"Mommy, why do cats hate mouses?"
I'm in the garden, kneeling in a penitent prayer-posture for my selfishness. [Bless me tomatoes for I have sinned...it's been more than a week since I knelt and weeded...] The heat is heavy and weighs hard against my back - the way it sweat-sticks my tank top - the soil is like dust. I wipe the back of my arm across my face to push away all those hairs that sneak from my ponytail and I leave a smear of bug spray on my lips.
"Ugh, sorry...what, Noa?"
We're separated by tomatoes and the retaining wall and she's crouched down, curious. "Why do cats hate mouses?" she asks again.
"Cats love mice!" I tell her, realizing that she's bent over the cat who is bent over the lifeless body of a poor little field mouse.
"But why did Pippin kill a mouse then?"
"He thinks it's food," I say. "He thinks it's delicious."
She stays there while I stand to stretch and I dump my pail of undesirables into the wheelbarrow. "Look, Mommy, he thinks it's a toy."
And I stop to watch him take the little grey body in his mouth and whip his head wild - it flies up double his height and he pounces on it again. Reenacting his crime.
And then he dines.
I return to my weeds but the pop and crunch of little bones reaches me and Noa is still and pondering. "He doesn't hate mouses?"
"Nope," I assure her. "He's doing exactly what God made him to do."
The porch door slams and Liam comes trundling out.
"Liam," Noa says, finally rising out of her crouch. "You won't believe it!"
"What?" Like he can't believe she could have discovered anything worth his attention.
"Pippin caughted a mouse," she announces. "And then he ated it!"
Liam comes running. "Where? Where's the mouse?" and he's searching the ground.
"It was right here," Noa tells him, pointing. "He must have eated the whole thing!" She looks around a little more. "Look, Liam - right there! Blood!"
"Whoa! AAAWWWEEESOME!!! Mommy, look! It's all shiny!"
"Cats reeeeeallly love mouses," Noa tells him.
"As if I didn't alweady know that, Noa!"
Pippin sits on the edge of the retaining wall, blood mustache, licking his gluttonous paws.
Noa wanders down into the garden and sits on the little bench I made out of bricks and slab wood. "Mommy?"
"Do you believe in rainbows?"
"Of course," I say. "Don't you?"
"Well, I never atch-a-lly sawed one," she tells me, "buuuuuut I still believe in them."
And Pippin settles his head on his paws and purrs.