Well, it’s Friday and that’s Ark Day and as promised, I have BIG CATS for you. Here is our big cat, adjusting to his seriously restricted territory. In the first picture Cloudy is minding his own
bottom business out in the courtyard. In the second, he is watching the helicopter come in for a landing at Children’s Memorial Hospital. We live so close that I did truly think the helicopter was going to land on our rooftop that first night. Surprisingly, it’s a noise that is now just part of our day. (click all pictures to enlarge)
McCloud was used to total indoor/outdoor freedom. We lived on a dirt road with a half acre yard. He never really wandered out of the yard; maybe once in a while he went over to sniff what was cooking on the neighbor’s grill. Mostly, he napped on top of the hot tub cover. But he really enjoyed his freedom, especially at night when he would just perch out there and watch the lightening bugs flicker. Here, Sophie and McCloud are confined to daytime in the court yard, under supervision. I am very fearful that, should they get loose, they could be in trouble with traffic. Also, we’re so new in the game that they might wander off. McCloud could be seduced by food (it’s self-evident, yes?) and hopefully someone would read his new tag and call us. Sophie, on the other hand, is fine during the day but at night I see the wheels turning: "If I could just get up the tree and over that wall, I could be in Gary, Indiana in 10 days…" And she’s so aloof and cautious that she would not easily seek shelter with strangers.
I’ve always believed that’s it’s in a cat’s nature to go in and out, in and out. My grandmother said, "Cats are always on the wrong side of the door." I’ve kept them up to date on shots, healthy and well-loved and let them make up their own minds- and all of my cats have chosen to spend some time each day outside. But up until now I’ve never lived in such an urban environment. My brother keeps his cats in, except when he walks them in a cat stroller. What can I say? Everyone in the family has some quirk or other. Do you keep your cats in or let them roam?
This handsome big cat lives footsteps from my door, along with The Tin Man and The Scarecrow. He was sculpted by local artist, John Kearney and funded by the Friends of Oz Park. Kearney also did the Tin Man sculpture pictured here a couple days ago; that one is crafted entirely out of chrome car bumpers, he’s nine feet tall and weighs nearly a ton. Cowardly Lion is done in bronze. Dorothy and Toto aren’t here yet; the women I met last Saturday who work The Emerald City Garden told me that they will probably be in place by Spring. They are cast but not yet completed.
The best part of this sculpture is his expression; it conveys so well his ambivalence between fearlessness and timidity. Of the lot of them, I favor Cowardly because lately I feel a lot like he did. I always thought I was a brave and curious woman but this city life is daunting. It feels like a lot of commotion, loud noise, bright lights and intimidating traffic. I’m trying to push myself a little further each day and my explorations are beginning to be more adventure and less anxiety provoking. (That’s my bike parked there on the Yellow Brick Road.)
I don’t have to go too far to see this big cat. The Lincoln Park Zoo is a short five blocks away. He, too, looks like a fish out of water in this city. A Snow Leopard really doesn’t belong in a cage. I took this picture a short few days after arriving. I had started out in high spirits and soon found myself slumped and immobilized on the bench in front of his enclosure. I have to say that all the while I was chewing a zoo cheeseburger and considering his plight, he seemed pretty relaxed- most of the time he spent rolled over on his back napping. It reminded me of the time I was wondering about an aging pet’s diminished quality of life and my vet friend said, "Well, Velcro is not sitting around remembering when he used to race across the lawn after a chipmunk. He’s just settled into the here and now." Is that true?