breath in that passive-aggressive kind of way us mum’s do when we are feeling pressured to do something we don’t really want to do but apparently we agreed to do even though we can’t even remember agreeing to do any such thing (catch breath), but the minute we walked into the kitten room it changed to this: “Oh look at all the darling kittens, they are so cute, ooooooh, ahhhhhh,” and all that sugary kind of stuff. They had me at “meow”.
Long before we ever set eyes on Maisy, my daughter announced that she wanted a girl cat, a grey and white tabby and she would call her Maisy. Amazingly, (Amaising Maisy!) we found her that day in the kitten room. Her given name was ‘Aurora’. Because she had white ears, and we lived in California at the time, we were told that she mustn’t ever go outside as she would be very prone to skin cancer. Luckily we had a big house so she had plenty of room to run around inside with the kids and of course she had lovely Willow (see ‘Bring on the Cats’ post) to annoy incessantly (oops, I meant play with).
Maisy was a very naughty kitten. Once she leaped into our fish aquarium shorting out the electric light, zapping the neons in every direction (they really were ‘neon’ at that point) and sending the poor plecostomus fish flying. Having said that, I did used to find that darn plecostomus on the kitchen floor every morning for some strange reason so I suppose it wasn’t too much of a shock for it. How Maisy didn’t electrocute herself I will never know. That’s one of her lives used up.
But aside from being naughty, Maisy was also my friend. Yes, it’s true, silly or not. My marriage had been in bad shape for years but was in free fall by the time we got Maisy. We were clinging on to the remnants but it all went spectacularly pear-shaped by the Spring of 2003 and the children and I prepared to move back to the UK, seventeen years after we first moved back to California in 1986.
Maisy was essentially my daughter’s kitty, and still is, but for those last few months we had left in our home in California, every night when I went to bed she would curl up next to me on my right side, tucked in tight right up to my chest in a little nest. She was my little furry friend of comfort, purring sweetly away, when I otherwise felt so alone in the dead of night as quiet tears fell softly onto my pillow.
No way was I going to leave Maisy and Willow behind, thankfully the Pet Passport scheme had just been introduced in the US that year and I was able to bring them both back without them having to go into quarantine, which I would never have done. After we left, my ex had to keep the cats for three months before returning them to us and we missed them terribly. My daughter cried her eyes out but when we got our cats back she was so happy again. It was worth every penny – and it was not cheap I can assure you!
Maisy does go outside now since we live in England and she loves sunny days (different to that Californian sunshine so it is safe for her in short spells). She especially loves lying in a plant pot soaking up the sun. Her ears are like barometers. When they are red at the tips you know it is a hot day, when they are kind of bluish, you know it is cold. Strange, but true!
Which brings me to the missing sun. Hard to believe this, but when I lived in California I missed the rain so much. My kids all had wellies, rain coats and brollies, little kid brollies with ladybirds (ladybugs!) and Thomas the Tank Engine all over them. (As if I haven’t embarrassed them enough, but if not, this will do it – sorry kids if you’re reading this, but you know what I’m like.) When it did rain (yes, it does rain in California, sometimes!), oh, the excitement! The only problem was that by the time we pulled on our boots and got outside the rain would stop and the sun would be shining as brightly as it ever did. The kids did so love splashing about in the puddles though!
When we came home to visit, usually in mid June after school broke up for the summer (they finish earlier in the States) we would be thrilled when that soft, summer English rain would fall. Think we may have done quite a few rain dances actually, thinking about it.
How things change.
Rain? I had/have a very dear friend in California who was the only other person I knew who loved the rain as much as I did. We would both cheer and be so happy when others would be complaining about it being so wet and cold. ‘Yay, it’s raining at last!’ We would long for the stifling, hot summers to be over with and relish the beginning of ‘fall’ as the leaves would begin to turn that familiar burnished bronze and the days would start to come in a little shorter, a little cooler. Fall (Autumn!) still is our favourite time of year, giving us cause to celebrate even now.
When I watch these programmes about Brits emigrating to countries like Spain because they like the sun and the heat I always say to myself: “Be careful what you wish for.”
BUT…I am sorry to say, and I now admit it, I am fed up with all the rain we are getting here in England. Enough is enough. The snow I do love, but this incessant rain? I know it is supposed to be cold, it is February after all, but the rain? What happened to those glorious frosty mornings when you would see your breath as you walked along on the crunchy ground – but not too slippery – with the pale, winter sun streaming down giving off just enough warmth to take the bitter chill away? That’s a proper winter’s day in my book. Why don’t we get any of those days any more? Maybe it’s just like this in Somerset…
My friend (as above) posted beautiful pics on Facebook of a family day out taken a few days ago in Southern California. They all looked so happy, smiling, healthy. But wait a minute, what was that strange light shining all around them, that warmth positively exuding from the photographs, that bright, orange glow? I was confused. Then I realised. It has been so long that I had forgotten what it looked like…it was sunshine.
Missing sun, we love you, we are sorry, please come back and make us smile. We need you, if only for our Vitamin D top ups.
So, all this to prove two things: Maisy really is special and in several different ways (see below) and that we Brits like nothing better than to complain about our weather.
Have a lovely day, no matter what the weather.