A lifetime ago, before I went into police work, I taught Science to a generation of children born before The Discovery Channel was common viewing. Always in a hunt to enrich the education of my students, I ended up learning as much as the kids did. And from time to time, it still pops up. For instance, this week I was vividly reminded of a group of people living along the Amazon river. They have houses on stilts with big porches because the river floods every year and the porches allow them to move their pigs, goats, dogs, and chickens onto a raised area, where everyone lives until the water finally retreats.
After weeks of almost daily rains here, I have become a member of that tribe. Ours is a life of mud, where you must wear rubber boots just to walk to the back yard, and the dogs must be hosed off before being allowed inside the house. Three of the five outside dog runs have flooded, leaving only two raised concrete kennels. This means two dogs to a kennel when I leave the house, and no one wants to bunk with Aja because she's a loud-mouth who poops in the kennel and then trots through it. Although the kennels are covered, a driving rain coming in at an angle leaves the dog who doesn't fit into the dog house very wet. Ask Lily.
Except for short free-play time in the yard, the goats are living in the barn. It's dry, but dusty, and not an ideal place for baby lungs to grow. They think they want into the yard, until they get there and discover that it is as wet as it was the last time they demanded to come out but then stood in a dry spot beside the gate calling me in hopes that like Moses, I could part the Red Sea and give them dry passage.
Despite all the rain the cats appear to have adapted well. Being feral, unlike the goats, the cats don't expect me to solve their problems. They deal with it and so instead of complaining, they become masters of ingenuity. They live in and around the barn and have developed a series of catwalks on barn roofs, trees, and the dried top edges of a deep ruts in the pasture left when I drive the mule out to feed cattle. I really admire them. Unlike the cattle, who suffer in silence, or the goats, who complain about every wretched moment, the cats silently adapt.
So you can imagine who badly I felt when it happened. What happened? Well, I had one of those moments you wish you could take back, where you do something without thinking and as soon as it happens, your mind extrapolates the result at warp speed, and you instantly regret your actions, but are powerless to stop the chain of events once set in motion.
It happened that I was checking on goats and noticed that someone had pooped in the water bucket, as goats do. Little soggy cocoa puffs were floating at the top, like a twisted Halloween carnival version of bobbing for apples. The goats were busy eating so I opened the stall door, snatched up the bucket, and slammed the door again before someone decided the world outside the stall was better than the feed in the trough. Without another thought, I slung the contents of the bucket out the barn door like a slop jar. My bucket had reached its apex in flight, the point of no return, when I glanced out the doorway, and saw one of the barn cats sitting on a dry patch of earth with her back to the impending doom.
Despite my whispered pleas of "No! No! Nononononononooooooooo!" I could not recall the arc of water as it dropped in slow motion onto the unsuspecting feline.
Despite my profuse apologies the poor cat had no clue where the assault originated. She scanned the roof top and the heavens with an accusing eye. Hmmmmmm. . . I'm not proud of what I did next.
I just went with it. She thought God had smacked her with more water from the heavens, and so I just went with it. Since I was not a suspect, or even a Person Of Interest, I disappeared into the barn and let God take the blame. He has broad shoulders. On the other hand, if a large bucket of water comes out of nowhere and lands on my head, I'll be sure to listen for God giggling.