Let me digress.
Sure I’m an artist, and I paint a lot around the land, see a lot, and hear quite a bit too. Doesn’t take being an artist to see and observe. This world is a fascinating place, and I’m happy to be here, but sometimes you’ve just got to shake your head.
Just back from a painting competition in Richmond Virginia, the “Plein Air Richmond 2016”. A wonderful event, in an amazing part of this country, beautiful, & historic, with great people all around… and cats.
Actually, not just cats, there were dogs, squirrels, birds, marmots, you name it, the regular crowd of critters scurrying about the city, picking up where humans leave off… or leave behind rather. Anyway, as I was painting in the Italian Gardens of the Maymont Mansion up came this cute little cat, friendly as can be wanting a little attention. I talked to it some, asked him how he was and all that. I was nice to it, but I was there to paint so I didn’t sit down and try to share life stories with it.
The cat did not look homeless, it was well groomed, healthy, very outgoing, but without the collar that us humans tend to put on these things to ensure folks know that it’s “claimed” by another. Well I set up my easel in the shade and began painting. As time went by, more artists began to join me in the gardens, finding beautiful subjects to paint and setting up to get to work. Our little cat friend was quite elated about this, more attention! A few well placed meows, a rubbing against a leg or two, and an onslaught of distressed artists fell upon this little animal like Liberace in a sequin factory.
“The poor kitty”, “It must be starving”. “We’ve got to help it”. (just a few of the things that I was overhearing as I painted the rose bush by the stairs.
Well, I don’t doubt it was hungry, I know I was. But it did not look like it was lacking in anything except a collar. Well this was the cat’s lucky day, or maybe unlucky depending on how you look at it. The event just happened to be sponsored by the Richmond SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) A wonderful organization, and something I’m totally happy to help out, donate to, promote. I am very much against being cruel to animals, but then our perception of “cruelty” might differ a bit. I think sticking a dog in a sweater vest is a bit on the “inhumane” side, right Bobby Knight?
Just about everyone in sight was finding things for the kitty cat to eat, one went to their car and brought back a can of cat food, another shared some delicious looking sandwich that I would have given one of my paint brushes for, and then up comes someone with an animal carrier. A little cardboard box with a handle and holes on the side to breath. I mean some people are prepared for everything.
Obviously a former Scout, or Brownie I bet.
Well off they carted the well fed kitty to the shelter at the RSPCA, where of course they named it, photographed it and posted all over the social media, maybe to be the next surprise for your little girl’s 7th birthday party?
“But I asked for a horse!”
I watched from my vantage point in the shade underneath an old American Elm tree, just wondering, just thinking about what we’ve come to in this land. The past couple nights, well actually since I took up painting outdoors, I’ve come across people on the street corners with signs and a cup. Under bridges, sleeping on benches, and for the most part, people turn their back on them, or shrug them off, while others shout out, “get a job.”
Now why didn’t they think of that?
I was painting with a half dozen artists under the bridges at the train station the other evening. A very active area with people from all walks of life, and a “homeless” woman came up asking for help. I reached into my pocket and gave her a dollar, making sure I kept enough for the toll getting back to my hosts’ house. The artist next to me said “they’re just going to keep coming back if you do that”.
I knew that, and you probably did too.
I’m big on helping those who help themselves, I love the lyrics of a song by Bob Walkenhorst of the Rainmakers,
“Give a man free food and he’ll figure out a way
To steal more than he can eat ’cause he doesn’t have to pay”
I have no idea how that’s related, but any time I can plug Bob it’s a good thing. The point is, I don’t normally give out food or money, but depending on the situation I’ve no problem with it.
Just in the United States alone last year we spent over $56 billion dollars on pets. BILLION! Holy Toledo Batman! Then in comparison we spent a “Historic” $4.5 billion on helping the homeless.
It’s just strange, okay I’ll go so far as to say, it’s a bit sad. It’s estimated that this year it will be $60 billion Americans spend on their furry little friends, something they can stroke to lower their blood pressure.
Am I an animal hater, no way! I love animals, I love pets, I grew up with dogs and cats, rabbits and peacocks. I’m a friend to all. I even have myself a little policy that I won’t step on a bug that would squish out beyond the edges of my shoe. (sorry bug lovers)
It was just something that I observed while painting out there among ya’ll. You see a bit of everything out there, traveling the country, painting in all sorts of different environments, parks, big cities, small towns, you see what the world is really like, outside the sheltered walls of your humble abode. It’s like you’re a “fly on the wall” out here sometimes. The things people say and do, one could write a book. Actually 1,000’s HAVE written books, and it’s like crazy daddio!
Life is stranger than fiction, they say.
I’ll shush up now, go back to painting, and maybe I’ll write something about art next time around, but then what do I know?
In the meantime, “Meow” mean “Woof” in Cat… quote by the late George Carlin.