I am finally recovering from my cabinet-jumping, foot-breaking accident a few weeks ago.  For a while it was difficult to determine where the break actually was as everything hurt. The whole foot has been swollen and bruises bloomed and faded. There is a lump at the center of the ball of my right foot.  It’s tender there and at the same place on the top. It’s obvious now that the fourth toe is the injured one. The others taper again, as toes should, from their cushioned pads to their thinner tethers.  The fourth is puffy with its pain.
        I am back to reading on the porch, which for the last few weeks has been too hot, too sticky, too buggy.  Now our weather is cool in the morning and we are reminded, the hundred degree heat hopefully behind us, that we Midwesterners do love the distinctness of our seasons. Soon we will have fall.  This week I whisked the crumbs of the squirrels’ breakfasts from the cushions – they will have an easy winter as the walnut tree has been generous – and wiped the dust from the table where I prop my foot, to which I am both apologetic and resentful.
        I’ve made few accommodations to my foot, treating it like a deadbeat relative who has stayed too long.  I convinced myself that yoga is important for the greater good of mind, soul and backside and ignored the possibility that my short-term vanity will have long-term repercussions. I acknowledge only in passing that the duck-footed limp may remain.  
        I have, however, stopped walking the dogs.  We still stroll in the evening and it placates them, but we all miss the brisk pace and the long strides of our morning walks. Still, I can’t.  It’s not wisdom or taking care. Very simply, it hurts too much. So they sit with me on the porch in the new cool of the morning and read the paper and watch the squirrels a little more carefully instead.
        For the last few days we have been an audience to the routine of a small black cat in our neighborhood. She is completely black, her gleaming coat unblemished by blaze or socks.  At first, I thought she was a half-grown kitten, but a year and a half later she is the same size. She is the Audrey Hepburn of cats.
        We know one another in passing, though I don’t know where she lives.  I see her up and down the block, but not only in one spot and never off of it. She darts under bushes as I walk by with my beasts. While I admire her sleek, youthful looks, I silently curse her; I believe she is the one who tears the bottom of my trash bag each week, though I don’t know it for sure, so I never say anything to her about it.
        I’ve seen her hunting the last few days. Saturday she came down the driveway of the house across the street.  As she emerged from behind the hedge I could see that she had something her mouth.  It was small and pale and I wondered if someone’s pet had met a tragic end.  Then I assumed it was probably a young rabbit.  Her head high, she moved with a quick clip, not hurrying, but purposeful.  She reminded me of myself in my first grown up job.  My new suits and high heels added to a preening gait through the corridors of a place that made me think I’d really done something to get there.  I watched the cat travel through two yards and disappear behind a house that may or may not be hers. I wondered if she’d eat the bunny or simply let it go as I did the job that I’d been so proud to catch.
        Yesterday, she came from behind the same house with the some unsquirming something about the size of my fist held firmly in her teeth.  It might have been a rather hefty chipmunk, which, too, had been feasting on walnuts for his now-unrealized winter plans. Though he was larger than her head, she had no trouble holding him.  Was he dead, I wondered, or playing along while he planned his escape? She leapt a short brick wall and carried him around back for breakfast or mercy; only the two of them know for sure.
        I watch her, but she is, I think, ignorant of me here on the porch, hobbled, envying the ease of her escapades.