This is Sam, aka Samantha, perched on our top deck, up on the railing, surveying her back yard.
Maybe looking at turkeys down the hill, or squirrels, or just contemplating her universe.
Sam was five or six weeks old when she came into my life. Full of spunk and curiosity (as are all kittens), she was all black except for a few white hairs on her chest. I kept her anyway.
A week later came Milo, all black, a bit smaller as a kitten but, then again, he was a week younger than Sam.
At the time they were Sam and Molly. But, as Kim informed me after I returned from a short business trip, Sam was a girl and Molly was a guy, so they became Samantha (still our Sam, though) and Milo.
But this is about Sam.
Sam taught herself how to hunt. It wasn’t part of my job description. For some reason known only to her, she started off with earthworms.
I’d come home from work to find two or three worms on the hardwood floor, with Sam carefully watching over them. She wouldn’t hurt them, at least not intentionally, so a lot of them were returned to the wild, i.e., the backyard dirt.
As Sam became more proficient she started bringing in night crawlers. Where she found them, especially during summer days, baffled me. Maybe they were in the ivy out front or in my neighbor’s beautifully maintained garden. Happily the neighbor never complained about Sam — Sam was pretty good at using her own litter box.
The progression continued. Still as a young cat, or old kitten, Sam would begin bringing home snakes. I became pretty adept at finding them because it was an almost daily occurrence. Their favorite spots for eluding Sam were under the base of a floor lamp and under my cedar chest (once Sam grew big enough to not be able to get under it herself).
The snakes were easy enough to rescue (Sam was just bringing home friends to play, not devour, and the snakes would simply curl up once out of Sam’s reach).
Then came, along with snakes, the lizards. Sometimes blue-belly lizards, sometimes alligator lizards (like Larry). Lizards are quick little creatures, not like the coiled, seemingly dormant snakes in hiding.
We didn’t even know there were snakes and lizards in our neck of the woods until Sam started bringing them home. Squirrels, turkeys, deer — yes. Our neighbors didn’t know we had snakes and lizards, either, until they saw Sam’s little friends.
It wasn’t long before we had shoe boxes strategically placed upstairs and down for whatever new surprise Sam had for us that day. I’d come home, see a shoe box in the middle of the floor with a book on top to weigh it down, and know Kim had found the latest treasure for me to release back into its natural habitat.
The fun times were when I would lift the top of the shoe box and there wasn’t anything there. Then the search was on, and sometimes we wouldn’t find the missing lizard until the following spring, in our closet, in one of Kim’s shoes.
Sam did progress to include warm-blooded critters in her repertoire — mice, bats, birds, and once a chipmunk which provided us with loads of entertainment as I tried to catch it.
Sam was with us for 17 years, Milo just shy of that. We miss them both very, very much.