The ablutions would continue until I gave up entreating and moved off to unpack the groceries. As soon as this happened, Rosie ran to the door, green eyes glancing at me as she softly cried little meows. Sighing, I would find the torch, my gum boots and coat and the curtain was up for the opening scene of "Find the Kittens." We, Rosie and shivering me, walked together, first through the cottage garden then through the orchard garden, stopping every few minutes while Rosie pretended to go to the toilet. After ten minutes of this, my patience would grow thin and I would snap, "I'm going back, Rosie, its too cold and dark." Only then came the end of the first scene and Rosie dug her hole and relieved herself.
The second scene was the "Wild Goose Chase." Rosie led me on a merry romp through the paddocks, the bush, the blackberry bushes. This also had its own ritual procedure. She stopped outside likely places and started the cleaning process all over again, looking around as she licked her fur. "At last" I would say to myself, "We are getting close to the climax" and if the weather was warm I would sit and wait, more leisurely this time for I felt this was a necessary delay as Rosie was looking out for predators, but she fooled me so many times. Once, twice, three times it proved to be a false alarm. Sometimes, I would give up and say to Rosie, "I'm sorry but it is really too dark, it will have to wait until tomorrow" and walk back to the house without a backward glance. It was fatal for me to glance back. If I did, Rosie would come running towards me, stopping and glancing into a half acre patch of blackberries with the biggest thorns on any blackberry bush in Australia. When she was sure she had my attention, she would suddenly plunge into the thicket with me diving in after her. I usually lost sight of the white fur after only a few moments but that was enough time to have ugly, bloody scratches over all the parts of my skin that were exposed and probably a few jagged tears in my trousers.
At other times when I was following her more successfully, Rosie suddenly
disappeared as if by magic, into the middle of the blackberry bush.
Back through the vicious Triffet bushes I would plough and return to the
house and plead with Kees to come and help me. Sometimes this
was rewarding, other occasions he would refuse and tell me to look for
them in the daylight. I liked to find Rosie's family as soon
as possible to establish a strong relationship with humans so there was
no chance of them becoming as wild as the first kittens.
As she grew older, she quite often chose the warmth of the hay barn
as her birthing place, the hay barn that could be full of four hundred
and fifty bales of hale. Then there was a performance, I can
tell you! I had to pull myself in, through and above the bales,
trying desperately to find the tunnel that would end in a perfect round
hole that contained the kittens. I would follow Rosie as with
the blackberries bushes and she always disappeared as if by trickery down
through the myriad of hay bales.
"I know it was in here that she vanished" I would mutter to myself as I threw the twenty kilo bales of hay down ten feet, trying to dismantle the whole edifice. After heaving or pulling apart several of the cursed bales, there was hay through my hair, clinging to my clothes and my skin was a patchwork of little pink scratches. Pieces of hay always managed to work their way through every layer of clothing I wore until they reached the most intimate parts of my body. Stopping now and again from my heavy toil, I listened for the heavy purring of Rosie, and swore I would never do it again. Then suddenly the purr sounded louder, a whisper of a faint rustle of hay and my arm would find the pathway to Rosie and the kittens. Hurriedly, I would rush to Kees and ask him to demolish a few dozen bales of hay and good man that he is, he usually did! Rosie always chose the very middle of the complete mountain of hay, equal distance from roof, floor and every wall.
One more story, dear reader, unless you are bored stiff with my Rosie stories. In that case, please feel free to skip to the other chapters of the wrinkly gardeners creating Eden. There has been only one time that Rosie has let me down. Never mind the occasion when Kees and I had visited our son in Indonesia and Rosie was locked in the abandoned pickers' hut accidentally and not discovered until we got back three weeks later. She managed to keep herself alive for me that time presumably by dining on mice and rats. There was also the awful incident when she turned up with half her face eaten away. We, doubting humans, had given her up as dead as she had been absent for many weeks. We now strongly believe that she may have been attacked by a Tasmanian Devil but Rosie was a survivor and never upset me willingly.
The garden Rosie loved to lie
in to smell the flowers. If you would like to read more and see more take
the link at the end of the page
Rosie was due to have her kittens around the 23rd September which happens to be Francesca's birthday. I asked Suss and her friend [now husband] David, and my sister, Robin and husband Derry, to come and have a birthday dinner with us at Middleton. Rosie was very large with kittens and both Francesca and Robin showed interest in having one of the little ones. Robin put in an order for a dark tabby and Suss something similar. After dinner was over and before I had made the coffee, Robin, Kees, Derry, Suss and I were still sitting around the dining table in the corner of the sitting room and David, a quiet kind of chap, had left the table and was sitting on the sofa on which Rosie had been lying asleep for several hours. I paused for breath in the middle of the story I was telling and I vaguely heard David say in a hushed voice, "I think Rosie is having her kittens."
Robin, taking the opportunity to get a word in, began to tell her story and David repeated his sentence, this time in a slightly stronger voice.
"Yes. They are due about now," I answered, not really taking in the meaning of his words and began another long-winded anecdote.
"And here it comes," yelled David at the top of his voice.
I rushed for the baby bath that was always used as a cradle when the kittens were old enough to bring to the house. We got Rosie into the bath and on top of my old jumpers before the first little one appeared.
"That one is not mine" said Robin, all dewy eyed with the miracle of birth, "I don't like white cats."
"No, me neither" said Suss, busily capturing it all on my video camera.
For several hours we watched, marveling at the efficiency of both mother and kittens. The first was a pure white one as I have already written, the second was a pure white one. And the third and the fourth and the fifth and the sixth. We could not believe our eyes. We pushed and strained with Rosie on each birth, saying confidently, "This will be the tabby. This one is yours Suss, this one is yours, Robin," but no, this was to be the one and only time that Rosie was to produce a family of pure breeds. Six fluffy white kittens only the once all the same colour and the one and only time that Rosie let me down flat. She loved those six white, fluffy kittens with an intense passionate pride.
Rosie's pink chair is empty now.
To go to Chapter 1 of The Tale of
the Creation of Eden by the two Wrinkly Gardeners and walk the paths and
smell the flowers click and look at the beautiful