We searched all over for Pumkin. We drove around the mountain. We asked the neighbors if she'd been spotted. We went to the local animal shelter and looked for her. She had one of those ID chips implanted in her, but what we found at the animal shelter was that all they had were strange lost cats and three-by-five cards with descriptions of lost cats.
It was the middle of September and the weather had been beautiful, but all of a sudden it started raining and raining for days. I pictured Pumkin shivering somewhere out in the cold. I couldn't help but worry that she had been hit by a car and was dead by the side of the road somewhere. I even imagined that she might have been killed by a fox, or woodchuck. I had this crazy picture in my head of a fox prancing around the woods with Pumkin's bejeweled collar hanging around her neck.
The only good news was that Eve had truly stopped acting like a cat. But we were all sad and worried and as the weeks went by, less and less hopeful that Pumkin would ever be found. It was getting colder and colder outside and there was no sign of her.
I started to have dreams about Pumkin. It was like she was calling to me in my sleep. The longer she was gone, the more obsessed I became with finding her--and yet the less I believed that we really would. But then why did I keep dreaming about her?
Halloween was a few days away. It would have been her one-year birthday with us. While Eve stayed home with the babysitter, Lou and I went to New York City for the annual Hulaween party with Bette Midler for the New York Restoration Project. It was the year I was incredibly rude to Sting at the afterparty (I blame it on the cowgirl outfit I was wearing, but honestly, there is no excuse).
The next day, Lou and I were dozing off on the Bieber bus ride home from New York when my Blackberry rang...It was Eve.
To be concluded Friday...
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.