This neighborhood isn’t shining as brightly as it once did. Just two days ago, our plot was a friendlier, furrier place and it was due to a neighborhood cat. Although his “family” lives next door to us, he seemed a part of our family as well. This cat was like no cat I have known before. He would come running over from across or down the street to greet us, as we arrived home, meowing all the while and looking at us with his mysterious green eyes, jumping up on the planter – conveniently right at hand height – and give our hands a nudge with his head until we pet him.
All he wanted in return for his warm greeting – a pet and scratch on the head and a little time. We weren’t the only neighbors who were the object of his hospitality. Almost every morning, he would send the three children a couple of doors down off to school with a meow and a purr. More often than once, I saw him running up to people walking by and throw himself down on to the sidewalk in front of their path, hoping for a head pat in return and then walk with them for a bit until deciding it was time to turn back. Always on the lookout for any activity and chance for an ear scratch, he wandered into our side yard and right into a portrait photo session one afternoon. In the spirit of going with the flow, inclusiveness and candidness he became part of the shoot.
We had this welcome “gentlecat” in the neighborhood for a short five years. Unfortunately, his charm wasn’t effective on the two dogs or, quite possibly, coyotes he encountered in the middle of the night.
I am glad I have these photos and memories not only for remembering one of the finest cats I have known but also to remind us to be open to the unexpected when photographing and look for those moments to catch the informal and unscripted. This month, we will be turning our attention to the candid moments in our lives and how to capture them.
Good-bye Garfield, you are always in our hearts and we will miss you!