snow & caterwauling

It snowed this morning for almost an hour. That may be a record for Chiswick this winter. None of it settled of course, this is London after all.

Something happened the other night - I meant to write about it but kept forgetting. There was a noise from outside the Belfry. Now this happens quite a bit, and in fact had been happening a lot that night. The groans of the various trees and their branches was reaching new heights. I swear there are times when it sounds like they're trying to open a door or window. But this sound was different. It was a cat. But the sound was not your standard meow. It was low. Like a double bass or baritone meow. It also didn't have the "ow" lift at the end of it. It was a single note. And it sounded like it was pretty close. So I got out of bed and shut the skylight over my desk, thinking that that was why it sounded so close. As soon as I was back in bed the bass meow without the "ow" (a figurative "ow", for the "me" sounded nothing like me) started again. It was coming from the window above my bed, the highest window in the Belfry. And then the noise changed and someone else joined in.

For the most part, when you think of noises that cats make, it's mostly meows and the occasional hiss. Think of these as the domesticated cat noises. In the grand scheme of animal noises, they're unique but pretty pedestrian. A hiss is a fair warning not to touch a cat, but hardly the stuff of nightmares. Cats have other noises though. Noises that remind you that they're a lot closer to their wild cousins than you really want to know about. I'm sure the two cats outside my window thought there were no humans about because they let loose some crazy scary demon noises. The bass "me" shifted down and could now not be called a note. The closest thing to describe it would be a growl, but if that's the case then a bulldog's growl is a mere falsetto in comparison. I thought it may be facing up to a fox, in which case I felt sorry for the fox (not for very long, they're bloody pests). But an answering gutteral growl came that ended in an unholy shriek and then dipped back down. And then they fought. Then they stopped and started again. It went on for about half an hour. Having been a bit of a nature documentary junkie of late my curiosity overwhelmed my need to sleep. The noise was frightening. Imagine the vocal range of a 10 year-old boy going all the way down to the depths of James Earl Jones or Louis Armstrong. Then imagine that it curdled with a liberal dash of hell. Gurgling growls, shrieks and then peaking in the odd hiss. It took me awhile to fall asleep.

Sure they're cute now... but wait until they learn to talk. Be afraid.