Updated September 6, 2016.
Dodger is a story cat. He's always telling me about his latest adventures.
On this day he invited me to shadow him on what I thought would be a normal "Dodger" afternoon . . .
. . . there's nothing typical about living life through the eyes of "Dodger"!
My booted heels hit the musty soil, digging in as I slam to a stop and do a double-take while making my routine rounds of our property.
In the hedgerow at forest’s edge, a new disturbance.
A swath of tamped grass spreads out from this point, arcing to the west and the north, from one swipe to several, sweeping away to a wisp and disappearing. Now this, a significant dent in the brambles . . . .
A wildlife trail!
I scrutinize the ground, following the telltale signs. A divot here, an impression there—my suspicions grow. No doubt about it, more than one has passed this way.
I come up short.
Good grief! You’d think I was Dodger, the story cat, patrolling my kingdom!
Shrugging, I pick my way through the wet field, careful not to taint the faint trail, which trips over a mole hole (see The Surprising Truth about Kitty Cats and Moles).
More sign—deer scat.
My lips press into a grim line. So much for wildlife stealth.
A young fawn’s fresh hoof print impressed in the mud leads me to look on ahead; another mole pie, the doe’s hoof print.
My brows knit with concern.
Fall hunting season is open. We've heard rifle shots in the far distance. This White-tailed deer bore a late season fawn and is using our forest for cover.
We've sighted them occasionally, but they continue to elude my camera, a kind of photo hunt.
It is open season not just for two-legged hunters. This time of year the four-legged kind, coyotes, are close (see Pictures of Coyotes and Dodger).
It’s autumn and they've returned to their seasonal hunting grounds, running through our property at night.
Their bone chilling howls and raucous yip-yip, yipping pierce the silence.
I sometimes lurch wide awake, their pounding paws and panting breath leaving unease in their wake as they race beneath my bedroom window. My lace curtains shudder at their passing.
It’s sometimes hard to go back to sleep after hearing something like that.
My anxiety is up and I worry.
Dodger is nocturnal by nature and prowls the outdoor gloom. How he’s evaded coyote capture for the last ten years, confounds me (still a secret).
He’s not as young as he used to be, twelve or thirteen years old, and has asthma so can’t breathe as well as in his younger days. Yet, he’s not deterred by these conditions, instead, yields to his wild side (not a Dodger secret).
Dodger buzzes me (Dodger secret #1).
Startled, I’m jerk back to the present.
Dodger leaps across the field in a mad frolic like Pepe’ Le Pew (Dodger secret #2). If they ever meet up they’d be best buddies for life.
Dodger circles back, seeking affection, which I lavish on him.
He strolls beside me as I scout for more signs of wildlife.
We pass beneath the ancient big leaf maple tree standing naked in the sharp air. The crisp ruffled leaves at its feet are tempting.
A rollicking romp over takes us!
We hit the ground, rolling in the leaves together.
I laugh with the delight of it.
Dodger purrs—loud (not a secret).
I bury him deep in the dry foliage; he burrows through only to dive into another pile, inviting me to follow.
I've never seen Dodger play (Dodger secret #3).
I didn't know he was capable of it!
Sure, he’s wrapped himself around catnip shrouded, stuffed mice, but those antics were a result of feline drunkenness (Dodger secret #4).
Perhaps Dodger learned something from our fun-loving Abby kitty (Dodger secret #5)?
I had no idea he loved autumn as much as I do (Dodger secret #6).
The afternoon wears on as we complete our rounds without further ado.
We part ways, me to go cook dinner and Dodger to go do whatever it is he does that time of day (definitely a Dodger secret).
Later, in the afterglow of sunset, we see Dodger skulk midst deepening shadows wearing, of all things . . . !
Unfortunately, I missed that photo opportunity. So, I recreated what I saw.
I love living here in the wilderness with Dodger, the story cat . . .
. . . the adventure never ends!