Hope needs an orange collar.
Orange-collared cats need hope.
Hope was on the ropes when we first met her. Many moons ago, the orange-spangled cat wandered the streets of an uncommonly cute town. The town in question is beloved the whole world over for its bohemian spirit, its rainbow-sparkled joy, its bold weirdness and weird boldness and restaurants and cafes and gentle graceful people. There are peace signs and peace souls and an unquenchable generosity of spirit everywhere you turn.
It’s New Hope, PA, and it’s just a short VW bus ride away from our own little Ringoes, NJ.
New Hope is known for its warm embrace of all who wander beneath its technicolor halo. And so it was that kind people came upon Hope, and kindness led to happy circumstances, and New Hope led to new hope at Tabby’s Place.
If there was any sadness in this chapter, it was all ours. Hope was hardly here long enough for us to make flower crowns together. Adoption seemed almost instant; new hope followed new hope, and surely goodness and mercy would follow our Hope all the days of her life. Right?
Right…but that never happens in the way we expect, not for any of us.
Years hopped along; Woodstock approached its 50th anniversary; Hope spent the time getting inexplicably angry. With sorrow and confusion, her scratched and bitten adopters returned her to her old hope, her Tabby’s Place.
Suffice to say everything was not groovy.
But if Hope 2.0 was more a cawing crow than a dove of peace, we were prepared. Hope, after all, is not something you can whip up once and then live off of for life. It must be kneaded and baked and served fresh every day, unique to the day’s aches and angers.
Hope’s loaf of new hope included an unconventional ornament. Given her
grouchiness underworldly wrath, she would need an orange collar. As you’ll recall, this does not mark someone as a “bad” cat (as if such a thing could exist) — just a “handle with care” cat, or, specifically, a “DO NOT HANDLE unless you’re workin’ with the behaviorist” cat.
It sounds harsh. (It is harsh. We are asking the majority of people not to touch the face of Hope.) But it is an act of mercy, both to the hands that will not be bitten and to the cats that will learn, day by staggering day, how to give and receive love.
It’s an off-ramp to understanding.
It’s an avenue to “adoptability.”
It’s a protest against the idea that there are angers too deep to untangle, wounds too wailing to heal, wars without end.
And so we work with Hope, sure as spaghetti that there’s fresh new hope still ahead. Generations of gentle graceful people present and beyond the veil are with us here (I’m looking at you, Jerry Garcia), believing in a peace, love and understanding that transcend slogans and soundbites and moments in time.
We don’t know if Hope will be adopted again. We don’t know if she’ll ever permanently stop nipping and flipping and turning on a dime. (It fell out of The Man’s pocket, which is reason enough for Hope. But I digress.)
But we hope — which is a form of knowing — that she will stretch into a full, bright future. She will be loved. She will be cheered for. She will be serenaded for exactly the tortie she is.
The scents of fresh-baked hope will wake her every morning.
Yes, Hope; here comes the sun.
Postscript: Hope is now uncollared and fancy free. She’s been doing so beautifully, she’s “graduated” out of the orange-collar crew. Stay tuned…