Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Out on a Limb

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My husband went out on a limb today. Way out on a limb. Climbed the chestnut tree in our backyard with a dexterity that proves once and for all that man (but not necessarily women) evolved from apes. Three stories up, to give you an idea of height, if he were scaling the side of an office building in downtown Toronto. Climbing that tree was a spontaneous act. It’s not like he woke up and rolled over and said, okay, Marianne, this morning before I go to work, after I’ve shaved, and found a clean shirt and pants and matching socks (which isn’t always easy in our house), right when I’m about to leave for a meeting, I’m going to climb the tree in the backyard.

“Fearlessness,” Bob said, when I asked about the speed with which he made it up the trunk. “I had to act quickly, put all fear aside. If I didn’t, I was afraid I’d become paralyzed, stuck up the tree with the cat.”

Yeah, just imagine that – my husband and cat both stuck up the tree. But I could see exactly that happening, Bob being afraid of heights, and all.

So picture this, Bob makes it three-quarters up the trunk. The branches have narrowed, so he really can’t climb any higher without risking a branch breaking, and his crashing to the ground, and my becoming a widow. He’s not quite high enough to grab the cat, which by the way, is certainly not acting like her namesake, the fearless Hindu demon/goddess, Kali. The cat is huddled into a crook, making that little wheedling cat sound, and refusing to make an effort, to meet the tree-climber part way, to let go of her little corner of the world, and climb down a measly half metre.

So Bob extends his arm upward, and tips his head to one side, and starts calling to the cat, good kitty, good kitty. I can see what he’s doing, making himself part of the tree, hoping that the cat will climb down his arm as if it is a branch, and then use the top of his head as a steppingstone to his shoulder. But the cat, being a cat, isn’t going to trust just anybody. She starts to rub her scent on Bob. Did I mention that my husband is allergic to cats? As well as being afraid of heights?

I know, you’re probably saying that if a cat can climb up a tree, it can climb down a tree. Not this cat. We’ve tried that strategy before, left Kali on the neighbour’s roof for two full days until we finally caved in and rescued her. Rescued the lady next door from a cat meowing incessantly, pacing back and forth on the roof of her house.

So there they are, Bob and the cat, up the tree, getting friendly with each other, and I’m thinking YouTube, and wishing I had the video camera with me, and then feeling guilty because I would be thinking such a thing, at such a moment, that my first and only thought should be getting my husband safely back on the ground. But you know, I might have had that video clip to share with you on OpenBook, but then the cat made her move, and my husband made his move, and they both slid down the tree trunk, together.

I did my best to brush the bits of tree off Bob, the cat hair from his shirtsleeve, the dirt from his pants. Even so, he went to his meeting looking rather beat up. Now I know this posting has very little to do with books, or culture, or language, or literary events, or publishing and such, well, nothing to do with them at all, but I’m hoping you’ll cut me some slack, humour me a bit. I’m amused, anyway.

~ Marianne Paul

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Marianne Paul

Marianne Paul's is the author of the novels Dead Girl Diaries (BookLand Press, 2009), Tending Memory (BookLand Press, 2007), Twice in a Blue Moon (BookLand Press, 2007) and The Shunning (Moonstone Press, 1994). Her fiction, non-fiction and poems have appeared in publications such as Vox Feminarum, Cahoots, Canadian Author, Western People and The New Quarterly.

Go to Marianne Paul’s Author Page