Light Notes

Unwanted tomcat becomes a savior

It’s summertime. The Bing cherries are ripening on the tree, and I’ve got my eye on them.

So do the birds.

Just this morning, I caught a robin checking out the red darlings. From what I’ve seen in the past, any flock of feathered friends can strip a tree in less time than it takes me to open a can of cherry pie filling.

It’s not that I mind sharing, but I would like to reap SOME fruit that doesn’t have a hole in it or is lying bruised on the ground.

This situation isn’t unusual in our backyard. We’ve had the same thing happen with our peaches — except once.

Back a few years ago, a big old tomcat found his way to our neighborhood. I suspect he was a stray someone had dumped off on our country road. The kitty was hungry, sort of beat-up looking, and afraid of people.

But he was willing to risk coming into our garage to feed with our cat.

“That cat is going to be a problem,” my husband, Bill, said. “You know what tomcats do to our bushes and anything else they take a fancy to.”

Yes, I knew the crusty old cat wasn’t really wanted at our house, but maybe he wouldn’t be one of those nasty cats always spraying everything. At least I prayed that he wouldn’t be. But not all prayers are answered how we’d like.

Well, everyday he’d sneak in for a meal or two then head off to some hiding place on our acreage. Spring turned into summer, and the peaches began to ripen on our tree. Where that cat was disappearing to was a mystery.

I’d glance at our peach tree bowing from the weight of almost golden produce and think, “Any day now, we’re going to have fresh peaches with ice cream.”

Well, I’d no sooner turned my back than those darn birds came swooping in and poked their beaks into those not-quite-ripe peaches, leaving holes the size of craters.

All those gorgeous peaches ruined — except for the ones that hung from the low leafy branches. And that’s when I saw our tomcat hidden in the tall grass, his golden-haired head blending with the yellow fruit.

His presence — one that we hadn’t really wanted or appreciated — had kept the birds at bay. We’d have peaches and ice cream after all.

It’s curious how things that seem like a problem or an inconvenience can turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Maybe that’s why the Bible tells us to be thankful for everything.

Even a stray cat.