The autumn sun was still warm, but at sunset, the October night brushed against my face with the whisper of winter. It was an icy touch that made me grateful for the soft warmth of the gray hoodie.
The little fuzz ball shivered in the corner of the boot box that sat near the step of the mobile home. I reached in and picked up the shivering kiitten. It was so small that it barely filled my hand. My daughter's best friend had found the kitten, but her mother wouldn't allow the kitten inside their house.
The kitten wouldn't live long left out in the cold. I agreed to bring her to our home and see if we could keep her alive. I felt confident because of our experience with Blooper.
I had to begin from scratch with her, like I had with Blooper. Unlike Blooper, who we had found at the end of a warm August, the first order of business with this foundling was to warm her up. We started with a hot water bottle, covered with a soft towel. When the water inside cooled, we switched it with a heating pad.
The next step was to help her get something to eat. We dipped the corner of a clean rag into some warmed condensed milk and rubbed the rag against the kitten's tiny lips. It took some patience, but after several dips, she started licking the rag and then, finally began sucking on it. She was on the road to recovery.
Our kids fought over whose cat she was and what to name her. My son wanted to name her Toots and my daughter was set on Baby. Since she had come from my daughter's friend, Baby was her name.
When my daughter's friend heard that she was well, she wanted Baby back. After having worked so hard to keep her alive, worming her, litter-box training her, and then paying to have her vaccinated to keep her healthy, I could not let her go back to a home where she wasn't completely welcome. It was maybe wrong, but Baby had stolen my heart and to put her back in harms way would break it.
At the end of that school year, we moved from Morristown, back to Faribault. One of my kids won a gold fish at the county fair. My boss's wife talked me into taking it out of the goldlfish bowl and putting it into a small aquarium.
One day after work, I came home to see Baby sitting on the table, looking into the Aquarium. I didn't think much of it at first, but when she didin't come and give me her rub-against-my-legs and "where is my treat" greeting, I thought the situation was worth investigating.
As I walked into the living room, I could see that the carpet was soaked. My heart sank. I was oblivious to the mess because I was sure the fish was a goner.
Baby looked up at me, said, "Meow," and jumped down from the table. It wasn't a guilty exit. It was more like her watch was over and she was ready for her afternoon treat.
"Meow to you, too!" I snapped back at her. "It looks like you've been having a good time."
However, the fish was fine. Although the incident had happened on Baby's watch, it wasn't her fault. The aquarium had sprung a slow leak in one of its corner seams and as the water seeped out, the fish had dug a depression into the aquarium gravel. The hole had retained enough water to keep it alive.
Thanks to Baby's diligence in keeping watch over the aquarium, the fish survived. It took awhile to clean up the water and relocate the goldfish back to its original bowl but then I rewarded Baby for her watchfulness with an extra-special treat.