116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
I have witnesses who will attest to what I’m going to tell you: my tortoiseshell cat Luna is, perhaps, one of the smartest, most talented cats on earth. What? You were expecting something more substantive? Sorry, this is about as good as it gets in my household, because where I live we revel in small stories, never claiming any true wisdom.
Luna has a favorite soft toy, one I’ve resewn a number of times. Anyway, twice a day she brings her toy to me and drops it at my feet. I then toss the toy into another room, sometimes over a couch or a chair and she leaps over the obstacle, (even if someone is sitting there) retrieves the toy, and brings it back, and drops it at my feet. Repeat routine. Over and over again.
Neighbors a few miles north of me enjoy a different kind of cat, a bobcat. I’ve been hearing of sightings out here for many years and now my friends have photographic evidence. Gorgeous animals.
The corn harvest is in full sway and the highways are busy with big trucks carrying many tons of the grain. Years ago I was doing some substitute teaching in area high schools and realized that many of the drivers of the big trucks are students who have attained their Commercial Driver’s License. A part of me is spooked by this, yet another part is impressed as, when I was their age I was either carrying out groceries or roofing barns. Every evening I hear corn driers in the distance, corn delivered to the driers by drivers young enough to be my grandchildren.
Canada geese have been heading south for a couple of weeks now, honking in greeting as they glide overhead. Other birds are here as well. A number of times the past couple of weeks I’ve seen a wild turkey hen with five poults moving slowly across the field in front of my house. All, including the hen, are quite small and won’t be on anyone’s Thanksgiving table this year.
On a hot day a week or so ago I encountered an old plastic radio in my basement, one I’d forgotten about. It was a radio that sat on a shelf in my mother’s kitchen more than 50 years ago, a radio that echoed Andy Williams, Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66, and maybe the Statler Brothers singing something about flowers on a wall, back when life felt a bit more like heaven. Mom gave it to me when I went off to college. It was my only source of music for four years, and it still works splendidly. Mom has been gone more than 30 years now and the radio causes the choke of grief to bubble up in my throat every time I turn it on.
Also last week, as I drove the two-lane along a high ridge toward a nearby town, I began to see silver and blue helium balloons attached to plants in the ditch. This was a brilliant way to announce that a party was just ahead. Life is good as long as we know there is a party somewhere down the road. I’ll shut up now. It’s deep dusk, Luna is waiting to play again, and the stars to the west look bright tonight.
Kurt Ullrich lives in rural Jackson County. His book “The Iowa State Fair” is available from the University of Iowa Press.