The Gardener, a.k.a. The Cat Who Loved Flowers

The Gardener  (The Cat Who Loved Flowers)  

oil on canvas, c. 26 X 20 inches. A painting recently reworked, changed and added to

This is Thomas Jefferson, II. Cat Who Loved Flowers, best, full, TJHe came into my life following a family life elsewhere which he loved and expected would go on forever, which ruptured in the death of his owner.

There appeared a notice with his photograph in the local post office. He was called Tom. I hesitated. First time in a long life of cats I was cat-less, which both shocked and unexpectedly freed me.

My last Brooklyn cat, all white, one green one blue eye, deaf and toothless Gorgeous, had died on July 4th, 2004, having attained 20 years.

I met Tom three years later on that post office bulletin. I thought his name derisive Tom Cat, and added a few letters and lineage.

Initially, Thomas Jefferson was the frantic enemy combatant, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about him either. He skulked off despite my heavily laden honey talk. He had a peculiar knack for opening doors and drawers. I would walk into a room to find every single drawer pulled open. I suspect he was looking in vain for his ‘cat door’. It was almost a year before he spoke, purred, or let me hold him.

He stayed out of reach, slept in mysterious places which generated my daily frantic searching, and he tried to get out and ‘back home’ (less than a mile away) every minute of the day. Cat Who Loved Flowers, best, detail, TJ, gallery

Thomas Jefferson’s previous mother loved him and he loved her.  Some ill-advised plotting from doctors and care-takers in her last months disallowed his presence at her bedside which would have done them both most good to have been encouraged.  He was locked away in the laundry room, treated begrudgingly.  I can barely imagine his state of mind at his separation from his best person.

These few years later I can’t picture my life without him. He came to me a fulsome 21 pounds, and it never inhibited his racing through gardens or climbing trees. Thomas Jefferson II is just one damn big cat.

Thomas and I have been through 5 new houses together, from suburbia to wild and wooly off-grid, dirt road. We are now close friends and confidantes whose every contact is filled with mutual purring.

I observe that he loves gardens, and flowers.  He will go out of his way to be in the vicinity of a whisker-brushing petal, to weave into and through clusters of lily reeds and calla lily, and settle for a nap in the shading bough of a geranium.

Thomas Jefferson II is master of the garden intruder. I try to discourage his interest in bringing in presents of little corpses, the garden assaulters, the bulb eaters, the home invaders.

He explores up the hill and out the meadow and has resigned himself to my disallowing his first foray at dawn, not til I’m sure the raccoons are bedded down for the day/night and the mountain lion who stalks the river’s edge is asleep. The crows and Jays and little thundering tiny birds I feed send up a protest to which he is oblivious. This is a cat who has done war with wild turkeys ten times his size and sound, and shown them a thing or two.

Thomas Jefferson maintains a sanguine attitude toward dogs. I always get the feeling he cannot imagine anyone choosing to be a dog and he will not be budged by their obviously inferior status. Except that one time in Big Sur when he climbed a tree like lightning to avoid a Whippet, a fast and slim number who clearly couldn’t understand why anyone would choose to be a cat.

The Golden Cat on Silk

Photo of The Golden Cat on Silk, Tommy J.II the first week he lived with me, so unhappy, seething, and beautiful.

So in contrast to his first days with me (Photo above), there is the painted portrait of Thomas Jefferson Sparhawk in repose, arm extended as he always does, making contact. We know each other, he welcomes me, he is the constant talker and purrer to his happy provider, the recipient of his largess.


8 thoughts on “The Gardener, a.k.a. The Cat Who Loved Flowers

  1. I finally arrive here at this post, there ain’t enough hours in day to see all the magnificent posts… great cat, great portraits, great story. Lucky Thomas J.II, and lucky you.
    I also have a love story with a cat, called Paladin. I call him my prince charming.
    And my alter-ego is a girl cat called Kahlí who has started the slippery sad road of kidney failure. There is a lot to learn watching an animal who is no longer all well. They teach me how to live and die these guys, cats and dogs I’ve loved who loved me back.

    • Paladin is a splendid name for a cat, lovely.

      I’m so sorry about Kahli. I’ve lost darlings in my life from that, so hard on everyone, only trying to comfort. Cats purr when they die, the most fierce and feral and the mostest friends send up a song to the universe, some kind of pathway between their loved ones on earth and the -traveling to- places. I’ve watched cats collect memories at such times too, looking with emotion-filled depth and intensity at the parts of the room in which they live. I think it’s road building too, marking pathways, a system for returning.

      Thank you so much for all your kind words about my work. I think you’re so interesting and bright, and I’m so glad to have found you and that yoiu came for a visit.

    • Funny that I wasn’t sure I was doing that for a long time. I remember feeling so annoyed at his lack of response when I was doing sommersaults to get him to respond. But it did work in the end, and we have a nice balance mutually between independence and adoration. The painting is meant as a kind of tribute to plant and cat, and his feeling for gardens I find totally charming. Thanks so much.

  2. I certainly wish I had your gift of words to bestow on this precious (in the very best sense of that word) introduction to Thomas Jefferson, II. It seems that you two belong together.

    • So very kind of you to say, and Thom.II says hello back, he’s a sweetie pie. I’m so glad you like this, Gunta.
      Thank you for your praise, and for your support too of the new Garden/Meadow book I’m working on. I intend to make you proud, it’s going to be a great little book.

    • So very kind of you to say, and Thom.II says hello back, he’s a sweetie pie. I’m so glad you like this, Gunta.
      Thank you for your praise, and for your support too of the new Garden/Meadow book I’m working on. I intend to make you proud, it’s going to be a great little book.

Your opinions are welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s