Cat on the Edge of Time

December is starting to addle our brains. We did the backwards-day thing again today, but with the other calendar. We managed to get Germany right. We got up and opened box 22, and in fairness, since that was the only horizontal box, it wasn’t all that hard to figure out. So after we finished up the last of the Winter Earl Grey for breakfast, and mourned its loss because that was a gorgeous tea, we had the darjeeling.

We poured our first pot at the end of a lunch hour mostly spent walking dachshunds and revelling in the sun. But after a morning on Zoom somehow getting out into the sun and the cool weather was more important than actually eating, and we had a lovely, muddy tramp through the ravine. Yesterday was so grey, and we’re just that bit sick of twilight rambles, always worrying about getting back before the light goes.

So anyway, we made the Darjeeling, which was Ronnefeldt Darjeeling, a lovely first flush blend. It’s floral and brews quite strong, but not so much so you can’t drink it without milk. And it got us through a long, dull afternoon. Then it revived us at 4 when the afternoon was finally over.

Now we are drinking Valerian Nights, which was apparently tomorrow’s tea, and we have no excuse because the numbers on the DavidsTea calendar are large-print friendly and everything. But Valerian is a weird one. We always debate getting Miss Marschallin to guest write this tea sample because whereas it makes humans sleepy, it’s Ecstasy to cats. No, really. Worse than catnip. Fill a toy with this stuff and watch them go truly berserk. Od course, it also stinks to high heaven – we’d forgotten just how badly until we did the weekly swap-round of cat toys and got out the valerian…then worried the attic was burning or possibly something had died in the roof. But no, just the reintroduction of valerian into the atmosphere.

This is probably why DavdsTea has revamped the stuff and bent over backwards to make it smell not of burnt fuses and/or dead animals. Weirdly, what seems to be blocking out the valerian taste is…coconut. Remember how violently we hate it? Yeah, well, we take it back. It works like a charm here. It doesn’t even taste of sunblock! There’s a whole other thwack of stuff in there too; hibiscus to turn it pink, blackberry leaves to keep it sweet, sugar, ditto – and we forgive them the sugar because with something like valerian you do need these outlandish extremes. In black tea not so much but when trying to make something quite that potent palatable, it balances nicely.

Everything combines so that the primary taste is of toffee, which isn’t at all unpleasant. The only lingering oddity, aside from the fact the valerian has swayed even us to its thrall, is that they feel a need to specify it’s dairy-free. That’s great David…but why wouldn’t this be dairy-free? (We long ago stopped asking when tea started having latent milk concentrate; DavidsTea have been doing it for years. With certain blends we even think it justified.) What about this rooibos–herbal hybrid was supposed to make me think milk was even in the ingredients? Ah well, you’ve worked a special kind of alchemy with this one and we cop to your superiority in all things tea.

Since it’s a cat’s tea we went looking for cat-themed poems for you. There are lots out there, but the one that peaked our interest came from Marge Piercy. Remember her? She famously authored Woman on the Edge of Time, featuring protagonist Connie’s might-be-visions-might-be-psychotic-episodes?.

We had the misfortune to encounter this thing by way of a unit on eco-feminism. We knew it wasn’t for us when the first chapter evolved rapidly into the gorriest back-street abortion scene anyone will ever read by way of an inciting incident. And we say that coming off of Wayson Choy’s The Jade Peony. We know our way around horrific literary do-it-yourself abortions, bizarrely. Anyway, Piercy also includes a utopia, possibly in compensation for that horrifying first chapter. The men nurse the babies, which we seem to recall grow in pods, and everyone is vaguely genderless anyway. But that’s only the first act! There then follows an alternate dystopia that possibly-delusional Connie has to somehow prevent, as guided by the androgynous angel messenger. It’s by turns horrifying, weird, and in places just downright perplexing. And we’ll never forget that opening sequence. We’ve forgotten great swathes of this book, but not that.

But anyway, the same author has apparently turned her hand to cat poetry, and the thing is, for as much as we run screaming from Woman on the Edge of Time, the poem works. We like it. It rings true to anyone who has ever owned a cat. This is less Miss Marschallin and more her predecessor, Keys, but still. So sit back, clear your head of all latent Marge Piercey associations, especially if they involve misapplication of kitchen ranges, and enjoy.

The Cat’s Song 
Marge Piercy

Mine, says the cat, putting out his paw of darkness.
My lover, my friend, my slave, my toy, says
the cat making on your chest his gesture of drawing
milk from his mother’s forgotten breasts.
Let us walk in the woods, says the cat.
I’ll teach you to read the tabloid of scents,
to fade into shadow, wait like a trap, to hunt.
Now I lay this plump warm mouse on your mat.
You feed me, I try to feed you, we are friends,
says the cat, although I am more equal than you.
Can you leap twenty times the height of your body?
Can you run up and down trees? Jump between roofs?
Let us rub our bodies together and talk of touch.
My emotions are pure as salt crystals and as hard.
My lusts glow like my eyes. I sing to you in the mornings
walking round and round your bed and into your face.
Come I will teach you to dance as naturally
as falling asleep and waking and stretching long, long.
I speak greed with my paws and fear with my whiskers.
Envy lashes my tail. Love speaks me entire, a word
of fur. I will teach you to be still as an egg
and to slip like the ghost of wind through the grass.

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