Make voyages. Attempt them...There's nothing else. Tennessee Williams.
Our house, which is a very fine house if rather unfinished, perches at the top of a hill. It's not a particularly big hill but it is steep ~ & choked with bracken fern, a particularly sturdy & wiry fern, through which the iron bark & soap trees push & beneath whose deceptive green lurks rotting fallen tree trunks & potholes of the virulent & nasty kind to fall into.
From the house to the beach there is a winding path through bracken, which after so much rain, swishes as high as my shoulders & obscures the path ~ a path that after so much rain has washed away in places leaving it steep & slippery & in need of one of my sons with a mattock to chip some decent steps into the clay again.
Nasty things live down among the green stuff. Ticks of various kinds & shades. Rats, native & otherwise. Snakes. Goannas. When the boys are home the track is used daily. Without them Ditz & I only occasionally venture onto the waterfront if low tide co~ordinates with when we are feeling like some sunshine & a walk.
Marlow gazes into the green darkness from the safety of the verandah without any desire whatsoever to venture further but Kirby is my cat of another colour. From the first day he arrived & gazed through the big glass windows upstairs at the vast unexplored territory he could see beyond the glass partition his one desire has been to get out & expand his horizons.
Now even I can see the attraction for a cat of Kirby's calibre...but must he explore at night? Once it gets dark I call my cats home. Usually I do this right on dusk but occasionally it is somewhat later that this & the boys can usually be found in the side paddock pouncing through the grass at each other & having a delightful time. Kirby is however something of an escape artiste. While Marlow is happy to savour home comforts & snuggle in somewhere Kirby prowls the house seeking an escape route. If he happens to find one it might be some time before I notice he is missing.
Like most animals Kirby can usually be lured home by banging a spoon against his feed dish & arrives at a great rate of knots, loosing traction as he hurtles across the verandah in his rush to see what tit bit I am now providing. Guaranteed. Every. Single. Time. When no cat arrived at the speed of light I called. And called. And called some more. Eventually a plaintive meowing could be heard deep amongst the ferns. I called thinking Kirby would hone in on my voice & orientate himself to bring himself home. No such luck. The rotten cat was as lost as he could be & couldn't see enough to walk out of a paper bag let alone navigate the ferns in the dark.
I swiveled our outside lights down the hill & resignedly went to look for him. He was tangled in the thick fern roots but realising help was at hand desperately clawed his way towards me & when I picked him up burrowed into my neck in a flurry of relief. Lesson learned I thought.
No such luck. Barely a day later he was missing again, failed to arrive when his dish was banged & on calling him I was answered by a plaintive & desperate meowing, not, this time from deep within the ferns! Ditz & I looked at each other. It was pitch black & about to rain & although we could hear Kirby we had no idea where he was ~ except that where ever it was it wasn't close by. Eventually we realised he was right at the bottom of the hill, not even on our property but several along, & was calling frantically as he searched for a way back up the hill to us. Eventually he found the path but only made it halfway up the hill before getting stuck. Ditz, in high dungeon, had to go down & rescue him. He practically lept onto her & squirmed up her in his relief at being found & brought home, being roundly scolded by Ditz all the way. He seemed to like it & only purred louder nibbling her ear lobes while her hands were otherwise occupied pulling herself, with Kirby draped round her shoulders like a scarf, back up the hill.
Do I think he has learnt his lesson? Phuleese...he's a cat. The best I can hope for is he will grow enough common sense to find his own way home.