The Adventures of Biking a Cat to the Vet

12 May

(Before I get into what happened last week, I’m going to get heavy and serious for a few words. Hang with it.)

Yeah! We’re winning! We’re winning!

We’re kicking ass in emissions from burning fossil fuels. The following is in billions of metric tons of carbon dioxide.

USA 95.4  (gold)
Russia 38.9 (silver)
China 33.9 (bronze)
Japan 24.4
Germany 22.7
UK 20.1
India 9.7
France 9.4

I’m not a scientist. But I do read. Here’s what’s going on in the atmosphere:

the concentration of climate-warming carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has passed the milestone level of 400 parts per million (ppm).

Here’s an excellent column from the same publication on this milestone.

Here’s why I care about this: I have two young daughters who might well have their own children. Their children might have children. And on and on. My life philosophy is based on fear that something horrible will happen to my descendants due to how we’re living today and how humans in the western world have been living since the industrial revolution.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be dead before the real terror begins, but I have a good imagination and I already love my great, great, great grand kids.

That’s part of the reason Ainsley and I used bicycles to take our big cat, Trouble, to the vet last week. We hooked the flatbed trailer to my recumbent trike, strapped a giant storage container to the trailer, and then lowered the cat crate into the bin and set off for Edwardsville Pet Hospital.

After he received his shots and we forked out $92, we had an unexpected adventure outside when we noticed a little black boy in ill-fitting clothes walking down the sidewalk, unattended. He was heading towards busy-as-hell Buchanan Street, so we pedaled over to follow him.

My heart pounded as he reached Buchanan and turned the corner around a building out of our sight. When we reached the corner he was approaching a particularly dangerous area where people drive too fast and where they enter and exit a busy little shopping center. I yelled at him to stop and, amazingly, he did. I motioned him over away from the road into the landscaping.

Where’s your mommy or daddy? 

Mom left.

Did you leave your house without telling anyone?


Where are you going?

To find John.

How old are you?


What’s your name?

It’s all right.

I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you. What’s your name again?

It’s all right.

Either he was telling me it was okay that he was wandering around downtown Edwardsville by himself or I didn’t understand what he was saying.

A truck pulled into the parking lot.  They had seen him walking alone too. A woman asked him the same questions. We learned his house was green.

We called the police.

We pedaled away shortly after they showed up and were stopped twice on our way home by concerned citizens in the neighborhood: a group of old men sitting outside at a donut shop who had watched the police arrive and then a cosmetology student around the corner who had heard a rumor of a missing child.

This was not a fun experience, but it made me think about our involvement and how it would have differed if we had driven our cat to the vet like normal people.

Would we have noticed the boy walking down the sidewalk? If so, would I have followed? Would we have been stopped to get the scoop afterwards? The answer to all three could be no, sadly.

Automobiles keep us sealed away from the real heartbeat of the community. We’re going too fast to notice much of what’s going on. We fly by all kinds of interesting and important things.

So, sure, we didn’t add to the pollution that day, but it turned out to be another example–it happens over and over–to confirm that there’s something special about exploring our community on bicycles, outside of the cage, at a comparable snail’s pace.

Note: I assume the police quickly figured out where the little boy lived, but I have a sinking feeling that there’s some less-than-optimal care and nurturing going on inside those walls.

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