I recently returned, very briefly, to Devils Lake, North Dakota, for the first time since I moved back to Colorado last May. The ultra short trip’s purpose was to retrieve my remaining “stuff” from my parent’s basement. I was initially dreading the trip, at least the driving part of it, mainly because it was going to be lots of driving in a short amount of time and I was worried about the weather, especially after South Dakota got hit with a major snowstorm in early October. Driving from Colorado to North Dakota, which I have done many times, requires traversing large, isolated swatches of country where you wouldn’t want to find yourself alone in adverse weather. In spite of my trepidation as the trip approached I was excited about seeing my family.
So armed with audiobooks and road snacks, I loaded up the rental truck and I was just about ready to depart I took a look at kit kat Jenni and said to her “you’re coming with me.” Jenni is an excellent car kitty and traveler. And this was by design. After having a cat who hated riding in cars, I decided Jenni would be different. When Jenni was just three months old I took her in the car with me on a regular basis when running errands. Jenni is about 16 and I can’t remember when we took our first long road trip together, but we’ve been on many over the years. The routine is always the same. I put her in a pet carrier to transport her to the car. After we’ve been on the road awhile, I open up the carrier. She usually crawls half way out and looks and around as if to say “here we go again.” Then she snoops around a little and settles in somewhere and sleeps most of the trip, in this case in the back seat of the truck.
As always Jenni proved to be good company en route to North Dakota, if nothing else at least another living creature in the vehicle. She did meow occasionally if I sang to a song on the radio or honked the horn when I crossed a state line. Also in the car via audiotape were Stephanie Plum and her cohorts Lula, Ranger and Morelli (is Stephanie ever going to decide between those two?!) After a quick visit with the family in DL my Dad Fast Eddie and I loaded up the truck with me worrying that everything wouldn’t fit, but it did. I have to admit it felt great to see my “stuff” again! The next morning I was ready to roll about 9 am or so, however there was no sign of Jenni. Fast Eddie and I looked and looked and looked and looked. At home, usually shaking a bag of treats or yelling din din (the word for wet food) brings her scurrying into the kitchen. However, this time wherever she was she wasn’t budging. A good hour went by. My mom suggested catnip, so Fast Eddie and I went to Leevers grocery store with instructions to my Mom to nab Jenni if she appeared. Although Leevers didn’t have cat nip I bought some wet food that we put on paper plates throughout the house. Still no Jenni. I started getting worried. Jenni is no young spring chicken. What if she was sick somewhere? I felt a pit forming in stomach and a sense of dread.
It made me remember another time when Jenni went into hiding. I had just moved to Wisconsin one January and all I had in my apartment was a bed given to me by my brother who lives there. I got up one morning to get ready for work and after awhile I noticed I hadn’t seen Jenni. I looked everywhere calling her name. It was bitterly cold and I thought maybe she had somehow gotten outside. I walked around the neighborhood calling her name. Hours went by and I thought she surely was frozen solid somewhere in the new neighborhood. At my rope’s end at what to do, I was standing in the bedroom when Jenni hopped out from inside the bed. She sat there in a patch of sunlight looking sleepy and yawned. You could have knocked me over with a feather! It turns out that Jenni had found a tear in the mattress and crawled into the large wood box on which the mattress sat.
I felt heartened by this memory. Maybe Jenni was just freaked out by all the commotion and hiding but good somewhere. Since the pungent aroma of cat food wasn’t doing the trick, Fast Eddie and I headed to Walmart in search of catnip. I have to add that my Dad, never a big fan of cats, was a little bemused by all of this drama saying “who would think a cat would hold up a trip.”I also wasn’t sure that him helping me look for Jenni was the best idea, because I don’t think Jenni liked Fast Eddie much and was a little scared of him. Still I appreciated the help and the levity helped me not be so freaked out as at this point a couple of hours had gone by and still no Jenni. I put plates of catnip throughout the house and tried to not to think of the worst. We waited a little while, and then my Dad went to the top of the stairs and said “here she is”. At first I thought he was kidding because he does like to kid. However, I bolted up the stairs and sure enough there she was
licking up the catnip.
I could not have been more relieved, and it brought home how darn attached I am to that darn cat. Even though I have never called myself Mom in reference to my pets, I have to admit that once we got in the truck and were ready to drive away I looked over at Jenni and said “don’t ever do that again, you had your Momma worried.”