Nature's Way

The first time Scotty noticed the raggedy little gray animal at the edge of the clearing, he wasn’t altogether sure what he was looking at.

As the Scotsman went about his daily work in the cookhouse of a lumber camp high in the western mountains nearly a century ago, he kept an eye out for the scrappy creature. After all, winter was coming hard and fast.

He soon saw the scraggly creature again, creeping low to the ground in a furtive, fearful manner, gradually venturing farther into the circle and surveying the camp. Expecting it to flee back into the forest, Scotty was surprised when it turned and crept toward the cookhouse. As it drew nearer, Scotty discovered it was a cat, but a most peculiar-looking one, for one ear was completely missing, giving it a lopsided, grotesque appearance that might have been amusing if not for the panic-stricken terror in the cat’s eyes.

There could be only one proper story befitting this pitiful miscreant who was up against so much in life: the icy cold, the equally-hungry bigger animals, and the loneliness of surviving without a pack. Scotty threw to it little scraps of meat, and the friendship between the deformed little cat, soon named Tom, ripened into a warm companionship welcomed by the lonely Scotsman.

For Livermore resident Bob Cach, discovering a typewritten manuscript written by his father’s mother was like finding a treasure.

“I am touched by the fact that Grandma Kitty wrote such a wonderful book,” Cach said.

Cach’s strongest memory of his colorful grandmother, who died in 1964, was of her playing honky-tonk music on the piano. Reading her stories later in his life was like sharing her experiences.

Cach found the manuscript when he inherited it from his father’s estate, and knew he’d like to honor his grandmother by having it published. Though he worked with an editor, the adventures and tone continue to reflect a different time and place.

“I hope ‘Nature’s Way’ takes readers back to a special, simpler time,” Cach said. “It will appeal to a broad range of readers.”

As for Tom, he remained Scotty’s companion and protector for many years. Once, when Scotty was drowsing outside, he was awakened by a nearby rattling sound and became just about paralyzed with fear.

“Then, without any warning,” writes Grandma Kitty Robson, “a little gray shape frantically dashed over his shoulder and leaped with deadly aim for the venomous rattler. Spitting and growling as though to intensify his extreme hatred of the reptile, the cat jumped, and in one bound, had a firm grip with his teeth on the back of the snake’s head, all the while clawing and tearing at its coiled body.”

With the snake near death after a terrific fight, it lashed its tail, throwing Tom high into the air. Seconds later, Tom managed to weakly sit up, shaking his head as though to regain his senses.

“Scotty, tearfully caressing the little protector, realized with sudden clarity that the age-old supposition, stoutly proclaimed by scientists, that animals do not have the intelligence of humans, but live by instincts alone, had just been discounted beyond a doubt, by the little disfigured gray cat. The Scotsman wondered if it were really true, after all, that only human have souls.”

To order “Nature’s Way,” email Bob Cach at cachbox@comcast.net. Books (signed if you like) will be mailed to you for $15.