This is a photographic compilation of some of my travels, not all with Callie, but with Michael for sure. He has been quite supportive all these years. He bought me a Polaroid camera when my daughter Lara was born 32 years ago, and I haven’t stopped since!
There is something very special about the dawn unfolding in the desert. The lighting is so diffused and the shadows on the mountains distinct and mysterious. Everything looks flat and the horizon so close you could reach out and touch it. The mountains almost look like they are cut out of cardboard and pasted dramatically on the backdrop of a theater stage. The San Ysidro Mountains blush a brilliant golden rose, and the whole sky lights up a pale and soft feathery blue. Mornings are for hummingbirds and Callie loves climbing up the olive trees to follow her dream of chasing and catching anything on the wing. I am always careful to protect all the little creatures from Callie’s grasp but she doesn’t seem to hold it against me. Her enthusiasm hasn’t waned after a year and a half of futile chases and I believe she just loves to climb for the shear joy of it. I usually get up before the light of dawn and have a cup of strong coffee and Callie waits in her red basket for the mountains to light up in the distance. When the light is sufficient for keeping Callie safe from becoming part of the food chain, I fling open the door and out she races. There are three olive trees in the backyard and her favorite one is close to the house and the hummingbird feeder. It has lovely branches that reach out parallel to the ground and she can climb to the top and still have a good foot hold. There are many hummingbirds at this hour flitting from branch to branch and Callie does her best to try to catch one. It is so quiet in the desert in the early morning hours except for the squeak and grind and funny little noises of tiny hummingbirds singing their hearts out. The flash on the neck of the dominant rubythroated male that tries to hoard the feeder is outmanueuvored by four, very smart, less brilliantly colored females. They work in cooperation and use their intelligence rather than their size to drink the nectar. I always put two feeders up about twenty feet apart so it is difficult for one bird to hog the feeder alone. He may be the biggest bird in the yard, but he is worn out by the sheer number of smart but smaller females. Callie is in heaven chasing multiple birds and the hummingbirds all have a chance at feeding because of the distraction. It almost seems like everyone is having a good time of it. May Callie continue to chase her dream without actually catching it, and may I have the pleasure of many mornings to come, watching the drama unfold.
Now, you may very well ask that question, how DO you teach a cat to ride a bike? The answer to that question, is that you can’t. And to put it more bluntly, how can you teach a cat to go on a bike ride with you? Dogs, you can teach, but cats need to be asked if they are willing to try something new. In the case of Callie, I first introduced her to a backpack and taught her how to enjoy walking around with me in the safety of the house. She wasn’t exactly thrilled with this new activity but she was game to the experience. Callie and I have a wonderful relationship and for the most part she trusts me and accepts that I am the boss. I placed a rolled up towel at the base of the backpack so that she could stand up in the pack and put her front paws on my shoulders. I also have a harness that I clip onto the backpack just in case we have a disagreement on whether she wants to stick around or not. Once she got use to walking around the house, I was able to graduate her to the bike. She took to the bike like a duck to water and from the very beginning, I knew I had her trust and the rest was easy. She loves riding around the De Anza Golf Course and checking out the birds and sometimes, bighorn sheep, coyotes and butterflies. It is especially thrilling to sneak up on the common grackle, which will explode in a flurry of feathers and noisy shrieks when we get too close. Riding over a puddle makes her flinch, but the only thing that truly frightens her are loud noises from trucks. If a truck roars up behind us, she dives down into the backpack like a turtle pulling its head back into the shell. As soon as the truck has passed, she pops her head back up and leans into the wind. It is a wonderful way to take in the sites and Callie likes this almost as much as riding in the car. When she has had enough, she licks my ear, and homeward bound we go.