It is Spring’s threshold. Green stalks and bright buds peek out from piles of leftover autumn leaves, golden-copper, crisped, sometimes translucent from winter’s wear.
I witnessed another threshold last week.
I should already have been at work, dozens of miles away.
An errand took me to a well-traveled road. My gray Honda (Slate: surely I’m not the only one who names vehicles?), was third in line when a beautiful gray cat dashed in front of the first car.
I held my breath.
Then the cat ricocheted off the car’s front fender. I cried out a long “No!” and pulled to the side of the road, as did the driver of the car between us. He had the composure to call the local police.
The cat was still alive, jerking its limbs, trying to rise from the asphalt. I knelt down with bare knees on the cold cement and a put my hand on her side. She shook violently at first. She expelled some blood from her mouth and I noticed I was kneeling in an oddly square pool of bright blood that had already soaked into the road.
Other cars whooshed around us, leaving a wide berth.
As I stroked her she stopped shaking and seemed to calm. She settled on her side and held out her front paws, crossing one over the other and stretching out as if preparing to nap in the sun, though there was none on that frigid, windy morning.
She had been well-cared for and likely was someone’s pet.
She died after a few minutes, and when the animal control officer arrived he found weeping humans who had no idea whose animal this was. I didn’t want to stop stroking her fur and talking to her. The officer spoke to us kindly, lifted her body gently, and told us he would check for a microchip and try to find the owner.
To the owner of that cat: please know that when she died, she was calm. Strangers took care of her and will not forget her.
When I got back in my car I realized I was holding my right hand palm up towards the gray sky. My fingers were covered in a patina of red-orange blood, streaked more heavily across the fingertips.
As I was driving away I noticed another car pulled over to the side of the road ahead of me. An older woman was bent over the steering wheel, sobbing.
I wish I’d stopped to comfort her.