Just as I predicted, the neighbor's cute little gray kitten that used to spend all day pouncing on things in our backyard has grown up into a slender gray siren, and is currently attracting every male cat within a mile radius. She rolls around in the piles of oak leaves that C has raked up, and purrs invitingly at her suitors, who lurk in all the bushes. So far there are three principal tomcats vying for her attention, and I'm accepting bets on which one will become the baby-daddy. Bachelor #1 is white with dark gray spots, and may or may not belong to the guy who lives two doors down from us, who comes out at dusk and calls "Kittykittykitty." Bachelor #2 is a short-haired gray guy, who seems tidy enough to be someone's housecat. Bachelor #3, who C is betting on, has long gray Persian fur, and has been a long-time stray in this area. A year or two ago he had a hurt paw and was so bedraggled he looked like a dustmop, C tells me, but he's looking fine now, and since he doesn't belong to anyone, he hangs around here the most. All three of them constantly chase the gray lady-cat around and when she gets exhausted from the attention, she hides in the rafters of our garage. Meanwhile, C takes shots at all the males with his bb gun, just to scare them away but, nevertheless, our yard has turned into a cat soap opera.
The cat's don't bother me so much, though I'm torn between wishing the neighbor would get his cat fixed and anticipation at the idea of having adorable gray kittens being born, probably, in the crawl space under our house. Kittens are so cute!!! I'm mostly just hoping that the freshly turned dirt in my garden beds doesn't become a giant litter box for all these gentlemen cat-callers. I've been weeding and turning the earth, so it will be ready for spring planting. I've also been investing in spring: planting daffodil and tulip bulbs in little clumps around the backyard. It was a warm sunny morning today, and felt so good to be outside working the land. We still haven't had our first frost, and there are still some hardy mosquitoes out there; you can be sure they found me. C did battle with the fence on one side of the property, and replaced some old wooden posts with metal ones. The sound of his cursing, as he extricated wire and wood from the tangles of ivy, kudzu and barbed ilex, drifted on the breeze and mixed with chickadee tweets, wind-chimes, Latin music, and the sounds of kids playing somewhere in the distance. But when he's done with a project like that, the frustration instantly melts away, replaced with satisfaction and pride. We have a stronger fence now, and in the spring-time we'll have lovely flowers. And kittens.