After the Great Propane Freezeout of Christmas 2022, climate challenges are given serious consideration at House Kirkland. Leaks, flooding and toppled trees have proven common during past weather events, and the Bomb Cyclones of 2023 have had the crew scrambling to build makeshift flood defenses. Earlier this week, Murray, an old ginger with privileges, decided the Storm of the Century was worth a closer look, and with the crew distracted building a litter levee around one of the garages, bolted through an open door to experience it live.
Upon hearing that Murray had gone AWOL, Mama Su gave me a look that said, “Really? Today?”, grabbed a flashlight and set off in pursuit. Spotting him by the tool shed, she hand-paused my explanation about how he got out and focused her attention on the old-timer. “Come here, baby…” An undisciplined guy might have found that pitch compelling, but Murray’s self-preservation instinct kicked in, and he responded by pivoting 180 degrees, shooting toward the back of the property and scrambling halfway up a 60-foot redwood. “No…no…Murray…NO!”
Murray appeared content to mock us from a branch 30’ up, but Su insisted he was in grave danger and directed me to grab a ladder, climb up and haul him down “like you do for everyone on Facebook”. I observed that would only drive Murray further up the tree and a better plan would be to place food in a trap at the base and wait, but Su upped the stakes. “I just saw a hawk circling the tree.” There was probably a better response than “Listen to you with the drama…” but I went with it, and Su shook her head, “He’s going to die, and you don’t care.”
As Su considered where to dispose of my body, I opined that cats climb down the way they go up, but Su had enough of my flat earth thinking. She pointed out that given the curvature of his claws Murray would have to descend backwards, offered a vivid pantomime of a cat with claws extended shimmying down a tree butt first and concluded that at some point Murray would lose his grip and plummet to Earth like the opening credits of Mad Men. “And if he lands on the other side of the fence, the coyotes will get him.” The drama.
In my day job, if you trust logic and patience you can make a great living, but at Kirkland, that sort of callous behavior is not encouraged. So it was an hour later when Murray descended unharmed and loped off into the dark, there was no celebration of my foresight, just a staid resumption of the search and rescue effort. With the rain coming down harder, I suggested that Murray was watching from a dry hiding spot, and we should just go inside, but Su wasn’t giving up and repeated her assessment, “He’s going to die, and you don’t care.”
With or without logic, if Su’s hunting for you, she will find you, and the following morning, after freeing a possum from a trap meant for Murray, Su fired off a group text, “It’s him!!! Hurry!!! Tool shed! Bring towels!” After searching most of the night, Su conceded (quietly) that the old-timer(s) might be smarter than first thought and tore apart the tool shed until she spotted a furry yellow tail sticking out from under a piece of equipment. There was a brief stand-off and scuffle, but within minutes Murray was back inside and safe. It was an anti-climactic end to an anxious affair and had the insights been reversed, I’d still be being hazed in the group text. Me, I’ll take the satisfaction that I know my old-timers…Murray.