Good Morning Villeray

Beyond the gate lurks some bones of contention...
I left the house early this morning to fight the urge. Instead of violating the unwritten code among neighbours with gardens, I headed down to Jarry to pick up some milk. I made a conscious effort not to think about those darling little faces.

In front of the Bonisoir, I met a middle-aged woman with large rectangular sunglasses, wearing shorts and a tank top. She stopped in front of me and held up a nail. "I find these everywhere," she said with an irritated shudder. "These things are what nailed our son Jesus to the cross." Speechless, I nodded and let her walk past.There was a large band aid on her shoulder and yellowish-brown bruises from what appeared to be the remnants of someone's fingertips, possibly hers. Fearing her annoyance might turn into an extended rant about the lord, I waited until I saw her disappear into the back of the store. As I picked up my milk, I thought about the dilemma that awaited me at home. My daughter would be standing at the door asking if she could feed them. But a good neighbour would not do this.

I've never lived anywhere with an alley before, but I have heard from friends that a few stray cats can quickly turn into a small feline farm. Two days ago, we discovered that a stray had had a litter of kittens just outside our gate. As my kids and I crowded around the tiny critters, a neighbour came over and told us that last spring there were 13 cats in the alley because a local renter had been feeding them.The neighbours had all bitterly complained about cat feces in their gardens, and the renter was threatened with eviction if she continued her "inconsiderate" behaviour.

Count the five darling faces
This morning I saw the mother cat outside the window of her former meal ticket. She meowed and scratched at the window, jumping back and forth from patio table to chair. I thought about the seven kittens that had not yet been weened and the mother with no food...

As I paid for my milk at the Bonisoir, I told the dark-haired cashier in a blue Italia T-shirt about the nail incident. "Oh her," she said, ringing in my order. "She's harmless. Believe me, there's a lot worse around here," gesturing with her head to a middle-aged man outside whose pants were pulled up to his ribcage. He was listening to an old radio held close to his ear and rocking to the music. "As long as they're not hurting anyone, I have no problem with them," she said handing me my receipt. "Yep, tolerance is key," I offered and waved good-bye.

I walked down the street enjoying the early morning sun trying to figure out how I could get some food to the mother cat on the sly. I could pitch a handful of dry cat food by the kittens, but what if someone saw me...If my daughter did it, the neighbours might be more understanding. It's hard for a child to understand that gardens are more important than kittens going hungry.

Fortunately, by the time I got home, my problem had been solved. My daughter ran to tell me that the mother cat had killed a squirrel. I laughed. Not only did the neighbours have cat shit to contend with, now there was a squirrel carcass.



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