Thursday, February 4, 2010

The place where Micha danced

The place where Micha danced

There was nothing special about it – just a small unused parking lot with a rusted fence and an old shed in the corner. Every night that I passed it after Micha disappeared, I said to my self that one day it will be gone - I should photograph it. Just like I had photographed her knowing that one day she would be gone.

And so one day I did and it was not long after that the sign went up “Condominiums – Plaza Ste. Croix”. At least I preserved Micha’s place in this small way.

Let me tell you of another cat named Micha that I once knew. He was a black and white young, languid, almost liquid cat – who draped himself across your arms, hanging like he had no bones. He was an amazing cat who cried and pawed at the pill bottle for the same medication that his “roommates” desperately tried to avoid and who lay in front of the broom as I tried to sweep the room. Micha lived in cramped quarters with 44 other cats and when I would go to the house where he was being kept to try to help out, he always brought me joy. The woman who kept these cats was overwhelmed by life and by problems that left her with no control. Micha came to a bad end in that house and my life was diminished when he left my world.

It was in his honour that this lovely stray was named Micha. She was not at all like him. She was Siamese and would not allow anyone to approach her let alone hold her. She had been on the street far too long to trust. How I wanted her to trust me. With a live trap she was caught and sterilized and kept in a large cage to see whether she could adjust to a life indoors. It was early winter and yet although she was out of the cold she would not eat and simply crouched with her head hung low. Feeling that I was doing the wrong thing, I decided to return her to the outdoors but in an area that I hoped would be sheltered and safe for her. As I walked with her in the carrier to the spot, I could feel her perk up and become alert. She became interested in life again.

How lovely it was that night. Soft flakes of snow were slowly falling and they glittered in the street light. The snow on the ground was like diamonds sparkling everywhere. Sounds were muffled and the street was still and it seemed that only Micha and I were in this new and beautiful world. She bounded from the carrier when it was opened with what seemed like joy.

But I returned home with dreadful worries. Yet I saw Micha every night for many months after that. Beautiful Micha who I would sometimes find sitting with an air of majesty in the center of a picnic table on a college campus washing her paws, or patiently waiting out a rain storm under the protective shield of a maple tree - or standing on her tiptoes to peer above a particularly high snow bank to see if that really was me coming with her nightly food. She became a regular watcher who ran in circles when she saw me coming or ran down the sidewalk to greet me and then lead me to the feeding place. Often she was accompanied by a tabby friend (I named her Firefly because she lit up my night) and I would often see them side by side. Sometimes each of them would have burrs in their tails from brushing against the same burdock bush.

And one magical night she followed me to the side of my apartment building and let me stroke her for many, many wonderful minutes. Every night I worried about her out in the cold or crossing the busy side street and even though I would see her the next night and I would sigh in relief, it was short lived as I knew the next day would again bring danger to her. She was living on borrowed time. I knew that.

One very cold and blustery, snowy night I went out to feed her wondering how she could stand the misery of her existence and how she must be huddled somewhere in the dark, cold and wet. That was the night I found her dancing with the leaves. Atop the snow, there were many fallen leaves lying about dry and crisp. And in a corner of the small parking lot, by the fence and the shed, the wind was pulling the curled, crisp leaves up and about, spinning them in little cyclones - and there was Micha leaping and pouncing and batting at them. There was Micha dancing.

Many more nights passed and then one night Micha didn’t come running down the sidewalk and she never again stood on tiptoes peering over the snow bank, and she never again felt the stroke of my hand or heard the delight in my voice as I caught sight of her and called her name.

And she never again danced with the leaves.
Micha and Firefly

Postscript 2010-02-04: Firefly is currently living with me and has been off the streets since October 2001


  1. What an amazing story, Doris! Whatever happened in the end, it seems that you helped her to really enjoy her days. And now Firefly is living the good life partly because of her and you. In 1962, just before we moved away, you had more or less taken in a cat that you called Mixie (I think). Can you remember what happened to her? I don't recall seeing her when I visited the next summer, but I may have.

  2. Oh my dear heart! What an amazing story. Give Firefly a hug from me, and one is coming for you too!

  3. Wiping TEARS HERE Girl!!!! How Sad! Wonderful story though!!
    Happy weekend!

  4. What a lovely heartfelt story! My family have nearly always had cats, and at times have fed wild ones as well, so I can empathise with how you felt, indeed feel, towards these wonderful creatures.
    Have a good weekend! Flighty xx

  5. Such kindred spirits here! Micha was special and so was Mixie, Anvilcloud. Mixie had a difficult life but had many happy times too with my family until illness took her from us.
    Love transcends time and species barriers and lives always within us, doesn't it? :-)