The Cat that’s Made from Mist

Some days it feels like I’m living in two different places, one is a beautiful oasis with views of the towns opposite, both in the valley and in the mountains, the other is a dismal shroud of nothingness. Some mornings we wake to this cloying shroud in the form of a thick mist that means we have zero visibility, it’s almost like living inside a cloud until the sun comes out to burn it off.


I guess the low lying mist becomes trapped in the basin of the valley, some mornings it’s so tangible you feel as though if you reached out to it, you could stroke it as it lies curled around the landscape like a large grey cat. We’ve not had the mist for a week or so, and today here it is again. The towns of Altino and Archi are obliterated, concealed by the grey nothingness. This benign blanket has no taste or scent, it just lies there like a sleeping cat, swallowing up the countryside.

The sun breaks through and the cat wakes, tendrils drift upwards as it stretches and I watch as it arches its back towards the skies and starts to dissipate. It’s unusual as you can actually see it dissolving, it sometimes looks like it’s running away from the warmth.


As the grey cat starts to move away the town below starts to come into view, almost like it’s in soft focus, in much the same way Cybil Shepherd was shot when she filmed the TV series Moonlighting: I never liked how she was always in soft focus yet Bruce Willis wasn’t, if anyone could have done with a bit of help it was Mr Willis. The towns in the mountains are very slowly revealed as the cat slinks off towards the west.

The mist almost looks like smoke as it rises in columns before disappearing slowly to expose the town of Archi, like a dogs hind leg balanced upon the ridge opposite.

Thankfully, the grey cat doesn’t visit often and when she does, she doesn’t hang around for too long.

Dog in a Tree

I was sat outside a day or so ago, just soaking up the last of the summer sunshine. As usual the iPod was shuffling and Devil Gate Drive by Suzy Quatro was playing, I looked across at Alf snoozing but there was no sign of Olive. Just above my head is a rustling in the fig tree opposite, I look up and see a black thing moving between the branches, is it a polecat looking for the now over-ripe fruits or worse a rat? No it’s Olive a small black terrier that today seems to have developed cat-like skills. I start to worry that she’ll fall onto our wood pile and do herself an injury, so don’t call her in case she becomes distracted and falls.

I watch as she deftly walks along the boughs to reach the figs, she grabs one and scoffs it in a moment and begins her descent, I wait until she’s on a relatively safe part of the tree, and see the shock on her face as I call her, telling her to get down. She gives me a, ‘what me’ look and hurries along the branch and jumps down, but not until she’s grabbed another fig from the tree.

She trots over to Alf, gives him a self-satisfied grin and I imagine her, like a playground bully saying to him, “Bet you couldn’t do that, could you, lanky.”


Olive, relaxing after her foray into the tree.

It’s Just You and Me

I feel like crap. It’s 03.45 and I should be asleep. I’ve had a couple of nights of sleeplessness lately. It has nothing to do with weather or alcohol or even too much sleep the previous day, it’s just happened of its own accord. Usually I’ve lain awake looking at the blue light on the light switch; designed to show a somnolent sleepwalker where the switch is and eventually dropped off. Tonight however is different, I’m dog-tired. Normally I’d apologise for the cliché, but I’m too tired to care. I’m desperate to sleep but it evades me.

I get up and wander about in the kitchen, I open and close the fridge looking for something: What that something is I don’t know. I stand outside and look up at the stars, the sky is different here than back in the UK, there are sparkles in the darkness that I cannot name. It’s not like when I was in New Zealand, and every star in the hemisphere was new to me, occasionally I’ll see something I recognise, but tonight I see nothing.

The sounds of the night are all around me, the clacking of bugs in the grass is getting more constant as the summer progresses, back in April there was hardly a click in the dark, but with the warmth comes the volume. A late firefly flashes and I despair for him, the season has passed so his chance of finding a mate now has seriously diminished. There’s the almost silent sound of a bat as it circles Domenico’s ruin and something scurries across my bare foot. In the light cast from the kitchen door I see a scorpion on my foot, my first reaction is to shake my foot, but I’m too tired, so watch it as it crawls off me. “It’s just you and me,” i say as it waggles its pincers in the air and scuttles away for the safety of the dark spaces.

I return to the kitchen and spend a few minutes checking emails and deleting spam, there’s no new notifications on Facebook; why would there be, with the exception of a few people in Australia, all my FB friends will be tucked up in bed. Nocturnal envy is not a good thing. I try to read, but my eyes hurt and my brain cannot process the words, so there’s nothing for it but to write this blog entry. Obviously heavily edited once my faculties kick in again. Will writing help me to sleep?100_6468-crop

Not a chance, as the words spill from my fingers I start to think about a feature I need to complete, an idea for my novel pops up and some new article ideas bounce around between my ears. This writing during my insomniac moment is not a good idea, as now my brain is whirring; clicking like the bugs in the long grass, all I need is an old fashioned typewriter bell to ping every sixteen or so words. I put the laptop away and crawl back into bed where the OH makes those noises of contented slumber, Should I aim a dig to the ribs in one of those selfish, ‘if I’m awake you should be’ moments? I decide not to and lie looking at the blue light again, waiting.

06.06, and I can bear it no more so I climb out of bed and put the kettle on and open the front door, the pizza eating cat is already here waiting for the off chance some human will toss it a morsel. I give it the bones from last nights lamb chops and it noisily crunches at them as the kettle boils and the OH stumbles into the room saying, “I had such a good sleep last night.” Inside my head I’m screaming, “You did did you. Well guess what!”

The only plus to this tale of an Englishman in Italy who was unable to sleep, is the welcoming clouds the following day.