SATURDAY’S CHILD: It is so hot . . .
Among cellphones, computers and all the other things that I did not have when I was young, there is one that stands out. It is summer.
We were taught in school that we were in the tropical zone and had a rainy season and a dry season. We were forced to learn that countries in the temperate zone had four seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter. Now, it seems, that we have summer without the advantages or disadvantages of spring, autumn and winter. In those days when we had no summer, spring was something in a car or a Simmons bed fall was when you hit the ground, most likely running; and winter was in the cards – the Christmas cards.
I remember going on a school outing to a place called Maracas where we were told there was a spring. All I saw was some water flowing out from the rocks at the roadside. I was like the kid who went to the village cinema to see a movie called The Passion Play and came out complaining, “Passion? What passion? Joseph didn’t even kiss Mary.”
For those who call this period of the year “summer”, it is a long, hot summer reminiscent of the movie based on the works of William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams. It is so hot that Dick Cheney is water-boarding himself; two trees are fighting over a dog; farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them for laying hard-boiled eggs; hot water comes out of both taps; the cows are giving evaporated milk; the radiator in my car is boiling over and I haven’t started the engine yet; and a fire-hydrant was begging a dog to urinate on it.
Speaking of dogs and Tennessee Williams (author of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof), climate change, record temperatures in Europe and elsewhere, and a bunch of feral cats, we get a story out of France that is as weird as the weather. According to the Independent newspaper, a gang of feral cats in France attacked a woman and her poodle, forcing both victims to seek medical attention for their injuries. The cat attack occurred Sunday, July 21, near the city of Belfort in eastern France. The 31-year-old woman was walking her dog near a wooded area when six felines set upon her, knocking her to the ground. The victim was treated for injuries at a nearby hospital, where she was also given an injection for rabies. The cats bit the woman on her arms and legs, leaving deep scratches. They even pierced an artery. It was catastrophic and she almost became catatonic.
Nobody is sure what caused the cats to behave so aggressively. Some people feel that the extraordinary behaviour was caused by a heat wave. Clearly dogs in heat behave differently from cats who are under the weather. The only time that cats and dogs get together is when it is raining heavily and both are caught in the downpour. Other people say that cats are territorial animals and were protecting their territory from the dog. The woman just happened to be in the way. But how did the cats know what to do? They started from scratch.
Research shows that there are more cats than dogs in the United States but both can live together without the extreme animosity displayed by the feral French felines. A 2008 study published in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science found that if cats and dogs are introduced when the cat is under six months old and the dog under a year, the two species can coexist in peace. Interspecies clashes may be nothing more than a breakdown in communication, the study found. For example, averted eyes signal aggression in a cat and submission in a dog. The animals introduced early on seemed to understand each other’s signals, the researchers found – almost as if they were bilingual.
At the same time, new research has confirmed the validity of Schrodinger’s Cat, a thought experiment suggesting a cat can be both alive and dead at the same time. This is all part of quantum mechanics (or quantum physics), which is essential to understanding the behaviour of subatomic particles. Even though I am much heavier than any particle, I find myself wilting in the heat wave that we are now experiencing in Antigua and instead of attacking a dog and its owner, I feel more like Schrodinger’s Cat, simultaneously dead and alive. In fact, I just saw a dog chasing a cat and they were both crawling.
• Tony Deyal was last seen saying that Antigua is so hot that he bought a loaf of bread from the supermarket and by the time he reached home it was toast.