Brian looks for a geocache, but finds a courageous cat instead
So, I'm going to warn you going in: When we get to the end, it isn't going to be funny anymore. Sort of like Herb Bergson's term as Duluth mayor. But something happened to me last week that I wanted to share with all of you, so I hope you'll indu...
So, I'm going to warn you going in: When we get to the end, it isn't going to be funny anymore. Sort of like Herb Bergson's term as Duluth mayor. But something happened to me last week that I wanted to share with all of you, so I hope you'll indulge me.
As I have mentioned in previous columns, my family loves geocaching.
If you haven't heard of it (and judging by the quizzical looks I have received when
I have mentioned it this summer, not many have. But then again, I have received a lot of quizzical looks this summer, so maybe it's not geocaching ... maybe it's my musty, too-tight AlBrook Falcon purple gym shorts I wear from May 'til September ... nahhhh, must be geocaching), here's the deal: it's a worldwide phenomenon where people hide different-sized canisters, or caches, all over the place, and you use a GPS unit to find them. The caches can be any size -- from a microscopic magnet to a large metal box --
and it's a ton of fun.
Last week, we decided to take a day- trip and spend the day geocaching up County Road 4 between Duluth and
Biwabik. Now, this highway is goofy; it can't figure out who it wants to be. If you look on the map, it's also known as Rice Lake Road, the Vermilion Trail, and the Rudy Perpich Memorial Highway. It's a long, winding journey takes you every-
where and leaves you nowhere. Sort of like Gary Doty's term as Duluth mayor. But Sue, Kaylee and I sure did have an adventurous day.
We saw a group of four fat birds that resembled a combination of peacock and wild turkey stumbling across the road. As we slowly passed them, these weird-looking bird things squawked and started to waddle/chase after us. We thought they were going to eat our truck. It was terrifying, until we backed up over all four of them with the Blazer (I'm kidding). Found out later they were called guinea hens, which is an appropriate name because they did taste like chicken (still kidding. Probably.).
We also had to do an enormous bout of bushwhacking as we searched for all the caches, even more than normal. Whoever hid these things had a mean streak, because they were all pretty much buried deep in the bowels of the forest, with no discernible trail in or out. At one point, I had to go all "Indiana Jones" and brush an enormous spider with legs the size of pretzel sticks off of Sue's back. Luckily she didn't get a look at it or we'd never get her out of the house again. We were also under constant attack by buzzing hordes of deer flies that seemed to be ears, eyes, and throat specialists because that's where they spent most of their time.
But despite the odd birds, the jungle-like atmosphere and the killer deer flies, we had a fun day exploring an area that we had never experienced before. However, there was one discovery we made during the day that really shook us up.
In the middle of the woods, next to an overgrown path that barely existed, we came across a beautiful orange tabby cat. At first we thought it was dead because a house cat was the last thing we expected to run across out in the deep forest. When I peered closer, though, I noticed it was breathing. It didn't have any marks indicating it had been attacked and dragged there, and it didn't appear to be in any pain because the breathing was easy and relaxed, not raspy or ragged. The cat was lying there comfortably on its belly and appeared to be deep in slumber, with its head down on its front paws and resting peacefully. We called out softly to it, to see if maybe it needed some help, but it didn't respond at all. It was eerie.
It seemed to be an older cat, so we came to the conclusion that it must have gone deep into the forest to die. I had heard that cats do that but I had never actually seen it. We felt like we were invading its privacy and interrupting something intimate, so we slowly backed away and hiked back out to the highway. By the time we reached the truck, Sue and Kaylee were crying and I have to admit, I teared up myself. The experience was incredibly sad and moving. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it, and I have to say, I am in awe of that cat. What a powerful last decision to make. I hope its last few hours were peaceful.
If you live somewhere back in the country on County Road 4, and you are missing your cat, please know that it wasn't attacked by a predator or hit by a car. Instead, your friend was able to make his own final, brave decision and was resting comfortably in the deep, quiet forest of Northern Minnesota the last time I saw him.
May we all have the ability, and the courage, to face the end like that beautiful orange tabby.
Brian Matuszak has been difficult and demanding since February 2008. He is the co-founder of Renegade Comedy Theatre, founder of Rubber Chicken Theater, and despite all of the above, he and his family still enjoy geocaching.