Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Amisi the cat has taught Pete a number of new tricks, all designed to make him the perfect valet for a feline.
He has learned how to get her tinned food the right temperature and how to mix it properly with the dry stuff. He is now able to get up from a sound sleep and without stumbling, go to the door and let her out. He is trained to wait by the door for her return, which can take anywhere from less than a minute to half an hour. She has managed to teach him how to rub exactly the right places on her shoulders, a skill I have been struggling to acquaint him with for years.
I had conceded defeat; the cat was the primary reason Pete came back to Watson Lake and I had been relegated to the position of flunky. It was not a bad life once I got used to it; I still had the run of the house and all the comforts therein. When Pete was away, I regained a bit of my former power and Amisi was clever enough to maintain a polite distance. She did manage to take over my friends, however, being her most beguiling whenever someone visited and causing them to regard me with some concern whenever I dared complain about her.
This uneasy situation underwent a dramatic change last week when I got sick. Pete came home to find me too ill to get up and greet him; I’d been ill for days, starting out with a mild tummy upset that went into a full-on and utterly wretched flu-ish condition that rapidly did me in. I ended up in the local hospital overnight, hooked up to a drip and barely conscious. The very next day I was allowed to go home, feeling tremendously better, and told to take it easy for a few days.
Well! The whole episode, the trauma of maybe losing the wife he truly loved, the woman who made his life worth living, who made his days sunny and his nights full of passion, brought Pete to his senses. Ignoring the plaintive wails of Amisi, Pete waited on me with a devotion worthy of a saint, bringing me cups of tea and plates of crackers, soothing my fevered brow, giving me hour-long back rubs and watching chick flicks with me all afternoon. It was lovely; I considered becoming an invalid, one with a severe allergy to cats.
When I was better, but still too weak to raise even my hopes, Pete had to go to Fort St. John – a meeting he could not miss. It was decided I could go with him, bundled up, with a thermos of tea and my iPod. We would spend the night in a hotel and drive home the next day, all at a relaxing pace, enjoying one another’s company, talking of pleasant things. When it became clear to Amisi that she was not to be included in this jaunt, she was brought low; even sinking so far as to do the big-eyed thing like Puss in Boots in the Shrek movies. Cheap trick, but effective, and Pete had a moment of wavering, but it was just a moment, and for the first time in a long time, it was I who triumphed.
The weather was perfect, the tourists mostly gone, and the fall colours are at their finest, a good time for a short road trip with a loved one.
I had heard about cinnamon buns that were touted as ‘the best in the galaxy’ being sold at a little RV resort on the Alaska Highway somewhere near Ft. Nelson and was resolved to find the place and sample the wares.
It turned out to be at Mile 375, Tetsa River RV Park, and we arrived 15 minutes before the famed buns were to come out of the oven. Knowing nothing would heal me faster than a really good cinnamon bun, I persuaded Pete to make the wait. There was lots to look at in the little gift shop/cafe, the young couple who owned and operated the place were charming and talkative, and there were two adorable puppies to play with in the yard – the time passed quickly.
Uma, those cinnamon buns! They were the best I have ever tasted. They were so good I felt like having a cigarette afterwards. Pete, not typically given to extreme expressions of delight when it comes to food, was almost indecent in his moans of pleasure. We sat in the truck and ate them warm and when we were finished licking our fingers Pete went back in and bought two more for the road.
I know a warm cinnamon bun would seem to be the last thing to put in a recently distressed stomach, but that piece of baked heaven cured me on the spot. From that moment I was entirely well again and the trip to Fort St. John and back was everything we both could have hoped for, especially since it included another stop at the Tetsa River RV Park.
On the drive home I read about GINKS, couples with Green Inclinations No Kids, and it would appear that Pete and I belong to this new category. While not being totally Green, we do have an inner Al Gore that demands some sort of nod to the environmental threat that is said to be affecting the planet. We have given up a meat-at-every-dinner diet, thereby acknowledging the climate crisis at the end of our forks, and we recycle, don’t use pesticides or known harmful household cleaners, etc. etc.
Since moving to the very northern part of Canada and setting up our first real home together, we have embarked on a learning curve vis-a-vis what and how we eat; this is no mean feat living in a place where fresh fruit and vegetables are impossible to come by unless one grows a garden, which we have tried to do with some success.
We generally avoid processed foods and refined sugars, though every now and then French fries and burgers are allowed. I realized I have gradually become rather strict about dietary pleasures, a common fault of GINKS perhaps because they don’t have kid food around to tempt them?
The result of this increased awareness is that we are rarely ill, which is why it was such a shock when I got so sick; my debilitation was and remains a bit of a mystery as there is nothing in particular in the way of viruses making the rounds in town these days and I had not eaten in a local restaurant for weeks. This is not to say dining locally is a guarantee of a stomach rebellion, but it has been known to happen, and not infrequently, if rumour and health inspectors reports are to be believed.
Whatever the cause, I can only be thankful for this recent brush with death. The cat has been put in her rightful place at last and I have found a reliable and delicious cure for whatever may ail a human body, or spirit for that matter. It’s been a good reminder, too, that for all the acknowledged lack of nutrition in things like baked goodies, there are times when going for the gusto is absolutely the right thing to do.
As soon as we were home, we broke out a bottle of wine to toast my return to health and well being. Amisi graciously joined us, sipping daintily at her teeny dish of wine. Though it was red and she prefers white, I took her participation in the celebration to mean she was going to accept the new order with good grace. As Pete lit candles and put on some romantic music, I tentatively scratched under Amisi’s chin. When she didn’t bite or claw me, I felt the first stirrings of a possible affection.
I think the folks at Tetsa River may have hit on the very thing to bring true happiness to all and sundry: the best cinnamon buns in the galaxy.
Let the good times roll.
Heather Bennett is a writer
who lives in Watson Lake.