Faith, our cat, has been missing for ten days now.
Heart-in-mouth, we have checked the lanes and verges, in ever increasing circles. We have distributed pictures, to neighbours and more distant dwellings; we have posted on facebook groups, informed the microchip database, hijacked local email lists.
This weekend alone I have covered a lot of miles, a toddler often strapped to my back, rattling a packet of cat biscuits in my hand, as I call gently for our kitty. I have explored familiar routes, and new; followed the river along the valley floor, climbed high up the hillside, through woods and gorseland, in daylight, dusk and darkness.
I have disturbed a pair of grey herons on the river, who took flight with long slow wingbeats, soaring up to the tall treetops, followed a few moments later by an eruption of ducks. I have clambered over stiles and gates (oh so carefully with a small boy upon my back), strode through herds of cattle, walked lanes where grass and wildflowers spring through the tarmac. I have learned that one such lane near us is known as ‘Watery Lane’. Rather apt since it is prone to flooding, and rendered impassable through much of the autumn and winter.
In the dark I have been startled by a vivid green glow on a roadside embankment: closer inspection with a torch eventually found a small green caterpillar, a segment of which was responsible for the remarkable bioluminescence that resembled an LED.
Despite my best efforts, there lie hectares of countryside around us that I have yet to cover: I seem to have only highlighted just how much terrain there is around us (and how diverse and rich in wildlife this is), making the task of finding a small nervous black cat rather daunting indeed.
A couple of potential sightings over the weekend, from vigilant local cyclists and walkers, have been welcome, though not yet yielded our cat. Come home soon, Faith: we miss you.