“I said a prayer to Saint Gertrude of Nivelles, patron saint of cats.”
Before we forget how bad it was, let’s jump into this year’s garden. Let’s rush to local garden stores, let’s rip out order forms from nursery catalogs and let’s connect online with distant greenhouses. Let’s load up on seed packets, bulbs and potted plants.
Then, if we’re lucky, an unseasonably cold spell will send us inside. A week or so of steady rain will keep us there. The gardening fever will pass, and the plants will die where we left them.
This 1-2-zoom pace is how I do much of my life. Some people take on projects differently. They make thoughtful plans, design a reasonable action and execute it in measured stride. Others of us live at Wile E. Coyote speed.
There’s something to be said about great enthusiasm and jumping into the deep end. Maybe the something to be said is “impulsive behavior.” That’s what someone said about me: “My, you’re impulsive, aren’t you?” I never stopped to think of that.
Start-stop enthusiasm can be applied to nearly anything: craft projects, exercising, house cleaning, cooking. This is how I end up with craft supplies left in shopping bags and cleaning equipment abandoned in the middle of the floor.
If you identify with any of this, whatever you do, don’t research it. Google will take you down dark, twisted psychological paths. You’ll learn that spontaneity’s ugly cousin is impulsivity. You’ll read about actions described as “poorly conceived and prematurely expressed with undesirable outcomes.” You’ll discover a nasty tangle of impulsivity, stress and alcohol.
You’ll start to worry if you have the mutated gene connected to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which predisposes some people to impulsivity. This worry can increase your stress, which can lead to more impulsivity and more alcohol consumption.
You’ll start to second-guess yourself. “Is this an act of childlike enthusiasm,” you’ll wonder, “or nuttiness?”
And yet, sometimes impulsive actions are thrust upon us. One recent afternoon, I noticed that people strolling by my house stopped to stare at the roof.
“What now?” I thought, and the possibilities weren’t good. I’d been meaning to have that big sycamore trimmed. I went outside to look and saw — at the tippy top of my tall, pointed roof — a tiny tortoise-shell kitten. I called, I cooed, I cajoled, but nothing would move her.
Being an experienced cat person I knew that (a) if I climbed up to get her, I might fall and she would surely jump away and (b) if she got herself up there, she could get herself down. Smug with this wisdom, I said a prayer to Saint Gertrude of Nivelles, patron saint of cats, for the kitten to find a safe home, and I went inside.
The next night, a young couple who lives across the street came calling my name. The woman was holding her arms straight in front of her like a zombie. Her husband followed several steps behind.
“Connie, help us,” the woman said. Then, as my eyes adjusted to the dark, I could see that the woman was holding the tortie kitten.
“Help us,” she said. “We found this sweet, sweet kitten, but we’re both deathly allergic to cats.”
“I have to have injections,” he added.
“You have to help us,” she said.
I looked heavenward.
“Gertrude,” I said firmly, dropping her title to show my annoyance, “this is not the answer I wanted.”
Some people have a blessed blindness; they do not see stray cats, lost dogs or homeless people. For others of us, once we see them, we can’t not see them.
This impulsive story has a happy ending. I took the kitten to my veterinary clinic and paid to have her vaccinated while I figured out what to do. As a veteran stray cat woman, I know that the law of the land is: If you find a cat, you now own a cat.
A miracle happened. Not two hours later, the clinic called to say one of the staff had fallen in love with the kitten and wanted to adopt her.
The allergic couple across the street was impulsively compassionate. I was impulsively impulsive. Prayers were answered, and the kitten has a home. Thank you, Saint Gertrude.