This morning my cat, Mme Pouqui, is impatient for her walk. She has taken to the body harness and leash with alacrity and would spend the whole day wandering with me if she could. Her body language as she sits by the front door, peering out through the screen at the intriguing world beyond, speaks eloquently of her desire to experience the sights, scents and textures of the gardens. She turns and miaows reproachfully from her nest in a carry bag when I assure her that we’ll go out just as soon as I have breakfast, take a shower and perform all the necessary morning rituals she finds so perplexing.
Question: Why do cats sit in carry bags?
Answer: Because they can.
To say that our walks are slow and circuitous is a comical understatement, for it is Pouqui who takes me for a walk rather than the reverse. She is a flaneuse par excellence; she loves to promenade and is not above traversing the same ground several times if the mood moves her. There are leaves to sniff and inspect minutely, grass to nibble with all the fastidiousness of a Parisienne toying with a truffe au chocolat, patches of soil and tanbark just begging to be rolled upon, sunshine and shade to be enjoyed in equal measure, a process which involves prolonged bouts of reclining and the odd nap.
Occasionally I have found myself growing impatient as I wait for her to resume our path – any path, for that matter! But today there was a difference…. today I decide to enjoy the journey; after all, there is no destination excepting my desire to return home and busy myself with yet another chore.
I tuck one of my favourite small books, “The Spirit of the Upanishads”, under my arm and off we trot. Well, Pouqui trots, I just saunter in her wake, red leash twined around my wrist. When she stops, I stop and read a quote, savouring the wisdom of the ancients before observing our surroundings. I have the good fortune to live among acres of beautiful gardens, maintained by a team of gardeners in our little community, so our walk becomes a meditation on beauty, wisdom and the joy of the present moment.
I observe her closely, her total immersion in her surroundings: alertness as a lizard scurries through the leaf-litter, her evident enjoyment of the cool earth beneath a fern. She stops in the middle of the path, sprawling on the warm surface and rolling ecstatically. She lies there, dozing for a few minutes and I continue reading and watching.
In this way we explore our little world together (with catnaps in between for at least one of the parties) and I am filled with gratitude – for the beauty of my surroundings and the wisdom of my little companion who truly understands how to live in the moment.