A very special cat……..
This is the true story about a precious gift that came to me on Christmas Eve, 1996, when I was living in Crickhowell, Wales. The gift came in the form of a little cat, a cat that was to change my life in many ways.
The day began as a normal one, but then at 6.30 pm a violent storm struck. All the cottages were left without power, except for mine, and so when the emergency crews arrived…they asked if I would keep my door open.
The three hundred year old cottage where I lived.
Across from my cottage was an old tree, where I would always see a lovely calico cat sitting on a branch….a cat that I thought belonged to my neighbour, Mr. Pickford.
Mr. Pickford – surrounded by magical hummingbirds……..illustration for children’s book – watercolour
During the storm, the little calico cat ran from the tree into my cottage for shelter. Of course I welcomed her and gave her a tin of tuna fish.
I knew that Mr. Pickford had gone away to visit his daughter, and so I put a note through his letter box saying that his cat was safe and sound with me.
After the emergency crews left, I settled down and the little cat snuggled close to me. On that night I managed to do these quick studies of her sleeping.
Two days later, Mr. Pickford returned and came to tell me that his little moggy was still in his cottage! We both agreed that his moggy and the cat that had now become very comfortable in my cottage were almost identical.
In other words, the cat I had seen sitting in the tree had not been Mr. Pickford’s cat.
I decided then and there to name the little cat, Christeve – so that I would always remember her arrival on Christmas Eve.
Illustration for children’s book – watercolour – Christeve sitting in the tree across from the cottage – needing to find a home of her own.
I learned that Christeve had belonged to another family who had moved three miles away two years earlier. Christeve kept returning to her old home…and so eventually the family decided that it was best that she be allowed to stay, rather than risk being killed on a road.
I learned from the family that Christeve had been given to them as a gift on Christmas Eve eight years earlier…..
Christeve the Cat being visited by magical hummingbirds.
Between her arrival in 1996 and October 2005, when I moved to London, I painted Christeve many times….and she became quite famous on both sides of the Atlantic.
Through Christeve, school children raised funds for all sorts of causes. Christeve became part of an educational programme showing children how all of life is interconnected and the importance of taking care of our environment.
One of many poster/illustrations where children would look for, and name the different animals….and of course Christeve was always part of the picture.
Eventually, I wrote a little children’s book, entitled Christeve the Cat finds her home. It is a book about hope and trusting in the unseen magic which is symbolised by hummingbirds. The story takes place in the Magical Town of Crickadoon.
I wish one and all a peaceful and loving holiday season.
For all those, especially children who have no home of their own, remember that the magical hummingbirds are always close at hand.
A very happy Christeve the Cat