News from the farm:
The two of us have been out here almost 10 years now, and our lives and our farm have undergone many a change during that time. We’ve grown older, the seasons seem to pass more quickly each year. The old farmhouse was rebuilt, and gardens have moved or been reconstructed. Various animal friends have come and gone, and Rick’s mother has come to live with us. Life’s eternal cycle, punctuated by changes. Yet it is the animals who wander through our lives, I find most intriguing. Friends for a short time, remembered for a lifetime. Wise old souls and teachers, comforters in hard times, playful little elvish creatures who help us see the lighter side of life. They teach us how to be better people. Their lives, and all the memories they leave behind after they depart, are all woven into the fabric of our own, becoming part of the legends and history of this place we call home.
Old Klaatu came to us some years ago in the cold, grey time of November’s wind, rain and fallen leaves. A wild, ghostly white feline, he looked more like a visitor from another world, sitting under the apple tree. His eyes were quite slanted, one blue and one green, evoking images of the Roswell Alien. Thin spikes of fur at the ends of his ears gave the appearance of sensors one sees on the tips of airplane wings. Our little ET sat under the apple tree long enough to make sure I noticed his presence, then quickly returned to his private domain under the old house where he had been living, unknown to us in the warm comfort above.
Klaatu quickly taught us he preferred cream to milk, and fresh gophers over the home-made cat food I labored over for our inside cat clan. An empty cream bowl would prompt a silent visit to the sliding glass door, where he would sit and look in, but disappear as soon as he saw the obedient human carrying his bowl emerging. His dining station was an old wine barrel up on the porch, which suited his preferences for security. Stopping periodically, cream dribbling down his chin, Klaatu would carefully scan his surroundings, then return to sipping cream as if he was enjoying a fine old wine.
Although Klaatu was wild and never let us near him, he kept us company in the garden, staying well out of reach. We fancied he also liked us, not just the cream. At night, he would sometimes sit under the window, yowling a rather long diatribe about something amiss in his world, or perhaps just catching us up on the local news. He often went off on long business trips, sometimes returning in less than optimal condition, and I worried and fretted every time he left until his return. And then worried plenty more. The lifespan of a rural feral cat tends not very long, and the veterinarian had estimated he was probably already 4 or 5 years old at the time of his arrival.
Old Klaatu disappeared again in late winter, for the last time. He finally returned one day, in very bad condition, but still mobile and wiley enough to evade capture. One night in early May, we heard him outside the window, a long, soulful discourse in the wee hours. I went out with the flashlight, but couldn’t find him, and he remained silent the rest of the night. In the morning, Rick spotted him, very weak but still alert. I was finally able to catch him, and promptly took him down to our veterinarian. Age, hard living and travel had taken their toll, however, and our little ET was found to be beyond repair this time. He was peacefully euthanized while still under sedation from the examination, and brought home for burial.
Old Klaatu – I can still see him in mind’s eye, out there in the tall grass, hunting. It was his eyes that really struck me, in the still portraits of life and death. He was an old soul, who could look right through you. When I buried him under the tree, I looked into those eyes again. The life force now gone, they had become dark orbs, deep pools of blackness. It was hard to tell they had previously held color, and light. That wild spirit had fled one last time, leaving nothing behind for anyone to follow.
Music news (schedule below):
We are finally getting back to some light gigging again, around elder-care and work on the farm, and slowly returning to making progress on the rest of life’s fronts, including a new website. Watch for changes!
In your area, wherever you may be, please do all you can to help keep local music alive. Go out and see someone you don’t know, host a house concert, download songs or buy CDs. Or even just stop for a minute to hear someone at a Farmers’ Market. Live, local musicians provide a wealth of talent most people will never hear about in this age of iPods, Internet and TV.
Bookings and home-grown produce:
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
Sweet Home, OR