Prologue: Retirement

I want to write this down, as I remember it, so I don't forget. Everything is already growing so fast - I want to remember how it began.     It was barely dawn when I awoke by the Cat Castle hearth. The Felis' Major House Party had begun to wind down. The castle in Kittering was still humming with the thrill of celebration. Not only had our House ascended from a Minor House, thanks to, well, a variety of factors but including achieving 2nd best among the Minor Houses of the recent tourney. There were so many things to celebrate that day. The Kitty Queen had founded the new Katze Ward to replace me. The trio of dedicated guardians, were excited to each take on one of the roles previously filled by the former catguard. No longer did I need to worry about housekeeping, kitchen management, and orgainizing the stacks.     I felt free. Contemplating sleeping in, I felt the emergent sun's presence even though its rays hadn't yet begun to warm the day. Changing my mind, I oozed from my basket near the hearth as a trail of orange ectoplasmic slime. I'm not proud of how I look first thing in the morning, and am often glad no one is up at the time I rise to see me compose my corporeal self. I stretched upward, gaining solidity with a struggle until mostly coalescing in my preferred appearance of an unfortunately short, stout bipedal cat. I buttoned my waistcoat and leaned on the cold stone windowsill. As I looked out at the sky I felt kinship with the cirrius clouds as they took on a similar hue to my own orange furlike spirit emanations.     "Today's the day," I muttered to myself. I patted the pocket where I'd formerly stashed my catguard shades. But those had been presented to the new knight-captain of the Katze Ward, as part of announcing my retirement. To instill confidence in myself, I plonked a nostalgic straw hat on my head. I began to quietly creep out of the Cat Castle, scribbling in my notebook as I went.     Soon, every community board in coffee shops and the public library of Kittering was pinned in an unassuming corner with the following handwritten notice:    
Looking for a Plot? break new ground
with Kittering Community Garden
dedicated volunteers needed
no combat literomancy skill necessary
Inquire with Basil (them), former catguard
South of Kittering Market Square
    I was more wistful than optimistic about the probable success of such rushed handwritten notices, but I thought it better than nothing.   I've found an old page of scribbles from my main notebook of that day - it's coffee-stained and full of surveying notes as I took account of the historic site, overgrown with ivy. The future site of Kittering Community Garden I'd discovered in some previously rambling explorations - walking helps me think, sometimes, and is good for the constitution. It seemed to be a long-abandoned formal garden space, with brick paths and raised beds all consumed by the invasive ivy.   I remember how good it felt to take a break from assessing the state of the allotted land. After a morning of surveying it was a respite to melt into a shadow cast by an overhanging tree, where I alternately snarfed a greasy parcel of food and slurped at steaming paper cup. My fountain pen flicked furiously in the notebook I'd propped on my knees, recording the observations of the morning and brainstorming new plans. From among the mind map appraising goals, queuing tasks, and weighing priorities, emerged a margin note: Queen would most likely appreciate catnip.  
The next morning, by the Cat Castle hearth, I awoke in my basket with a clang. Something melodically metallic had fallen against the stone of the hearth. I collected myself, orange ectoplasm coalescing like taffy; then hefted the green shield I'd fallen asleep under, which had slipped aside to cause the noise.   "I'm notĀ justĀ a florescent cat-popsicle anymore. I'm a Baron. With Master Gardening responsibilities entrusted to me. I'm going to promote food security and education... somehow, eventually. Yesterday was alright. It was a start. Not much, surveying, but still something. Today could be good too."     I hugged the shield to my chest with an elbow while fumbling my cotton-fringed notebook out of its side satchel. With a quick sketched diagram and notations, I shrank the shield into a fashionable brooch and pinned it to tmy neckerchief. Newly-made Baron Basil holstered their brown book. Then I scurried away towards work at the future site of Kittering Community Garden. ~~~
Journal, Personal


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