It is what it says...
|Cats on the Roof!
Living in the woods has its advantages. The awesome beauty of the changing seasons, the peace and privacy all are pluses to be found when living near nature. On the other hand, the trees that grow near the house present certain disadvantages. Besides the obvious problems with falling limbs, these same trees offer an apparently irresistible lure to cats.
It would be okay if they climbed them and came back down, but all too soon they learned that they could climb them and jump onto the roof. The problem here is twofold; first, they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) jump back onto the tree and second, the roof is 25 feet from the ground!
The first cat to learn this new trick was Tiger.
On a cold December morning, while dutifully providing their morning feeding, we heard a plaintiff cry from above. Please. There can’t be a cat on the roof!
Oh, yes there can be.
We had yet to learn that the cats couldn’t get off the roof they had gotten onto, so we decided that at this point, discretion was the better part of valor.
If he found his way up, he’d find his way down.
We could hope couldn’t we?
So, when returning home from work, we were sure that the problem would have resolved itself.
With a very cold night coming, valor now became the better part of discretion.
How hard could this be? Drag out the ladder. Climb it. Don’t look down. Grab the cat. Don’t look down. Climb back down. Have some dinner. Simple.
Wrong, yet again.
By this time, Tiger was tired, hungry and scared. To further complicate matters, there was a thin layer of ice on the roof.
Let me give you a little background.
I wasn’t always afraid of heights. When I was a kid, I’d sneak out my second floor bedroom window and climb up the roof to its highest point where I’d spend hours watching the world go by.
My friends and I would race up and down trees, seeing who could climb the highest. I’d climb as high as I could go and hang on yelling with joy while the wind blew the tree from side to side. We built tree houses higher than this roof, hanging on with one hand while nailing support pieces to the trunk. That never scared me.
But, with age comes a healthy fear of injury and death, and heights can cause both.
Now, when I clean the gutters I have to slide myself to the edge of the roof while clutching the edge of the shingles with my free hand. I have to admit that the pitch on our roof isn’t very steep, either. It isn’t flat, but I’m guessing that any roofer reading this would be calling me names if he or she saw the pitch.
So, let’s review - fear of heights, terrified cat, icy roof, getting dark. What could possibly go wrong?
Figuring that a little bait would help, a can of Tiger’s favorite food went up the ladder with me. Of course, he wouldn’t come to the edge, so I had to get onto that icy roof and act as though everything was normal while I coaxed him to my side. Sure enough, the plan worked! Hunger overcame fear and Tiger crawled over for a meal. When he was close enough, I picked him up and stuffed him securely inside my coat.
All that was left now was to slip (literally) back to the ladder and head inside.
Did I mention that I have a trick knee?
As I edged nearer to the ladder (remember the icy roof?), my knee chose that moment to pop, sending me (and Tiger, still in my coat) sprawling onto the roof. Now, if you have a trick knee, you now how I felt. If you don’t, I can tell you that the pain is quite literally blinding for a few seconds. In fact, it can be incapacitating.
A little more background is in order.
On one memorable occasion, I was batting with the bases loaded in an adult softball league. I got the pitch I was looking for and hit a sharp line drive down the left field line. Unfortunately, that same trick knee took chose that moment to pop. As I lay crumbled in the batter’s box, the bases cleared – my teammates stepping over me as they reached home. Shortly after the last runner scored, the relay throw came in from the outfield and I was tagged out while still lying in the box. My buddies still tell that story twenty years later.
The pain subsides in a few minutes, but the feeling of weakness and instability in the knee is dramatic.
So here we are. Both, Tiger and I were stuck on the roof. Deb was on the ground – literally beside herself knowing what had just happened to me on the roof.
At this point, all I can see is the footage on the local news of the Cat Rescuer being rescued by the fire department. Determined to avoid what was sure to be local (if not worldwide) embarrassment, I managed to regain enough composure to struggle to my feet and swing myself onto the ladder. 25000 feet and much cursing later, we were safely on the ground.
What had appeared to be a relatively straightforward cat rescue had become quite an ordeal. I was in some pretty serious pain, knowing that more was on its way. Knee injuries like mine are not uncommon. Athletes that have similar injuries usually have surgery and miss the rest of the season. They still get paid millions of dollars. I was going to have to suck it up and gimp my way into work the following morning if I wanted to get paid.
As I said, I’ve done this before. Swelling, weakness and moderate pain follow the injury itself. Recovery takes a couple of weeks. I’ve learned to deal with it by wrapping my knee tightly with an elastic bandage and taking copious quantities of some over-the-counter pain reliever.
Tiger seemed to be pretty much oblivious to my current situation, and I’m sure that he had no idea what the next two weeks held for me. When I reached into my coat and pulled him out, he was none the worse for the wear, trotting happily toward his family as soon as I put him down.
I limped inside while Deb filled a plastic bag with crushed ice to try to keep the swelling down. Tiger was last seen chasing one of his sisters down the deck stairs, running headlong toward his next adventure.
At least the cat was down safely.
Surely, Tiger would tell his family to stay off the roof…