The Cat Did It. . .
This particular afternoon, I was lying contentedly on our picnic blanket in the middle of a grassy field, with big trees here and there and overhead, helping to keep the temperatures unseasonably cool.
We were also afforded a lovely view of the rear of the l'Orangerie of the Château de Sceaux (pronounced ‘so’). I thought to myself, “I can’t believe this place is only 30 minutes from our front door in Paris!"
To be truthful, if it weren’t for our cat, Mickey, we probably would have never discovered such jewels as this one; such Châteaux that almost always escape the eyes and feet of wandering tourists who aim for the likes of the Château de Versailles and the Château de Fontainebleau. Now don’t get me wrong, we have also enjoyed these historical and architectural giants during this period of relative freedom. But the lesser known spots are nonetheless brilliant and magical.
The story goes like this: Mickey was abandoned in a cardboard box with his littermates somewhere in Normandy before he was even ten-weeks old. Meanwhile, we had been searching for a kitten for a few months, but we were on the verge of losing all hope after being told by the French counterpart of the SPCA, the umbrella agency for all others, that we were too old to adopt a kitten (maybe we could foster an older cat, we were advised). However, we could not give up our search.
Finally, we found Mickey in an advertisement in December of 2019, and with the aide of a lovely Finnish woman named Joanna -- who worked in an office in the Place Madeleine -- offered to pick Mickey up at the St. Lazare train station and to bring him to meet us at our home.
Mickey was an adorable six-month old silver and charcoal tabby kitten that had yet to develop a proper meow. Instead, he communicated with a poignant squeak! We decided after a week’s trial to adopt him.
We were also determined to stay close to this little ‘mouse’ until April, to insure a strong bond and to secure his confidence in us as reliable humans who would never ever abandon him. However, in March, we three were confined to our home, with few exceptions, due to the frightening rise of COVID-19 in Europe.
Over the next 15-months and two more periods of confinement, our Mickey, no longer mousey and quite habituated to having his human heating elements at paws length, was not about to allow us to travel without leaving a proper surrogate in our place.
Thus, on March 16th of 2021, we bought a car and began to take day trips, but only when our right hand man Jeffrey was hone working twice weekly. We also indulged in short jaunts, out to dinner with friends, garden lunches just the two of us, or a museum exhibition during a weekday.
And so it is, thanks to Mickey, that we discovered enchanted spots like Sceaux, Château and Parc Marly, Château de Canon, St.Germain-en-Laye and others. These excursions have been a real breath of fresh air between heat waves, thunder storms, reading, streaming and writing at home and in Paris. These day trips have also helped immeasurably to take my mind off the publication of my first novel.
“Couched in Blood”, which has had the longest gestation period of any of my seven books, required over a dozen transformations before I dared send it away for publication. After all, there is an ocean of mystery novels, and we mystery writers are like sailors cast off a sinking ship, each attempting to stay afloat and to survive throughout the tempest that has resulted from a flooded market, fed by necessary confinements during this time of Covid-19, when what used to be a two to four hour period of daily writing, suddenly became a six to eight hour concentrated stint that certainly rescued me from the inevitable boredom of isolation from the world I had once known.
Speaking just for myself, my husband (and muse) did overtime to assist me in remaining sane in the face of the helplessness that I experienced in light of the situation we were and still are in, with this ever-evolving pandemic.
Given my state of doom and gloom, a nice cozy little murder mystery turned out to be just the right remedy for me!
Perhaps it will be for my readership as well.
Do stay tuned for the official launch date of the book and more information next week.