If only SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 eviction moratoriums applied to feral felines, the habitat of Mimi and Sweet Pea would not have been utterly destroyed. The luscious, and humungous, yard they shared was intact a few days ago—my wife and I can’t recall if Tuesday or Wednesday (today is the only Friday the 13th of the year). This morning, we peaked in—shocked to see nearly complete clearcutting.
The saga starts as we walked along the alley separating Alabama and Florida. As we moved down the block between Monroe and Madison, I saw a kitty beyond the cross street going towards Adams. From the coloration, and our recently seeing Pace (pronounced paw-chay, according to his owner) in the vicinity, I assumed it must be the aged Norwegian Forest Cat. Oddly, though, the animal disappeared and reappeared, as if going into and out of different backyards along the alley.
Moments later, no putty-tat visible, we looked across the backyard in disbelief. Then in her periphery, Annie saw movement behind trash cans, and she pointed to one of the ferals hiding beneath a car parked across the alley from her old home—the one called Mimi, and mother of them all. She originally had four kittens on the property about eight years ago. I featured two as adults in my “Cats of University Heights” series—the aforementioned Sweet Pea and Tigger, who has since passed away. A neighbor who wasn’t the homeowner had them all neutered, and she put out food and water for them.
But the homeowner passed away sometime in late 2020; I don’t know if from Coronavirus or something else. The house sits on a huge lot, where someone could build apartments or condominiums. The cats’ caretaker continued feeding the lovely longhairs while the property’s fate was to be determined. I just assumed that his family would sell the place as is, leaving the fate of the lush backyard and tidy, trim front lawn to the buyers.
After we returned to our place, Annie did some quick sleuthing: On Aug. 9, 2021, the property listed as a “Probate Auction”, which will take place on September 11. Starting price: $549,000. The listing encourages: “Possible development site”. I presume the agents handling the sale expect the buyer to do nothing less. Why else clearcut shrubs and trees—even the backyard’s lovely grass is decimated?
Let’s discuss the photos, and there are many (file sizes are large, so they may be a bit slow loading in your web browser). The Featured Image is the alley-side yard as Annie and I saw it today. Vitals, aperture manually set for all: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 9:02 a.m. PDT.
The next two pics show the same location before deforestation. That’s Sweet Pea in the second, snapped on May 29, 2021. Vitals: f/11, ISO 160, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 10:45 a.m. Modest clearing had started, then stopped. The third, from April 8, 2020, shows the backyard before the homeowner died and the space clearly cared for. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; 9:59 a.m. That’s Burglar, by the way, posing. I saw him just yesterday on Alabama Street, coincidentally.
To the right along the fence, as seen in photo two, plants and trees grew. In photo four, taken today, only a few stumps remain. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 3:47 p.m. Number five looks at the same spot, where Mimi hides. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/309 sec, 52mm (film equivalent); 1:51 p.m. PST, Jan. 26, 2021. This is one of two pics in the set shot with iPhone XS. The others come from Leica Q2.
The sixth shows the front yard as it was this afternoon. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 3:50 p.m. The seventh—the other image from iPhone XS—is a look back before massive trimming that seems almost intended to make the property look run down, unlike its condition just days ago. Sweet Pea and Pace share space on Sept. 6, 2019. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 50, 1/112 sec, 52mm (film equivalent); 7:35 a.m.
Photo eight gives glimpse at how much more dowdy the property appears, with the ladder foreshadowing more devastation ahead. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, 28mm; 9:08 a.m., today. In the last (same vitals but 1/320 sec), the sign is punctuated pronouncement of loss. Less than a year ago, a gentleman lived in this home. Occasionally, I would see him and offer greeting. Earlier this week, two Maine Coons called their territory the backyard where he let them be. No longer.
Update, Aug. 16, 2021: I spoke with the executor of probate, who says the clearcutting started six days. Please see “Why the Maine Coons Lost Their Home” for full explanation.
Update, Sept. 3, 2021: Annie and I saw Mimi outside the building next to her old home, on Florida Street. Her daughter Sweet Pea is unseen, so far. Their previous residence goes up for auction in 11 days. Photo vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, 28mm; 4:54 p.m. PDT; Leica Q2.