Feline Serenade

To say we spent most of the day reading for Monday’s book club, it’s been a busy sort of day. Though we did spend most of it reading for Monday’s book club. And actually, we were going to try and pull a poem relevant to the book, since a handful of poets get a mention. Remind us Monday.

We broke up the reading a bit with tea from Germany. Today it was coconut green tea, which smelled powerfully of coconut but didn’t really taste of it. Maybe we cheated on the steeping a bit. Coconut is a rare flavour we’re not wild about. But it works really well with this tea. It’s a Sencha, which can brew quite strong quickly and the coconut is the perfect compliment. It keeps it sweet but doesn’t taste of sunblock. (Cue our horror-filled memories of the imposter Coconut Custard Creme.) It was a pleasant surprise and one we’ll definitely be going back to.

So anyway, we went out to stream an opera and promptly forgot what poems were in the book. We were too busy trying to play Spot That Aria as we watched Something Rich and Strange. Which was an experience; we’d missed opera and it was an interesting reimagining of what opera might look like as artists wove together all this different music. We’ve missed opera, and singing, and generally all things musical.

Well, so, no book club adjacent poetry. By this point it was late and we were drinking DavidsTea’s Peach Parfait – another green tea – while watching Waking the Dead (addled family touchingly misname it The Walking Dead no matter how often we explain why this is a very different show) as part of the Dachshund Cuddle.

We’ve been pretty good this year about using up a full sample every day. We have finally found the perfectly sized infuser for this. But that wasn’t the case today. Peach Parfait is one of the returning teas and it’s easily our favourite ever turned out by this calendar. (This will probably shock those keeping score at home of our preference for black tea, any black tea, any time of day.) But green tea pairs beautifully with fruit. The peach makes it sweet, and fruity and almost like an oolong in flavour. It’s a bit tropical, a bit golden, and it tastes gloriously of summer. So when it cropped up today you can bet we rationed it. And maybe we’ll stock up on a full tin in the New Year the way we always mean to.

It was at this point the cat joined the TV Cuddle and brought to our attention that today is, in popular culture Caturday, and not only that, but somehow we’re halfway (halfway!) through Advent without ever dedicating a poem to Miss Marschallin. It won’t do, we tell you. Well, she tells us.

And as it happens, Opera Atelier has given us the perfect opportunity. If it hasn’t already been mentioned, Miss Marschallin takes her name from the popular Strauss opera Der Rosenkavalier. She’s Field-Marschallin Marie-Therese in full. Resi for everyday, Miss Marschallin on the blog. Not only that, but we were singing when we met her.

You could do that pre-Covid, you see. We often did. We wandered to the grocery store singing hymns from choir rehearsal. We walked home singing Rusalka’s Moon Song. We walked to singing lessons practicing the piece of the hour and home ditto. We used to sing A Saint-Malo Beau Port de Mer and La Volette. There were others. We were singing Vilja-Leid when we met Miss Marschallin. Whereas previous cats used to run screaming from our soprano, she bunted our hands in response. Indeed, when we had family staying it wasn’t until she sat down at the piano and began singing that Miss Marschallin deigned to warm up to her.

To honour Miss Marschallin then, and to observe Caturday, here’s a poem about another singing cat. Turns out there’s a long history of them.

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The Singing Cat
Stevie Smith

It was a little captive cat
Upon a crowded train
His mistress takes him from his box
To ease his fretful pain.

She holds him tight upon her knee
The graceful animal
And all the people look at him
He is so beautiful.

But oh he pricks and oh he prods
And turns upon her knee
Then lifteth up his innocent voice
In plaintive melody.

He lifteth up his innocent voice
He lifteth up, he singeth
And to each human countenance
A smile of grace he bringeth.

He lifteth up his innocent paw
Upon her breast he clingeth
And everybody cries, Behold
The cat, the cat that singeth.

He lifteth up his innocent voice
He lifteth up, he singeth
And all the people warm themselves
In the love his beauty bringeth.

Note though; when we travel with Miss Marschallin be it by train, plane or bus, everyone, bar everyone comments on how beautifully mannered and quiet she is. It’s only when we haul her to the dread V-E-T or stay too long in bed that we get serenaded with the saddest, most plaintive meow in the world.

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