The Chronicles of Smurf – Principle 12
Creatively use and respond to change
What is this? Scrapings in the soft earth and an unpleasant, musty aroma. It is an odour which has become distressingly familiar of late. Surely not?
I inspect the crime scene more closely. Indeed, it is so. There can be no doubt. Boofhead has been crapping under my lemon tree again. Desecration of my toileting ground! A treaty violation of the worst order!
If I ever catch up with the bastard I will claw his fat, fluffy arse until he pleads for mercy. Territorial incursions must not go unpunished. No more Mr Nice Cat. He will feel the iron claw in the velvet glove. Paw. Whatever.
The miscreant’s human-bestowed name is MC Ginger. I find ‘Boofhead’ altogether more fitting for this insolent orange interloper from the neighbouring property.
Deep in thoughts of bloody revenge, I return home from patrol. Along the Wibble Wobble Way, past the bird bath and a short-cut through the globe artichokes.
I arrive to an unaccustomed and disconcerting degree of attention from my humans.
‘There you are, Smurf!’ says the Suzy, opening the kitchen door and beaming.
Well, evidently, yes. Here I am. What of it?
The Harper bends over me. Expecting a pat, I raise my head – then find myself borne aloft and clamped in a tight embrace. It is not entirely comfortable. The Harper is an affectionate boy, but this is surely unwarranted? He nuzzles his cheek against me and moisture falls from his face on to my fur.
Well, this is new. Is he upset?
He carries me into the living room, followed by the Suzy and the Fern. I become aware that there is another person present. A stranger? Yet the thin, grey-haired figure sitting on the sofa is vaguely familiar.
‘Hello, boy. Remember me?’
Good grief. Surely not?
The familiar voice, the beloved musty scent of old human female with cloying overtones of damask rose. It is the Nan!
The Harper sets me down and I sidle over to my old companion and carer, rub my flank against her bony legs and wrap the tip of my tail around the back of her knee in greeting. She bends down and scratches behind my ear in that spot that nobody else has ever itched satisfactorily.
‘You do remember, don’t you?’
How could I possibly forget?
‘I hope he’s been good?’
‘Yes,’ says the Suzy, ‘he’s been no trouble at all, bless him. We’ll all miss him.’
Pleased though I am to see the Nan, I have no desire to return to the humdrum life of a house cat, pacing the quiet, uneventful rooms to the unceasing hollow tock of the black marble timepiece on the mantel. Reduced to hissing at Pooky the Sausage Dog across the landing and mouthing obscenities at the sparrows through the kitchen window. Pooping not in freshly cultivated earth but in a horrid, smelly litter tray.
Am I to be whisked away from my new life without so much as a by-your-leave? Passed back and forth like a cat-shaped parcel?
This – without even the chance to bid farewell to my canine comrade-in-arms and second lieutenant in the Animal Rights Brigade (Dry Creek Farm Division). It is Tuesday morning: Banjo and the Hub will be at work for many hours yet. I might never see my fuzzy-muzzled friend again.
In a flash, the wise words of the Twelfth Principle of Permaculture come to me:
We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.
Yes, well then. This is clearly the right time for intervention.
I scamper away from the Nan, across the rug, miaowing piteously. To the Harper. He scoops me up and gives me another rib-crushing hug. Though a little dizzy through lack of oxygen, I can feel the little boy’s sobs.
‘Smurfy needs to go home, darling,’ soothes the Suzy, ruffling the Harper’s hair.
Not if I have anything to do with it, Lady. I know exactly how to appeal to the Nan’s emotions. Her loving heart will be as a small, fluffy mammal in my masterful paws.
Right on cue: ‘He seems so happy here, dear. And your little boy loves him.’
‘But he’s your cat, Mrs Wilson …’
Excuse me?! I think you will find that I am very much my own cat.
A glance confirms that my actions have hit the mark. My gambit has paid off. No: the Nan is not the woman to break the heart of a little boy. Visiting rights are negotiated, with all the tedious verbal to-ing and fro-ing that humans seem to delight in, loquacious creatures that they are, bless them.
In précis: I shall continue to live at Dry Creek Farm and the Hannah – the fat, wheezing, testy daughter of the Nan – will bring her mother over to visit me periodically.
To seal the agreement, tea and cake are consumed by the humans. Banjo will be inconsolable to have missed out on the feast, when I tell him of the fat, moist fragments of cake that the Fern contrived to distribute liberally over the dining room floor. Diligently removed, alas, by the Suzy with her dustpan and brush.
Rest assured: I shall spare him none of the details.
David Holmgren is the originator of the 12 permaculture design principles, which are cited above.