African Tales – Feline frolics

February 24 – On one of our many transfers, our family moved to Rusangu, furnishings and all, in a mission truck. On that journey, our two cats somehow got out of their cage and one must have jumped overboard and was never seen again. The other one was found hiding amongst the furniture when we reached our destination. On this trip, we had to spend a night sleeping beside the road, with a big bonfire to light the area. During the night my parents were awakened by the coughing grunts of a nearby leopard, and one of the Africans arose and put more wood on the fire to scare the animal away. I slept through it all, and missed the excitement completely.

An African syringa tree

An African syringa tree

At another mission station, our home had a nice big syringa tree in the back yard, with a hedge around the back yard and a fence around the front. Everybody came to the house via the back entrance and used the back door. As I remember, the door included a screen door with most of the lower screen missing. To keep the house cool, the regular door was usually left open. Our fox terrier, Happy, used that hole in the door for his comings and goings, as did our cats and various other stray canines and felines looking for a snack. Dad shot a feral cat under the bathtub one night, though. It had been coming in and stealing eggs from our pantry.

One day I discovered a large, silk-lined hole in our yard, which was obviously occupied by a spider. I poured water into the hole until the spider was forced to come to the surface, where I captured it. It was a large, hairy tarantula, which I put into a big container for safe keeping and set it outside next to the house. When I returned later, our cat was sitting IN the container, with the tarantula hanging by its fangs from the cat’s eyelid! – DALE

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