Winter’s Woes, and Wonders

Alex Beautiful CatLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – Today is the first day of spring. An entire season has passed since the Scion stopped in Arkadelphia last December. So many wonderful things have happened in the last three months, but there’s an overwhelming sadness too. On March 11 our dear companion Alex died. Alex came into my life in December 1997; a grand and joyful Christmas that was! The vet estimated his age to be eight months, a foundling from the pound, history unknown. He remained my faithful friend for seventeen years, moving cross-country with me twice, and recently, of course, making theRegal Thinker journey to 48 of the states as part of our little troop. He died in my arms, just after midnight; his tiny body succumbing to the effects of hyperthyroidism, and methimazole; his nine lives used up, at last. “Why would you take a cat on such a long trip,” someone asked me once. “Why didn’t you leave him at home?” “I was his home,” I replied. And he was mine. Every place I’ve been has felt like home because of Alex. A picture of him in the bloom of life graces the front of a walnut box on a shelf in our living room now, his ashes tucked inside. He always liked hidey spots! Under the bedspread (making a prominent lump). On top of the refrigerator. On top of the cabinet above the refrigerator. Beneath the 07070265AlexZenGardenhostas by the back fence. Even inside the wall of the bathroom when I had some remodeling done. Yes, he got sealed in. “You’re lucky he was able to finish the Journey with you,” people are saying; “you have such memories.” That’s true, I do. But they don’t fill the empty spot in my heart. Jack misses him too, except, as cats tend to think, it finally dawned on him that he is now King of the Hill. Scratching with clawless paws, he marked every piece of furniture in the house after a week. God love precious cats! Did you notice I said “house”? Now let me tell you our wonderful news.

14 cats on sofaWe moved into a house in January. I decided to rent for a while until I learned the town. The house was built in 1900; it is spacious and open and light. Our first moment of that first day was hilarious, when I set the cat’s carriers in the living room, thinking how happy they’d be with so many rooms to wander at last. They didn’t wander, they howled! But we adjusted to our grand space quickly. The floor plan reminds me of my grandparent’s house, with a “sleeping porch” across the back. A sleeping porch with solid pine walls and many windows; a 08 09 HSU corner of campus across 10th Stperfect place for an office, and for writing about capital cities. The location suits too; right between two college campuses and two blocks from a Sonic. Libraries and milkshakes, ah. I hear chapel bells chiming and I watch students strolling by on the sidewalk out front. Across the 08 05 Barkman House now HSU Administative Officesstreet is a house built in 1860; it’s been restored to its mansion glory, a lovely view from my front windows. I have a magnolia, camellia, and holly in my yard, and they are tall trees, not shrubs; there’s a wooded ravine out back so I’m frequently visited by birds, and rabbits, and raccoons. Such a respite, after two years on the road!

Even more wonderful is my welcoming acceptance by the people here. I joined the Clark County Historical Association right away, and signed up for a committee at the first meeting. I 19 eagle cruisejoined the Arkadelphia group of the Arkansas Libraries Book Clubs, and the Clark County Arts and Humanities Council. I’ve taken the Eagle Cruise on Lake DeGray and perused the exhibits at the Arts Center and been to a talk at the Museum about Chickasaw Removal through Arkansas and followed the Civil War Trail through the countryside and enjoyed a Fat Tuesday potluck at the Methodist Church. I’ve caught up on my physicals and dental appointments and car servicings. I’ve got my Arkansas driver license and Arkansas license plate. The post office delivers mail to my door, and everyone in town knows my name, it seems. No matter where I go, I see a familiar face and somebody says, “Hi Linda, are you getting settled in?” “Yes,” I reply. “I certainly am.”

Clark County Arts and Humanities Council

Clark County Historical Association