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, June 23, 2013

Chuck Sets His Sights on a Ruined Medieval Castle

I will admit that at times it’s difficult to understand the mind of my rascal cat, Chuck.  While we were traveling around France, in the Upper Normandy region, near the Seine River, one day I happened to mention the ruined medieval castle of Chateau Gailiard because I found the history of the place fascinating and thought that Chuck might like to sniff around a place like that . . .  

After all, Chuck knows a bit of history. He’d heard of Richard the Lionhearted, who was both the King of England and the Duke of Normandy, and how he wanted to build this castle in France to protect his interests even though he promised he wouldn’t. Nevertheless, despite the expense, it took him only two years to construct this castle which sported quite an advanced design from a fortification perspective.

Chateau Gailiard had what was known as a concentric fortification, which consisted of three enclosures and a moat. It also boasted a system of defense--very modern--where the floors could open so rocks and stones and other materials could be dropped on attackers.  Just in case there were attackers, which Richard the Lionhearted suspected there would be.  The battlements were made of stone, a vast improvement over the wood used in most castles, and this meant they were practically fireproof. 

Well, this design would have worked, but unfortunately, even these improvements couldn’t prevent Chateau Gailiard from being captured in 1204 by King Phillip II, the French King, after a lengthy siege. Not for the obvious reasons but more for humanitarian ones. The locals nearby begged to be let into the castle for protection against the French soldiers.  Their admittance was the downfall of the castle. They literally ate up all the stores.

The castle suffered much in later years and eventually was deliberately destroyed as a precaution. Nevertheless, what is left of it is a marvel.  

I walked around and thought about life over one thousand years ago. It would have been cold and drafty inside. Chuck trotted alongside me, and I guessed he was busy picking up all the smells, probably able to get a much better idea of the history than me.

I was taken with the beauty of the old stone against the gray sky and wasn’t really paying much attention to him, which explains how one minute he was there, and the next, he was gone.

Up to his old tricks.

Not on purpose, of course. Chuck follows his nose. But this castle ruin is an extensive place; and it wouldn’t be easy to find the kid. 

He is a bit of a meanderer, and he couldn’t have gone too far ahead, unless he was spooked by someone or something. Then he can run, and he could be on the other side of the historic site.

I quickened my pace and followed what seemed to be the logical way around--looking down, not up, missing what I should have been noticing, on the look-out for . . . and there he was.

At some point he’d realized that he’d lost me so he’d stopped in a  frozen position and waited for me to find him. 

I scooped him up in my arms and held him close. “It’s alright. No wandering off, okay?”

Within the next minute or two, he was his old self again, sniffing the ground and the walls. 


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