May 18, 2011

peace in the animal kingdom

When I was, oh, probably not a lot older than Evie, someone gave me a copy of the book A Visit to William Blake's Inn. I loved it. I love it still. In fact, I'd show you a picture of my much cherished (and battered) copy, except it's in the box of must-go-to-New-York kids books. Along with everything Mo Williams ever wrote, because, hello? Pigeons! But back to Mr. Blake.
William Blake's Inn is the first book I remember falling into. My parents must have read it to me a thousand times. A million times. The art was dreamy but realistic and the poems spoke to me. Which is kind of amazing because I've never been much of a poetry person. If you will recall, the first poem I learned by heart was a favorite of my dad's.
When I was a little older, maybe eight or nine, my dad took me to an auction and I was thrilled to see that, amongst the china and silver, there was an old set of William Blake's Poems. I desperately wanted them. When I had a chance to look at them, however, I found that the only poem I recognized was The Tiger. My dad explained that the book I loved was mostly poems in the style of William Blake, rather than by William Blake. It was a little devastating. The set of books ended up being too expensive and so we went home without them, and I went back to my beloved fake Blake.

The poems in the book are beautiful, captivating, but I think it was the illustrations that really won me over as a kid. Lions and rabbits and cats and cows, and of course the Tiger. Because you can't have William Blake without a tiger. They walk together and curl up together to sleep, peaceful and happy. Growing up I happened to have a dog and cat like that. They snuggled in a heap in front of the wood stove and followed each other around. I thought that's how pets were supposed to be.
Since then, I have not had pets like that. They love me and I love them but they do not love each other. At all. Actually, I sometimes think that our dog, Nigella, does love our cat, Ella, she just loves her so much that she wants to eat the cats tail. Or maybe the cat just looks like an interesting snack. Ella is clearly not a fan of the dog, in the "I will never be in the same room as that thing" kind of way.

Until recently. I'm not sure if it's me spending a lot of time in bed or the boxes everywhere that have them on their best behavior, but my animals are being really, oddly, strangely nice to each other. Yesterday the dog was chowing down on her food and the cat walked over and sat down a few inches away. (This is very unusual, see the I won't be in the same room comment above) Weirder still, the dog stopped eating and the cat started eating. The dogs food. That's strange, right?

Then there is the bed thing. Nigella has recently started sleeping in our bed. Will isn't a big fan of this but since she hops up after we are asleep, it's kind of hard to stop it. Plus, I like it. She keeps my toes warm. But these days I've been waking up every morning to this.
So I guess, at least temporarily, there is peace in the animal kingdom of our house. And given the fact that everything else around here is in chaos, I'll take every little bit of peace I can.

Are your pets friends or foes?