She comes crying, sleek, grey and thin in the warmth of a dusky evening. Eventually we give in to her cries. We offer her food and set down milk. She eats and drinks, gratefully. Then a few days later, we stumble across a surprise behind the garage. Born in a bucket, next to the woodpile, is a litter of five tiny kittens. The ginger one is immediately adopted by the youngest cousin; we claim the dark tabby one with the blue eyes. A tiny white one, the runt of the litter, is taken away by a cousin to feed by hand. The ginger one is dropped in the excitement. Later on, a note appears, saying “Sorry Jinja”, and Jinja has his name. We call ours Midnight Storm; it is the dark, wild one. The children visit the kittens at every opportunity, playing with them while they have the chance. They are, they inform us, in “cute overload”.
Soon we will be gone. This part of our holiday will be over. The bucketful of kittens must stay behind, to be passed on to someone else, when we are gone. No, we can’t take them with us, however much we might love to. But while we had the chance, we learned how to handle something tiny, and to do it ever so gently. It was a holiday lesson. Long may the learning continue.