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.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chuck Makes Eyes at French Cow

We flew to France to see the sights--the touristy sights--the Eiffel Tower, Giverny (where Monet painted some of his most famous Impressionistic works), the Luxembourg Gardens (where Chuck almost drowned in a fountain), the incomparable Mona Lisa and so it was time to leave the big city behind and venture into the French countryside.

Well, the truth of the matter was--Chuck wanted to see some cows.

French cows.

Now, are French cows different from American cows or English cows?

I didn’t have the answer for that. And neither did Chuck, but since my ever wiley, rascally cat always seems to have an agenda, I suspected the answer to Chuck’s obsession with French cows had more to do with the farm that we decided to visit than with the cows themselves.

You see, this particular farm, located in the Normandy region of France, near the seaport town of Deauville, where we were staying, was an apple farm which specialized in making a famous French apple brandy--Calvados--a peculiar French word pronounced with a heavy stress on the “ss” sound at the end. And there just happened to be some cows who lived on this farm.

Chuck said he wanted to see the cows, but did he really just want to sample the Calvadossss?

If you’re like me, you never heard of Calvados--never knew that this innocent looking usually gold-colored liquid in the glass, distilled from apple cider, which had the distinct aroma of apples, apricots, butterscotch, nuts, and even chocolate, is aged for a minimum of two years in oak casks and is considered one of France’s culinary specialties--along with cider and cheese--in the region. People mostly drink Calvados for an aperitif but there are some French traditions which demand that you drink Calvados--glass after glass--between each of many courses, during the entire meal.

The Normandy Region is the most visited area in France. Some say it’s because of the green countryside, some point to the seaside, and others point to the Calvados. Chuck, of course, swears it’s the cows.

When we arrived at the farm, I have to admit the area was beautiful. And sure enough, Chuck immediately seemed to be taken by this lovely French cow who was lounging in the field near the farmhouse where we were supposed to be going.

Of course, we made a detour.

The people we were with, hurried to the tasting table, where glasses were lined up, filled with Calvados, and I thought for sure that’s where Chuch would want to be, too. But he kept craning his neck out of my smart bag, gazing off in the direction of the cow.

No big deal, I thought. We could always saunter over to the Calvados later.

But, again, I had my anxieties, now knowing how a cat would get on with a cow. And what was the attraction?

“Now, Chuck, just don’t go running over there. Proceed with caution. You may like her. (I assumed it was a her.) But who knows how she feels about you. And besides,”I added, I can’t even tell you why, “she’s French. She speaks French.”

Chuck wiggled out of my backpack, hopped to the ground and, with nary a glance back, scooted to the fence and hung over the railing, and just stared.

I stopped mid-step and waited.

Was the kid waiting for some kind of signal from her?

Sure enough, they seemed to be making eye-contact.

Then she--the French cow--let out a kind of “moooooo.”

Was that French for “Come on over?”

In an instant, Chuck hopped over the bottom railing and ran over to her. He lifted his face up to hers. She leaned down and sniffed him. And then he did what I would have never expected from this rambunctious lad.

He laid down next to her, so close that the snout of his face touched her arm.

All I could think of was--sweet.

And then, now what?

I saw this segment on Sixty Minutes where a dog and an elephant formed a relationship that lasted for years. I couldn’t imagine leaving my Chuck behind if he were suddenly to declare that he had a “thing” for this cow.

It turned out that the fact that she spoke French wasn’t important. Theirs was the language of love. (OK, I admit it--I write romance novels.)

We finally did make it to the Calvados tasting table. And, yeah, Chuckie did have a sip. But he’s not into brandy all that much. More curious than anything about the gold liquid swirling around in the glass . . .

As we were leaving the farm, Chuckie, my rascal cat, did run back to the lovely cow for one last sniff and, well, I have no idea what went on between them.

And I guess I’ll never know because on the way back to Deauville and even in the hotel afterwards, Chuck wasn’t talking.

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