Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Lent for Extroverts 24: Climbing trees

I had to rescue a kitten from up a tree today. When I say 'had to', it was a difficult call: it was the kitten's first tree experience, though she's been practising on a tall fabric screen in the study, so I knew her balance was already amazing, but the first time she went up that she couldn't get down either. 

She had no hesitation in shimmying up the apple tree - nice day, a bit windy, but Spring is on the way and here it was, right before her, a vertical brown object just perfect for digging your claws into, up you go fast, lots of smaller sticky out bits you can hare along too, amazing feeling, no one can catch me...until you suddenly discover the ground is rather a long way off and going down feet first is not quite the same exhilarating experience....in fact it's really quite tricky. So after going back up higher and back down to the same spot fifteen feet off the ground several times, you just stop and look at your owner with those big hazel eyes and start mewing helplessly.

If I'd been in less of a hurry to go to work I would have stayed and watched a bit longer but I began to anthropomorphize rapidly, imagining my little black dot was stuck for ever and needed her mum to save her (classic mother-knee-jerk response). One wobbly stepladder, several fruitless attempts at calling her name and tapping the branch and a desperate grab later, and she was in my arms and swiftly into the kitchen with the door closed.

She probably spent the rest of the day thinking 'I don't know why that strange being got me down from a most enjoyable romp up the vertical brown spiky object; I was having such a great time...beats climbing up those green swishy things that hang near the windows any day...'

The response to small inexperienced beings appearing to get into trouble is so immediate; one wants simply to rescue them. It's just as well we never really see what goes on when we leave our tiny tots at child minders/nursery/school etc. We'd probably never be able to watch what they go through in order to grow up, without wanting to intervene every ten minutes. When I first left one of mine at nursery, they would lift him up at the window to wave goodbye, but I would have preferred not to see his little face crumpling behind the glass. Maybe a certain amount of ignorance is bliss.

And God lets all sorts of things happen to us in order that we should grow up. There would be little point in him rescuing us from this and that, even if think we need him to come and take it all away; we'd never learn to stand on our own two feet if that were the case. Perhaps we are more often the answer to our own prayers than we realise. 

I'm going to need a lot more stamina to allow the kittens up the tree and let them make their own mistakes, whatever that means. Growing up is too precious to keep intervening. But I'll probably be standing under there for a while yet; worrying.

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