It happens every August.
No sooner does the Fireball come down, than my spirits swoop.
Fortunately this year, there’s another sort of white-hot flame.
Each August, Tabby’s Place’s
grand metropolis city town speck-on-the-map of Ringoes, NJ hosts the Hunterdon County Fair. This is wonderful for many reasons (fancy chickens, prize cucumbers, Big Fat Daddy’s BBQ), but none more than the Fireball.
I have never ridden the Fireball.
Come to think of it, I go to the fair every year, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody ride the Fireball.
But that doesn’t matter: from Tabby’s Place, for one shining week each summer, you can see the Fireball stretching into the sky, shouting “IT IS SUMMER, AND HAPPINESS IS NOW!”
And then, after five short days, it’s gone.
Since I think
great and important thoughts entirely too much, this always gets me kinda pensive and restive and sub-festive. July is over. August is nearly over. The Perseids have flown and the fair has folded. The fall of the Fireball means the fading of summer. The fading of summer means the march of fall. And fall means winter, which means ice and snow and gray and ohhhh…
Woe is me.
But this year, there’s Pablo.
Pablo has never ridden the Fireball. From the Tabby’s Place nursery, he can’t even see it. And he’s certainly never weathered a winter.
But woe is so not him.
Pablo was born in the land of bluegrass and Tar Heels, mild winters and fine furniture. From the look in his one blue eye and one green eye, life struck him as splendorous from its inception, and he hasn’t looked away from the bitter or the sweet since.
Maybe Pablo’s bright eyes strain so hard to see because they’re doing double duty. Although he’s clearly moved by some inner music, Pablo’s never heard a sound. Our winter-white kitten is completely deaf.
But woe is so not Pablo. Deaf? Don’t sweat it. Homeless? Meh, only temporarily. Somehow the scrappy orphan found his way into the single best situation you can experience in North Carolina.
That’s right. He found Carolina Cat Lover and Mrs. Carolina Cat Lover.
Trouble was, Pablo was so fond of the CCLs that he decided they were his personal property, and The World was his dominion. Since he had the unfortunate experience of not being the only member of his species, this meant he would have to systematically exterminate all other kittens — or at least hiss and fuss and itch and agitate to no end.
Woe is all non-Pablo kittens.
Through a happy series of circumstances, the tiny terminator made the journey north to Tabby’s Place. Maybe it’s just because we’re not as dreamy as the CCLs, or maybe Pablo’s inner soundtrack has eased from Iron Maiden to Ed Sheeran, but Pablo has decided that other cats may, in fact, be permitted to live.
Deafness? Defeated. Homelessness? Hacked. Bad behavior? Beaten.
And that’s the kicker: you can’t unlove life in the presence of Pablo. As the sole snowy kitten in a sea of black and tabby toddlers, his very body shouts “LIFE!” even as he sleeps. Wake him up, and your own joy will be sung out of slumber, no sound necessary.
It turns out that Pablo is the only Fireball we need — and make no mistake, he is utterly atomic.
These days, the only thing on Pablo’s plate is playtime (how does one wrestle all 14 of his roommates simultaneously?) and the last gasp of an upper respiratory infection. Once he’s sacked his snuffles, he’ll be headed home, forever-style, where he’ll be joining fellow alumna Savanna. Come fall and winter and any terrors this side of a Trump presidency, he’ll see — and bring — the joy.
Woe is not us — not if we have ears to hear the hardy joy of cats. Blaze on, my little fireballs.
Photo credits from de top: AT X2 (and you bet your banjo the guy who operated the Fireball thought I was interesting as I took these photos, if by “interesting” you mean “deranged”); Jess B; Mr. and Mrs. CCL; Mark.