Before kids, there were cats. I grew up with them. And there was one cat in particular who was with me for a very long time. Her name was Susie and she came to me when she was only a few weeks old back in 1991 and was a constant in my life until her death in 2004.
It's easy to forget, being the family man that I am, that I have actually spent the majority of my adult life as a non-parent. The kids are a relatively recent development. I did in fact live over sixteen years as an adult after leaving home at the age of 21 until Ollie arrived when I was 37.
I always wanted to have kids, and was relatively late starting a family, but bearing in mind the haphazard nature of some of my relationships during those years maybe it was just as well. Girlfriends came and went during those years, but the one constant throughout was my beloved Susie.
Now I know that it sounds odd to parents, who say you cannot compare a pet to a child, but during all those years when I knew no different, Susie really was like an adopted daughter to me. I would not go so far to say as having her was good training for becoming a parent later on, but it does teach some sort of responsibility. I did after all have to feed her, take her to the vets and clean up after her. Quite honestly I could not even pretend this involved even 5% of the amount of work that goes into looking after a child, but even so, my "child" she was for 13 years.
During some of my darker moments such as relationship break-ups and bad times at work, it was always comforting to know she would be waiting for me when I got home. It was quite heartbreaking when I lost her, truly the end of an era.
So what brings Susie to mind? Well. for the past few weeks I have been catching glimpses of a cat hanging around who is the absolute spitting image of Susie. Today she decided to make herself known to us and came up to us in the garden and then decided to wander into the house. We have the back doors open at this time of year so it's easy to come and go. And what a lovely friendly little thing she has turned out to be. Claire wanted to feed her, but I discouraged this, however I did see her sneaking her the odd titbit of ham. But I don't mind really, it's lovely to have her hanging around.
She looks virtually identical to Susie, and I can't help myself but refer to her as such. It is a bit like having my old Susie back. Living in rented accommodation we are not meant to have pets, so this is ideal really. We know she lives in one of the other houses nearby, so we have a little visitor to come and see us without any of the responsibility or cost and without breaking any rules.
The garden is absolutely magnificent this year, huge lush growth and massive flowers. Clearly the year or so of very wet weather we've "enjoyed" since last Spring has had a hugely beneficial effect. It is like a jungle out there, but a very pretty one. We've cultivated the garden full of wild and different types of plants and it looks magnificent. The greens have never looked so green. It's the sort of garden you need to watch a video of in Blu Ray to fully appreciate the greenery. And "Susie" loves it, she's hiding out right now in the bush, pretending to sleep no doubt but ready to pounce on any possible prey. This would also be very handy for us, because living as we do on the Bure we have had more than our fair share of problems with river rats. I doubt whether any of them will be coming in while she is around.
She and Jamie have also taken to each other. I'm not sure I will be able to say the same for Ollie, he has a real phobia of cats and dogs. If Susie is still here when he gets home a fairly predictable bout of screaming and crying will probably send her scurrying off home, not to return until Monday if she knows what is good for her!
We've also got two families of ducks living in the Bure and Jamie loves to go and look at the Mummy ducks and their babies in the river on the way home from nursery. It seems we are really getting back to nature right now. We've also been dining al fresco a fair bit - the barbecue has been very busy this week. Summer is well and truly with us.
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