The blogosphere lost a favorite netizen this week. We’ll miss you, Inkblot, master loll cat and patio prince.
It seems Inkblot was sent to cat heaven by a coyote, in the middle of a neighborhood where everything in your field of view in every direction except the sky is there because of a conscious human decision: Et in suburbia ego. We have strict zoning, building codes, design review, neighborhood associations, real cops and private security, neighborhood watch associations, home alarm systems – all the awesome powers of organized humanity – but nature has her ways, and creatures specialized for the edge of the forest (deer) and unspecialized creatures open to anything (coyotes, opossums, skunks, raccoons; cockroaches, Argentine ants, crabgrass, mosquitos) know a niche when they see one.
When we moved to Berkeley, we lived a half-mile downhill from the East Bay’s wonderful hilltop park reserve, and our standard poodle saw a splendid, sleek, six-point buck enjoying the rose bushes and some vegetables. The dog had met the occasional deer in Vermont, wild deer with traditional views of ungulate/carnivore relationships, and charged out to teach this one some manners. But this deer had learned what wusses Berkeley dogs are, and didn’t give an inch; confronted with a set of lowered antlers and a look that meant business, Winnie gave a whimper and hotfooted it back in the house.
Now we live in a more urbanized neighborhood, and we still have the odd deer bounding through backyards, a whiff of skunk on the night air now and then and, wonderfully, a half dozen wild turkeys who amble down the sidewalk every few months. Where the deer come out of the park, and I have seen them several times on the Cal campus, mountain lions follow, and coyotes are no longer unusual deep into settled areas. `It’s one thing to have your garden browsed by Bambi’s extended family, and another to be afraid to let your cat or cocker out. Vegan, peacable Berkeley, like a lot of suburban communities full of city slickers with romantic ideas about nature, is having some difficult moments recognizing what it means to live neither in the city nor the country.