When you get to pet three baby kittens who aren’t yet even thirty-six hours old, that’s the Day’s Delight. (It doesn’t matter what else happens, that’s the law).
Three tiny bodies with already rounding bellies, long thin tails, nearly-gone umbilical chords, paws like blackberry drupelets, claws just an idea of what’s to come.
The mama cat looked up at once if a kitten that was being cradled out of the box made a sound– the tiniest mew, the most innocent and longing call. She rolled onto her back to let us pet her, and kittens slid off and were gently repositioned. It felt exactly the same as it did when I was a kid– of course baby kittens can find their way to the one thing they need, especially when the litter is small and the competition is nearly non-existent, but there’s something so lovely in interfering. In helping the way a child helps: all good intention and focus and slow carefulness with the small sacred thing.
I told my friend it was like sitting around a fire– I could watch for hours, drawn into a state that is far simpler and more elemental than we tend to make life to be: a cardboard box for a border between Here and There, Safe and Unknown; an old blanket for comfort; new life pressing against your belly as a throaty pur rumbles in your chest; and a reverent public honoring you for doing the thing you knew by pure instinct, that you never had to be taught.
I think we’re all a lot better– more natural– at this than we think.