If a Maine Coon could miss Maine . . .

Hugo ~ adopted December 2011 (about 4.5 months old)
Harlequin (Mei-mei) ~ adopted December 2011
(about 4.5 months old)

Sounds like a variation of that old woodchuck rhyme doesn’t it? How  much Maine would a Maine Coon miss if a Maine Coon could miss Maine? Sounds silly, but it’s actually something I’ve been wondering about recently. Could a Maine Coon miss Maine even if he’d never been there?

We live in Indiana, and we have two Maine Coon mixes we adopted as kittens from the local shelter. Or they adopted us ~ because, you know, they’re cats. In the shelter, their names were Hugo and Rene. Those names fit because Hugo was covered in thick black fur with a silver ruff around his neck that made him look like he was wearing one of those heavy coats you’d see on Russian spies in the old movies ~ and he had an attitude. Rene’s name fit because being brought to the shelter was almost literally a rebirth for her.

We renamed them, though. Because we’re both science fiction fans, and because of the Russian spy coat, my husband, James, named Hugo “Baron Hugo Von Nebula.” Being a writer and an avid reader myself, the name quite tickled me, and soon inspired Rene’s new name: Princess Harlequin the Romantique’.

Hugo and Harlequin (called “Mei-mei” for everyday ~ the whole scifi thing, you know) were shelter rescues, both about 4 months old when we met them, though Mei-mei weighed barely a third of what Hugo did at 2.5 pounds. She had a rough start in life and came into the shelter malnourished, filthy, covered with mats and fleas and, we discovered later, full of lungworms as well as tummy worms. The one littermate that came to the shelter with her died soon after, they told us, but not our Mei-mei. Despite the rough start, being spayed at barely 2.5 pounds (they had to shave her tummy to do it, her fur was so matted), catching a cold because of it, and then nearly succumbing to the lung worms that got healthier as she did, our Mei-mei just kept going. James and I joked at one point that we should have named her Timex.

Both Hugo and Harlequin have clear markers of their Maine Coon ancestors, he in his eyes and build and layers of fur, tiny ear tufts and sickle-like claws; she in the clear “M” over her eyes and the multicolored patches of her coat that helped inspire her name. Mei-mei purrs almost every minute she’s awake and has recently learned (after two years) to make that squeaky “merp” sound, while Hugo vocalizes in a range from that nails-on-a-blackboard cat’s meow to the quiet-all-is-well-with-the-world ‘Coon trill (I prefer that last one).

I get homesick for coastal New England, and have since before I ever visited there, though once I did visit, the condition became acute. I tell people I must have spent a previous life in coastal New England, it feels so like home to me, but the seagull must have gotten blown off course this time as I was born and raised in the Midwest.

As I say, we live in Indiana, and neither of the kitties has ever been to Maine. But I’m beginning to wonder recently, if Hugo doesn’t have the same kind of past life connection to Maine, or at least a streak of ancestral memory running through his blood. They’re both completely indoor kitties, and other than Hugo trying to keep us from going out the door (he has separation anxiety issues . . . or maybe control issues . . .), they’re both usually content to watch the world go by out the windows ~ until lately.

This winter we’ve seen more snow and bitter temps here than we’ve had in years, and (unlike me) Hugo seems to be loving it. The lower the temperature drops, the more wing-nutty he gets, chasing Mei-mei around the house like they did when they were kittens, running to sit by the door when his spidey senses tell him someone is coming in from outdoors, even sticking his nose out into the frigid air and licking the icy storm door when he gets a chance. I think, sometimes, if he could reach the doorknobs, he’d figure a way around that whole no-opposable-thumbs thing and go walk-about, see what that shiney white stuff is all about.

And, every now and then, I’ll catch him lying on one of the platforms of the kitten-tree James built for them, looking longingly out the window, and I wonder: Could my Maine Coon be missing Maine?


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