Who says that the cloistered life lacks excitement? Today, for example, we lost Telemann, our cat. He vanished into thin air, like a puff of gray smoke. I heard him miaowing from what sounded like the bottom of a well, but there are no wells in our itsy bitsy cottage.
There are, however, a number of closets, into which he rushes whenever we open the door so he can hang out among the boots and sharpen his claws on the suitcases (to ensure we won’t go on a trip?). So I checked the closets first, but he wasn’t there. I looked under the bed, even though I knew there was no reason for him to be sending out distress calls when he’s perfectly able to navigate the bed skirts on his own.
Telemann! I called (he often, but not always, responds to his name). Then, from far away, like the cry of a lost soul: miaowww, followed by an eerie silence. Maybe he was in the cabinet under the sink, with the trash can and the dishwasher soap. Or in the cabinet with the cast iron pans. Or in the big drawer with the Tupperware. Feeling slightly crazed, I checked the oven. Nothing.
Then a single, piteous, I’m-dying-come-save-me, miaow!
I flew out of the kitchen and rechecked all the closets. I ran into the mudroom and looked behind the standing freezer, and then, absurdly, into his litter box. I opened the door into the garage, where he has never been. Telemann, I called, keeping my voice as light as if I were singing a Mozart aria (n.b., it’s almost impossible to keep your voice light when you’re stressed).
By now there were two of us cannoning around the house, calling, slamming doors, exclaiming “where IS that darn cat!”, re-checking closets. Even—horrors—looking outside, where he has never set foot. But there’s always a first time….
I was checking the top of six-foot bookshelf off which Telemann routinely knocks the box of Christmas ornaments, and suddenly I was overwhelmed by nostalgia for my long-dead German Shepherd, Wolfie. Without ever having been trained, he used to find my errant hens and hold them down with his great jaws until I arrived to set them free, annoyed but unharmed. If Wolfie had been with us, I would have said “Find Telemann!” and in less than a minute he would have pinpointed the cat’s location with Teutonic precision. But with Wolfie in his grave, all I had by way of dog help was Bisou, who followed me from room to room wagging her tail, looking up at me with her liquid carnelian-colored eyes, wondering what had come over me.
Our washer and dryer are tightly wedged in a nook in the laundry room. They are four feet high, and there is a shelf about eighteen inches above them where, these days, I keep a gross of toilet paper (let me know if you run out, and I’ll mail you some). I once lost a sock in the space between the appliances and the wall behind them, and the only way I could reach it was to clamber on top of the dryer, squeeze under the shelf, and retrieve the sock with one of those grabber gizmos.
There was total silence in the laundry room, and I didn’t particularly want to repeat the clambering maneuver, and besides, what in the world would Telemann be doing down there? But there was nowhere else to look, so I clambered and squeezed and peered into the darkness and sure enough, there was Telemann among the dust bunnies, looking betrayed.
With some mighty tugs, my spouse pulled the dryer away from the wall, and Telemann oozed out like a wisp of fog.
And how are things at your house?