Who is Chuck and why does he like to travel?

I was born to be a writer and when I wrote my novel Wild Point Island, Chuck, my orange and white recently rescued feral tabby, got it in his head that he wanted to travel to the island and see the place for himself. Well, of course, Wild Point Island, can only be seen by revenants (you'll have to read the book to find out who they are) and Chuck is no revenant so instead, I concocted a plan to take Chuck with me when I travel around the world, which I do frequently. Not an easy task. First, I have to deflate the poor kid of all air, stuff him in my carry-on bag, remember to bring my portable pump, and when I arrive, I pump him back up. Ouch. But he's used to it by now and given the choice to either stay home in his comfy cat bed or get deflated, he pulls out his passport, ready to travel, every time.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chuck Likes Flamingos and the Color Pink



It may be hard to believe that a cat likes movies, but it’s true. No, not hom e movies, but we’re talking Hollywood big, blockbuster-type movies. Action movies. And if there is an animal or two or three or four, well, the more--the better. Which may explain why the Chuckster would pick Out of Africa as one of his favorite sit you down and eat a snack while you are watching type movie.

He loved to see those lions on the screen--his ancestors, of course.

But, if the truth be told, nothing beat those flamingos--all gathered in a group on the shore--so much pink . . .

On safari in Kenya, when Bob and I had the chance to visit some of the places where Out of Africa was filmed, Chuck couldn’t wait until we got to Lake Nakuru National Park, which is a sanctuary, a very famous one, for the flamingo. Not that Chuck knew anything about that. All he knew was that he was going to see thousands of pink birds, and he liked the color pink.

Who knew?

When I write thousands, I’m not exaggerating. There are times when Lake Nakuru hosts close to a million flamingos.

We arrived by safari vehicle in the park and immediately noticed two large rhinoceros who were sunbathing not one hundred feet away from the flamingos, who were spread out along the shoreline, very busy, it seemed to me, in search of lunch.

What attracts the flamingos to Lake Nakuru is the shallow water and the abundance of algae that grows along the shore. Once again, it is all about food.

But having two rhino so close was not good. Well, I suppose, it could have been worse considering that the park has offered 25 black rhino and 70 white rhino a home there.

But still.

Chuckie didn’t seem to notice. He was staring, quite mesmerized, at the flamingo. All that pink.

And you guessed it.

Chuck does not like to stay put when there is action to be had.

Before I could issue my standard warning, he jumped out of my backpack and was already scampering toward the shoreline--due to pass one of the rhino, who looked to be snoozing.

But who knows when a rhino is really snoozing?

I certainly didn’t.

Close to panicking, I was determined to maintain my cool.

Then I spotted a straggly creature slinking along the shoreline, heading in the same direction as my Chuckie.

“OMG. That looks just like a . . .”

Before I had a chance to say the word, Bob, my ever loyal and observant husband, had noticed the danger. “Those darned hyena are everywhere.”

“Do hyenas eat flamingos?” I asked.

He frowned because there was an even greater problem.

“Or cats,” I added.

“Maybe the Chuckster will blend in.”

It was a terrible joke. Chuckie is beige and white, not pink. He had fur, not feathers. And from the hyenas’s point of view, a much tastier snack.

And it was windy. By now the flamingos had spotted that hyena and were squawking and flapping their wings, and desperately clearing a path away from him.

All the clatter woke the snoozing rhino who began to lumber toward the hyena OR was he moving toward my cat?

The hyena spotted the rhino and made a quick detour to the other side of the shore, but Chuckie didn’t seem to notice the looming rhino.

Entranced by all that pink, Chuck moved closer and closer to the flamingo as the rhino moved closer and closer to Chuck.

Something had to give.

I was just about to run forward when in one burst of panic, the flamingo--all in unison--took off--squawking and flapping their wings.

Startled, Chuck stepped back.

But more importantly, the rhino lost interest. Casually, or so it seemed to me, he retraced his steps back to the same spot and took up sunbathing again.

Chuck was safe.

I heaved a sigh of relief.

Those darned flamingos.

That darn cat.

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