The sliding glass door opens to my patio. Dog beds scatter the cracked stone floor while leaves skitter across, stopping only for a detour around a chair, a table, anything in their way.
Seconds ago rude birds intruded on the mornings silence in cacophony almost painful to the ears. Now it's quiet. Cat on the prowl? The birds have no respect for the four small patio dogs, knowing their jumping skills are limited to the dining room table when no one is looking to guard a cake left in the middle, a wedge cut out perfectly for a snout to forage in.
There once was a Jack Russell Terrier on the patio who, in his youth, could snag a bird mid-flight, faster than an eye could blink he'd have a grin on his doggy face and feathers out each side of his mouth. He's long gone, beyond bird memory, and when he was on this patio he was too old for bird-snagging, slow with arthritis and half blind with age. No, must be a cat on the prowl.
The school across the street is quiet. No singing, no children's voices lilting "Frere Jacques" over the fence and across the street. Quiet. Where have the birds gone?
A car passes in the street. One of those non-bird-catching dogs jumps on a tarp protecting the outdoor loveseat. It's plastic creaks and crumples in complaint. Somewhere close, maybe a block or so away, a loud bang breaks the silence left by birds. Backfire? Firecracker? Gunshot? Neighbor dogs bark up and down the fraccionamiento, but the patio dogs are silent. They save their voices for skateboarders. The bang must be too far away, outside their zone to protect.
An electric saw rumbles nearby. Could be home repair. Maybe a new roof to brave the winter rains? Maybe a new house bringing a new family to a once empty lot. New dogs to join the Hound Chorale as they stake their verbal claim.
But cats challenge both birds and dogs in the contest of who or what makes the most noise. Late at night, on the verge of sleep, lights out and two patio dogs snuggled close, the howling, yowling, crying, screeching begins. Generally close—outside my bedroom window. For some reason unknown to me, my corner attracts skateboarders and fornicating cats. The skateboarders own the day, the cats the night. Thankfully, the dogs remain respectfully quiet when the cats sing. Perhaps they are jealous or maybe enjoy vicariously the thrill of mating. Perhaps they don't give a fig about cats.
One day we had a feral kitten in the bushes. It was thrown there by someone. To feed the dogs? Maybe they thought with four dogs one cat wouldn't be noticed?
Two days, two friends, many scratches and several cat traps later this three-quarter pound angry soul was out of the planter and into a home where it was appreciated. Neither the dogs nor I appreciate cats. It was cute, as kittens can be. No thanks.
Still no birds. An occasional car. Children's voices chatter far in the distance. A loudspeaker on a truck chants its presence in and out of hearing. The saw quiets. My coffee cup is empty. Time to take a shower. No patio concert to miss.