Scamper, 2001-2016


In 2001 we moved from a small duplex to a house with a garage and yard. We had one cat and one dog, and soon added a pair of orphaned kittens.


One of the kittens (on the left in the above photos) was sweet and gentle, and the name “Sabrina” seemed just right for her. The other kitten was fierce and playful and somewhat neurotic, and she defied naming. Nothing quite fit. She became “Scamper” on her medical chart, because I had to put something on her chart, but at home she changed names as often as she changed moods. She was The Scamperer. Thing 2. Her Neediness. The Bad Cat. The Wee Baby Kitty. Supercat.


She was The Bird Watcher. (When it was too cold for open doors and windows, birds on television were better than no birds at all.)


Cats May 15

Cat March 26

In her middle years, she grew overweight and lazy. None of her kitten names fit anymore, if they ever had. She was still Scamper when she went to the vet, but at home she was Herself.

Scamper 2014

Cats Aug 24

In many ways, she was the essence of what I love about cats — neuroses and all.

Scamper 2008

In her later years she liked blankets and patches of sunlight and, every so often, an afternoon nap on the couch with me.

Scamper Jan 2011

Health problems came with age. There were medicines and special diets, all of which helped for a time, but as 2015 progressed her condition declined steadily. She lost weight faster than medicine, food, and love could counter. The calendar turned and she lost more weight. Then, in early February, she stopped eating altogether.

So I made one last trip to the vet with our cat of many names. I stayed with her through the euthanasia process, which was gentle and peaceful, and drove home to a house that is achingly incomplete. There’s an empty spot near her favorite upstairs window, one that can never be filled.

Cat Nov 9

Note: Most of the photos in this post were taken by my husband.

The Rabbits Lose Their Nest

This is the last image I have of the rabbits in their nest. At the time I took this picture, near nightfall on September 7th, there were three babies visible in the nest and a fourth hiding under the woodpile. Later that night, an unknown predator destroyed the nest and took two of the young rabbits.

What was it? Is there a way to name the hunger that crossed our fence in the dark? And what would I gain, in giving it a name?

The next day was one of uncertainty. How many had survived? One of them stayed visible all day, exposed and exhausted. I feared that it’s inexperience would lure another predator into the yard.

As it turns out, two of the baby rabbits survived. I have no way to know whether or not the rabbits grieve for their loss. All I know is that they go on. They sleep and graze, grow and explore. They live.

I’m sad about the lost rabbits, but less so than I might have been in the past. It’s a matter of perspective, and today’s date eclipses the yard’s small tragedies. Eleven years ago, I spent a week in front of my television, paralyzed with horror.

I felt, then, as if I would never again know joy. As if all of my future hours should be spent remembering and mourning. Except the world continued to turn and I couldn’t sustain my grief. Paper and ashes stopped falling from the sky. Piles of rubble disappeared. Names and stories quit flooding my dreams at night and swirled into the slow current of memory. Today I am able to sit quietly beside those memories and study a calmer reflection, one less distorted by ripples of fear. And tomorrow, when the Earth’s rotation delivers another new day, I’ll stand in the weedy expanse of my yard and take another picture of rabbits. Because all of my future hours should not be spent remembering and mourning. They should be spent living.