Friday, May 25, 2007

The Cat and the Chick

Sunday May 20, 2007

High on one of the deep windowsills in a North London house early in April, two wood pigeons came to roost. They built a nest and in time laid an egg. In the room beyond, an elderly very sick cat lived with his owner. Both waited with eagerness the hatching of the chick.

One day another window in the same room was opened. Immediately the ancient cat leapt out, across and onto the other sill, scaring away the attendant pigeon and snatching up the contents of the nest. Feeling very proud of himself, (for he was a very very old cat) he brought his prize back to his owner. A little velvety chick, its life hardly begun lay, twitching and trembling, terribly maimed. In a matter of hours, it died.

Shocked and distressed, the cat owner took the chick and buried it on Boudica’s Mound on Hampstead Heath. She scattered petals above the little grave and placed a log on top to stop wild creatures from finding it.

It had been a pleasant sunny afternoon, the first in a few weeks when it hadn’t rained. Hampstead Heath was crowded with adults, children and dogs. We walked across the grass, stopping from time to time to examine old trees as we moved. There had been no defined purpose in our walk, other than to enjoy the heath and the sunshine. As we walked, my companion told me about her ancient cat’s hunting episode.

We decided to visit the place of the chick’s burial and soon found ourselves clambering over the fence into the mound’s enclosure. Finding a log to sit on, I lent back against a tree and breathed in the damp, tart greenness, mixed with decay and early summer freshness. We were enclosed by trees and park railings. Outside children laughed, dogs barked and the Sunday afternoon traffic hummed quietly in the distance.

My companion spoke of how she felt about the chick’s death. I suggested that we go on a journey to meet the chick and find out what we could do for it. I called the elements and cast the circle.

Blackbird came to me and led me to a whole in the earth. He sat by whilst I crawled in and wriggled my way through. I came to a little chamber and found the chick lying there, tender and vulnerable, a soft and velvety grey yellow and very much, with it’s round head, little body and stumpy beak, a baby bird.
I sat with it, just breathing and being, connecting quietly. I asked it what it needed right now. It said that it wanted its parents to know what had happened and that the cat concerned was an elderly sick cat perhaps making its last hunting pounce.

Wondering how I was going to do this I went back and told the waiting blackbird. He said he would take the message and sing it across the skies. It would be picked up by other birds that would pass it on. In no time, the chick’s parents would know what had happened to it.

I thanked Blackbird, who opened his wings and flew off into the evening sky. Sitting against the tree, I heard a blackbird’s song echoing across the summer air and knew that the message was being sent. Our work done, we closed the circle and left.


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