The other day I woke up to a scream of frustration. It was coming from the hallway, where we have an ongoing tournament between B. and T. in half a dozen games, from backgammon to scrabble to blokus.
One of the games is this wooden contraption with a bunch of pegs arranged in a square and white and dark beads you are supposed to place on them to make a line. It doesn’t say on the bottom what it’s called and no one in our house seems to know.
Mr. Highness the cat watches the games with interest, I thought, because they are on the same counter as his food. For him it’s kind of like “dinner and a show.”
But then one night noticed him making his way across each game, carefully, on his soft cat paws, all the way until he got to the bead game. There, he laid down on an elevated vantage point, the position that placed his tail right next to the beads. Every few seconds, he’d lift the end of his tail, sending a bead or two off their pegs. Not sign of mischief crossed his whiskered face.
When he was done, he’d jump off the counter and go on about his day to admire his stomach or clean behind his ears.
The first time I saw this video, our boat was rocking so hard it felt like we were on a giant rollercoaster in the middle of the Southern Ocean, a day away from Antarctica. We were trying to lay very still in our bed, not exactly easy with the ocean going nuts. On every up, we’d slide a little towards the pillows. On every down, we’d slide away from the pillows. The trick was not to lift up the head too much. Sitting up, for example, created an instant communication crisis between the brain and the stomach and resulted in a dash for the bathroom.
The only thing we could do in this “just so position” was watch TV, which had BBC Frozen Planet series. We learned all about the secret lives of whales and seals and ocean birds, and it was hard to imagine that theoretically we were right in the epicenter of all this wildlife action. All we knew was the ocean going nuts.
But then the next morning, things calmed down. We discovered Dramamine and even held breakfast down. Myriads of birds began to trail our ship and we trained our cameras on the white patterns on their chocolate wings.
And then right before teatime, the whales came. At first all we saw was a spot in the sea turning from steely gray to green. Then their black, leathery backs came up. Then they blew their plumes, and we tasted the brininess of the ocean. Of course, they’d been here all along. We just had to get up to see.