August 13, 2023

Dougal Goes Exploring

by Victoria Clayton in animals0 Comments

The caravan park is a few kilometres from the town centre. I decide to walk in for lunch. I did a lot of walking last year, the year after Mum died. I walk into Daylesford and buy a pie for lunch and a fruit tart from the bakery. I cross the road to the butcher and buy some chicken kebabs for dinner.

I head back to the Van, feed Dougal, make a cup of tea and sit outside. Dougal is again tied to the step. Suddenly I can’t stand it and remove his harness. He immediately slithers across the road and down behind the camp kitchen. Now I’m worried (perhaps this is the moment when Dougal freaks out and runs away) and I follow him between the holiday units, thankfully mostly unoccupied by now, and down onto stretches of grass with permanent caravans, also empty. Dougal slinks under a holiday unit, backing himself into dark, cobwebby corners.

I kneel down and peer into the darkness. Dougal’s bright green eyes slow blink at me from his black mask. His muzzle is white and except for a patch of black just under his chin, the soft fur of his throat flares into a semi-circular white bib. He looks like he’s wearing a dinner jacket with a bow tie and white gloves. He has a magnificent set of long white whiskers. He’s a rather handsome boy. I find a bench and sit down to wait for Dougal to emerge. After a while I return, somewhat hesitantly, to the Van. It’s good for Dougal to be out exploring. I’m sure he’ll come back. He seems a resourceful sort of cat.

I keep an eye out for him and every twenty minutes or so I wander casually down to the permanent van and peer underneath. I can’t see Dougal but I’m sure he’s there. Why would he run off?

Dusk is drawing in when he finally responds to my call, stretching his long furry body as he emerges from the dark and we walk back to the Van together. I give him a bowl of fish bits in orange jelly. He wolfs it down, washes his face and settles into a perfect circle on the passenger seat for a snooze. I think he knows where home is.

About the Author

Victoria Clayton

I write narrative nonfiction, essay and poetry on a range of subjects: archaeology, travel, history, thinking about the past, ancient figurines, what makes a well-lived life?

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