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Coffee with Chicory

During WWII, coffee rationing reduced availability of the beloved bean for household consumption. This was particularly true in England, where precious tea also made the list of limited items.

Someone got creative with coffee substitutes, of which roasted chicory (flowering herb) was and is used alone or mixed with coffee. But the Chicory to which I refer is no substitute. He is the bonafide semi-feral wild-child kitty I am poised to trap on the morrow and take in for necessary altering, vaccination and flea treatment. I feel like a low-down rat typing this. He’ll thank me later?

I had not decided on another pet. It was his idea. As a kitten, he sat on my deck batting his sleepy tiger eyes at me. No choice existed but to care for this little munchkin. I was reeled in, apparently as hungry as he. We both tried to appear nonchalant, but he was better at it.

Since then, I’ve learned his favorite foods. He enters the laundry room for eats, and I’m allowed to give pets. It’s a fair exchange for now, but I must leave the door ajar. He goes a little nuts when he feels trapped. I get it.

I grab my morning coffee and sit with him on the back steps while doling out his daily love and admonitions. Recently, Chicory-Chic crawled on my lap, laid his head down and purred as if weary of his world of fear and mere survival — my interpretation, but he seems to relish the temporary security.

He’s a small cat and vulnerable to big cats, big owls, fleas, ticks, overly doting women and especially the endless parade of traffic on our street which, despite my warnings, he sometimes dares to saunter across.

When he’s had his fill of food and comfort, he’s off as if an alarm inside his little feline brain sounds. We gaze at one another — he from atop boulders surrounding the former pond and I from behind the back door screen. I’m sure he wonders why I don’t join him on his outdoor adventures and insist on remaining in the large wooden box. I wish I could explain how swell he would have it if he dared join me in my world.

I watch Mr. Stick, his other name, saunter off across the street, a little bowl-legged but purposeful. He thinks he’s big. I say a prayer he’ll be OK until we can work this whole taming thing out. I wish drivers would care about a little skinny cat and go slower.

Tomorrow, like any good mom, I will do my best to fool him. He needs to go in the trap, and I wish I had a pair of leather gauntlets in case he needs encouragement, since I’ve never tried picking him up. I dread this.

Chicory is a ray of filtered sunshine. Even if things take a bad turn, I’ll know I gave him good food, all the affection he can presently take, and the best of intentions.

Speaking of sunshine, here we are entering the third helping of a three-course, spicy summer spread and I haven’t whined about heat yet. I’m too weak. The AC works great, but I know that unbearable temperatures lurk just outside my door. And smoke flutters in some days, preventing walks and open doors and windows to let in cool mornings. But wasn’t Tuesday a delight? Cool and rainy, just the way true Oregonians love it.

I put out water for birds and other wildlife that frequent Dover Refuge. It’s dry in them thar hills. Deer come down to the creek. They cross the street with their fawns. Even nomadic turkeys are parched and find a cool drink at the ol’ watering hole. I wonder what the gossip is as they loiter around the water cooler. By the way, I’m taking orders for smoked Thanksgiving turkeys. You know me better than that.

I need to move to the country.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer/author. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.