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, November 4, 2012

Chuck Almost Slips into Salt Marshes in Trapani

Our first sight of the windmills and the marshlands--perfect together

        
         

        I’m not sure why Chuck, the rascal cat, wanted to visit Trapani on the west coast of Sicily.  Did he want to see the beautiful windmills that were set up only a few kilometers from the center of the town, or was he more interested in the salt marshes themselves? 
Windmills in Sicily?
Salt marshes?
Yes.  You heard me correctly.  
Sicily has been in the business of making salt for centuries.  The flat marshlands of the Trapani coast, combined with the long dry Sicilian summers were perfect for the evaporation process that was initially used by first the Greeks, and then the Romans centuries ago.  

Visitor sign

Well, who can ever tell what a cat is thinking? 
As for me, I am a salt addict so the chance to go to the place where salt is collected from water was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss.
That morning we hired a car and drove to Trapani, eager to see what the guide books described as some of the oldest salt marshes in Europe.  

The marshlands where the water is pumped in, later to be pumped out

And we weren’t disappointed.   
The windmills that were used centuries ago to drain the water from the salt (which, as you can imagine, is a very slow process) were sandstone structures with bright red roofs.  When the wind blew, and it seemed to be perpetually windy near the water, the blades twirled around.  And it was the sight of those twirling blades against the blue of the sky and water that caught your eye.  

It is here where the salt is collected from the water

Many think of Sicily as being hot and dry, and yet here, as far as the eye can see, surrounded by water, you are reminded that Sicily is an island, after all.   And Trapani became a popular seaport town when sea salt became popular with cooks.  It was exported as far away as Norway and Russia. 

The windmill

      As I read the guide book aloud to Chuck, I watched the expression on his face.  Was he impressed?  Did he even care that he was looking at a piece of ancient history preserved?
Not at all.
Instead he seemed more interested in prancing along the stony shore, sniffing everything in sight.  The various plants.  The signs posted for visitors.  Once or twice he stopped on the shore and gazed longingly across the channel at one windmill in particular, and I could tell he wanted to go inside a windmill and explore. 

A shot of the windmill that Chuck had his eye on

He was appreciating the sun on his fur and the wind through this whiskers.  He trotted along, and I began to get a sickening feeling in my stomach.  A day like this--so bright and sunny--usually threw Chuckie over the edge, so to speak.              He is a naturally rambunctious cat, anyway, and his excitement reached a fever pitch. 
The steady trot became a run.  
He was having too good a time.
We were the only vistors in sight so I hated to reign him in, but what if the kid got too close to the edge, lost his balance and . . .
What if he spotted something in the water and scampered over to it a bit too fast and slipped and . . .
Suddenly, I was beset with all the worst case scenarios. 
A salt marsh filled with water didn’t necessarily mean that Chuckie would float (ie, as if he were in the Dead Sea) if he tumbled into the water.
No.  
And I wasn’t even sure if Chuck knew how to swim.
That final thought pushed me to take action.

Here you can see the wonderful red tops of the windmills

I opened my smart bag and extracted my ultimate weapon - a bag of Temptations.
All I had to to--in truth--was rattle the bag.
Even though Chuck was a tiny orange and white speck in the distance, he heard the rattle and knew instantly what it was, what it meant.  
SNACK TIME.
The kid scampered back.  He was safely in my arms in seconds.  
He had his snack.  All was well.  No one slipped into the marshlands that day.  Phew! 

         To read more about Chuck and his adventures, log onto www.katelutter.com

         My paranormal romance, Wild Point Island, is now available in ebook and mass market paperback from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.  

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