I sit here, fingers on my computer keys, supposedly starting a new diary. A very annoying fly insists on swooping past my face every few minutes, and he is messing up the process. Where are the cats when I need them? I see Allen, snoozing on the upper reaches of the cat tree.
“Allen,” I coo to him, “Wouldn’t you like to come over here and catch this aggravating insect? You could have it for a nice chompy snack.”
He actually sits up and looks at me. “Actually, I prefer chicken. And I like it when you catch it for me, thank you very much.”
Meanwhile, Kiki is nowhere to be seen. Perhaps she is hiding from the fly. Not like Durango, my sweet fluffy puss from a long-ago time of my life. Durango was energized by seeing flies, would leap straight up in the air and catch one in her mouth, crunching it on her way down to the softly carpeted floor.
Actually, that kind of grossed me out at the time, but it would be nice if one of these delightful critters who currently share my home would have the same enthusiasm for dispensing flies. Oh, well…
Allen has now made his way down from the cat tree and jumped up on my chair.
“Hi,” I purr to him. Would you like to hear a story?”
“I would like to have some treats – the chicken kind, not flies. I’m not into flies. They annoy me.”
Sigh. I reach over and grab the bag of treats. I am amazed at how he can smell them right through the bag. His eyes flash and he moves closer. The fly seems to have disappeared. Perhaps the cat’s mere presence has frightened the fly, and, not wanting to take a chance on being eaten up by a feline predator, he has gone and settled somewhere else for a while. Good.
As Allen is munching on his treats, I see Kiki out of the corner of my eye, slowly padding across the room. She likes chicken treats, too.
“Now that you both are here and have nice treats in your tummies, would you like to hear a poem?” I ask them.
Allen’s eyes are half shut as he lounges, halfway on the arm of the chair and halfway on my arm. “Whatever,” he says.
“What kind of poem?” asks Kiki, lingering around my feet.
“It’s a short one, but it does have a cat in it.”
“Sure.” She leaps up on my lap. “Does this cat go on boat trips with birds like in the last one?”
“Well, it’s kind of a silly poem, and it’s not really clear what the cat is doing,” I tell them.
“Okay, then, let’s hear it.” Allen is sitting up now.
“Wait a minute!” Allen bristles. Whoever wrote that has a lot of nerve, calling me a diddle-diddle. I don’t like that very much. And what is a diddle-diddle, anyway?”
“Ha, ha, ha, I think it’s a great name for you.” Kiki sits there grinning at the thought.
Allen lifts up his paw as if to swat at her.
“No, no, no, no scrapping on my lap!” I admonish them.
“Oh, I was just going to use a soft paw,” Allen assures me, as he moves his paw down onto the chair, looking up as if that was what he meant to do, anyway. “Now, what about this diddle-diddle?”
I try to think of a good answer. “Well, this is kind of a nonsense poem. Perhaps the person who wrote it just wanted to make it sound silly. Or may he or she just wanted to find a rhyming word for the next line.”
“He or she? Don’t you know who wrote it?” Kiki looked at me with wonder.
“Well, it was written a long time ago. Some think it was actually originally written back in the sixteenth century, but it first appeared as a printed poem published by James William Elliott, in his 1870 collection National Nursery Rhymes and Nursery Songs. At that time, he thought it had been written in the 1700’s. The fact is, nobody really knows who wrote it or why.”
Allen commented, “Humans certainly are strange sometimes. They still talk about things that are very, very old. We cats are more interested in what is happening right now. Like treats and tuna and things to chase.”
“Hmmm…well, let’s look at the poem again, before that fly comes back to bug us.”
Hey, diddle diddle
The cat and the fiddle
“What is a fiddle?” Kiki always wants to know these things.
“It’s a musical instrument, sometimes called a violin. Maybe the cat was trying to play some music to entertain its friends.”
“But it says the cat AND the fiddle. So, it is possible that he didn’t know how to play it at all. Maybe he was in love with it or something. Now, that would be strange.” Allen this time.
Kiki licked her paw, then spoke up. “That’s kind of weird, Allen. On the other hand, I don’t understand how the cat could hold that stick in its paw. Yeah, well, maybe you’re right, although I don’t like to admit it. Why did the cat need that stick, anyway?”
“That stick is called a bow. It has strings on it, and the fiddle player runs those strings across the strings on the instrument to make the sound. And yes, I think a cat might have a hard time holding it in its paw.”
“Are the strings tied in a bow, like that little girl had in her hair the other day?”
“No, it’s a different meaning for bow.”
“So, so far, we have this diddly inane poem, with a cat who magically either hugs or plays a fiddle. What can possibly come next?”
I am almost afraid to tell them.
The cow jumped over the moon.
“Whaaaat?! You have to be kidding. How did that happen? No way!”
I have to admit that the image is kind of strange. “One illustrator thought it meant that the cow jumped over a reflection of the moon in a stream of water,” I offer.
“Even that is dumb,” Allen says. “I saw a cow once. Cows are REALLY BIG!”
“Yeah,” Kiki chimes in. “It doesn’t make any sense that a cow could jump hardly anywhere. Whoever wrote this poem must have had too much catnip to eatl”
I have to laugh. I always loved this nursery rhyme when I was little. It didn’t matter to me what made sense. I knew it wasn’t real.
The little dog laughed to see such sport
“Hah, no wonder. We would laugh, too, at all that silliness. That was one smart dog. Maybe he was there to dance to the music. Was anyone else there?”
“Well, apparently they had been eating, because then,…
And the dish ran away with the spoon.
“Hmm…Do you think it was a runcible spoon, like the owl and the pussycat had?”
“It doesn’t say it is.”
“Well,” Kiki muses, “If they were eating catnip with the dish and the spoon, maybe the dish and the spoon were a bit tetched, too.”
“But how could they run?” Allen is not convinced. “Did they sprout legs? If we eat catnip, will we grow extra legs?”
“Even with extra legs,” I tell them, “I hope you would never run away.”
“No way would we ever do that,” they mew in chorus. “Otherwise, we might not get any more yummy treats or tuna.”
They are by now both curled up on my lap and dozing off. I don’t know when I will be able to get up. That’s OK. I’ll just lean my head back and rest, too. But wait! Now that the cats are asleep, I hear the buzzing of the fly again.
Oh, no! I let my eyes go shut, trying to just be grateful that it is not a mosquito. Hah! There’s a scary thought!
And so, we end another tale. I hope you enjoyed the foolishness today. And I hope you love that poem just like I do, even though it makes no sense at all. Unlike a lot of what goes on these days, that nonsense seems kind of harmless.
Allen and Kiki and I and all of the critters wish for you a delightful week, with good weather to breathe and thrive in, and good health with which to enjoy it.
Oh, yes, and one final word from the good folks at rawpixel (and thanks to dmytro-tolokonov at pixabay for the background.)
‘bye for now!