(aka Percy-poo, Tushy Girl, Purrrrr-sephone)
I have a penchant for goldfish. I was browsing the goldfish at my local Mom & Pop pet store when I overheard the owner and a patron discussing the new kitten someone had found. In those days, people brought neighborhood strays to Pete, the owner, and he'd get them checked out by his vet friend in New Jersey, then adopt them out of his store for $10 to cover his gas money.
He described discovering a scrawny kitten alone in the basement of the corner bodega. Apparently she was separated from or abandoned by the mother and litter and had been scratching through the food stored down there to survive. She squinted constantly, as she'd never seen the light of day before they plucked her up from the depths.
I listened intently to the tale, having lost all interest in goldfish. I had been ruminating over the possibility of getting a second cat to keep Aesop, my pound-rescue-first-cat-ever, company while I was off at work. I asked Pete if I could see the kitten.
He went down into the store's basement and emerged cradling a mass of fur in one hand. She was that small and bony and terrified. I took her into my hands and she immediately curled herself up in a ball, tucking her head into the crook of my neck, eyes jammed shut. I told Pete I'd take her, but wanted a second opinion, so I ran home and dragged my girlfriend up Amsterdam to check out this quivering feline. She fell in love instantly, too.
It was the first day of Spring 1995. This frightened little princess, who had been trapped in the Underworld, was brought up into the light, bringing with her the Vernal Equinox and a lot of sunshine into our lives. How could I _not_ name her Persephone [per-sef-uh-nee]?
Remember that Greek Myth? Persephone, the fair daughter of Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest/Earth/Grain, was out picking flowers one day when Hades, God of the Underworld, opened the Earth and swept her down into his depths to make her his Queen of the Dead. Demeter was inconsolable without her daughter by her side, and mourned angrily, wreaking Winter on the land; no one would harvest fruit or joy while Demeter was without her beloved girl. The people of the land cried out starving and Demeter pleaded with Zeus, Persephone's father, to wrest the girl from his errant brother Hades. While down in the Underworld, Persephone refused to eat but reluctantly served as the dark Queen, welcoming the newly dead below. Hades enticed her to eat some Pomegranate seeds, and she finally did. When Hermes arrived, a messenger of Zeus to return Persephone to her mother, the terrible truth that Persephone could no longer be of either world permanently, was realized. Persephone, having eaten the fruit of death, could only return to Demeter for 8 months. Because she had eaten 4 Pomegranate seeds, she had to return to the Underworld and Hades for 4 months. It is those 4 months when Demeter mourns and brings Winter upon the land, then rejoices when the Earth opens up again and delivers her daughter home, bringing Spring and blossoming anew.
My Persephone came from the bowels of New York City on the first day of Spring 1995 and left us just as Spring has sprung in 2007. She was always a scaredy cat, preferring the comfort and safety of dark places and the security of night's shadows. It took her many years to stop squinting so much in the daylight and fully enjoy the comfort of humans. She was my constant companion through illness & health and taught me patience and good cheek scratches. She's with Aesop, her true love, now. Her little brother Orpheus (whom the mythical Persephone welcomed to the Underworld) is walking around the apartment meowing at all her hiding places, confused and cranky. Her humans are doing the same.