Amber is a small, gray cat who has been part of my life for six years now. I have only touched Amber once, when I caught her in the live trap and took her to Mountain View to have her spayed and receive her Rabies vaccination. I would guess she was about one then. I first met Amber and Ed in the fall of 2005 when I bought my home out on the Deschutes River outside of Rainier, Wa. She had been left at the home with a male cat whom I named Ed. Ed and Amber, named after the previous owners of the house. Ed disappeared that first year, but Amber, my little friend that I can never touch, is still here. She appears like clockwork every morning, a small gray shadow in the shrubbery beyond the hen house. I fill her small bowl with kibble, and keep the chickens in their corralled yard until she finishes eating. I see her seldom at any other time. After the snow comes, I will see her small cat prints leading from under the garden shed over to the chicken shed where she eats up on a shelf and out of the weather. Many times, I have thought she was gone, but she always comes back. I have considered bringing her in the house with the other cats, or perhaps giving her a permanent home in the Musher's Cabin, but she is wild, of the wild, and will know no cage. Amber bore two litters of kittens. The first tiny three babies brought such joy to me. She had them out under the shed. I carefully watched them grow, and saw that they needed to go to the vet. They had Ringworm, Herpes, and unfortunately FIP. So we had to euthanize those three sweet babies; Sprite, Squirt and Fuzzball. That event broke my heart so much, that even though I knew I needed to have Amber spayed, I waited too long and once again she bore three little kits. Two gray, like her, and one dark tabby. I named them Cougar, Lord Greystoke, and I forget the third. They grew and were wild little creatures, but they had the misfortune to come and play in an old wood stove in the dog yard, where the dogs found them. Poor little things, first one, and then Cougar. They gave the dogs ringworm on their noses and faces. Again, a sad ending. But, we still had Lord Greystoke or Tarzan as my vet, Rhonda, likes to call him. That silly little boy would follow me around the driveway, and throw himself at me,as if he was saying, "Take me home, Sue." So unlike his mother, who would hide at the sight of me or any human. I took him home. He too, had the ringworm, but he lived in the Musher's Cabin for a long time, until he was clean, and then he came into the house and joined the other Stargazer cats in the cat room, safe from all dogs and predators. I captured his Mama that one time. She was a hurricane of fear in the exam room, but she survived, and was spayed. That time she was carrying five kittens. I felt so blessed when both Lord G and Amber's bloodwork came back free from Feline Leukemia. Amber lives on. I may capture her again, as I think she could use a dental and a look over.
We have been having cold, clear weather here in Rainier, and the pellet stove has been burning non stop. I emptied out the ash tray, which still had some live coals burning. Normally, I take that out to the fire pit, but this time, I dumped it in the garden. The next morning, I watched Bullet sitting on the deck, staring intently over in that direction. Often that will mean, Amber is about, or the free range chickens. All I saw was a plume of smoke, wisping lazily into the air. Those live coals had kept smoldering overnight. In my mind, I saw a little gray cat, sitting on her haunches, holding her front paws up and warming herself by the fire. Such a happy thought for me. I hope for Amber, that she has a nice cozy hidey hole somewhere on my property, keeping her dry,warm, and safe, as I continue to feed her like clockwork in the morning for many years to come.