I shoveled another fist-sized bite of curry into my mouth on a predictably drizzly night in Port Angeles. I asked for 4/5 spicy, because I thought I could handle it, which turned out to be inaccurate. Each time the next bite made contact with my mouth, regret was born anew.
During my culinary sauna, the waiter approached the table where my sister and I ate and we did the small-talk thing. We explained that we were visiting, and he suggested that we visit Ediz Hook, a cool local spot. It was a small strip of land just wider than the road that constituted the bulk of it’s width, with a little beach on the side, for lagniappe. It headed off into the Straight of Juan De Fuca terminating (boringly) at a Coast Guard Station.
“Some people call it ‘the spit'”, he said, wincing at having to say the words, “but I think that word is gross. I prefer Ediz Hook.” he explained. He said it was a great place to get a full view of the city.
Our Waiter Tells No Lies
Not one to pass up fine advice from nice young chaps who bring me plates of Thai food, we followed his directives the next morning a bit before sunrise. After a chance encounter with a crosswalk, on our way to grab coffee, we departed for the limits of the city. One has to drive through industrial landscapes in what feels distinctly like an act of trespassing in order to reach ‘The Hook’, as I’ll call it.
The Hook arcs toward the NE, forming a little cove that is Port Angeles Harbor. On this side is a beach of quite-sittable driftwood logs and seaweed ropes on a bed of smooth round pebbles. To the left is a consistent rock-wall the extends along The Hook, made of fairly large boulders and stone, perhaps the size of baby elephants, some of them full-grown, and of a similar color. To be clear, they were not actually elephants.
Orca pods and seals can (apparently) be seen on the northern bit of The Hook, though we did not see them that day. We allowed the majestic view of Mount Angeles to fill our eyeballs. The sound of gulls and sloshing water on the northern side of the spit was a chorus around us, and the only other souls in the misty morning were the occasional motorist headed (boringly) to the Coast Guard Station.
Everything had gone fairly smoothly. We saw the excellent city, smelled fine beach aromas, and were adrift in feelings of well-being.
I was tossing handfuls of pebbles into the harbor thusly, enjoying the high-frequencies chorus of tiny stones:
The Sound of The Hook (And Pebbles)
…when I heard my sister shrieked in delicate blend of delight and fear.
I walked over, asking what she was seeing. We both saw the body of a brown cat leap between two stones, showing itself for the briefest of moments.
I managed to capture our first encounter with the Cat Colony of the Hook:
Meredith and Michael Make a Shocking Discovery
“Is that the same one?” I asked.
“No, that was a different one!” She exclaimed with, again, a complex combination at the excitement of seeing cats in rocks and the sadness of seeing cats in rocks.
We strolled along and caught glimpses of other cats, and then stumbled upon what appeared to be a small mass of vomit. We of course investigated said vomit and realized it was a mixture of cat-food and crab. A classic treat, no? We had stumbled upon a lost colony of cats.
A Mighty Ball of Yarn To Be Unravelled at 7:00 AM
While other people might have concluded that there were a few stray cats that lived in the rocks of Ediz Hook, I think it’s fairly obvious that within the 3 miles of stoney cat-sized canyons there must have dwelled hundreds if not thousands of feral cats. We had found the last bastion of cats. We were like the Columbus of cats. (Because we were accidental explorers, not because we contributed to the genocide of the cats and then later had a national holiday named after us that people really just used as an excuse to get loaded.)
Likely they were freedom-seekers, all. They had come as far north as they could, escaping cruel masters and lives of chaos, and Port Angeles is as far north as one can go. (Cats are not apt to swim, not because they cannot, but because of the Tuna Accord of 1438) The Hook was the end of the line. They would no doubt have been biding their time living within the walls of this maritime oyster-cloister, waiting, a few of them at a time and boarding the nearby ferry that goes to Canada. Sometimes they would have to wait years for their number to be called. So, while ramshackle, their stone-town was thriving. There was a small shop where they could purchase toy-mice, a nip-dispensary, and a meow-easy. These things are all products of guesswork, but I feel fairly confident they are true, given my experience.
Canada, huh? This Sounds Made-Up.
I think most people aren’t aware of the depth and breadth of cat-politics in the United States. Cats of course do not adhere to the same geopolitical boundaries and instead have 4 global districts, more-or-less divided by proximity to the poles of the planet. Government control and restrictions have become increasingly strict in the 3rd district, which extends about 200 km north of Vancouver BC. Most land-crossings are tightly monitored, and ferry-crossings represent one of the few routes that remain to enter the 2nd district. The district is known for being far more liberal, and in terms of long-term genetic investments, most felines are aware that climate change will make this region highly desirably within a few generations.
Again, this speculation is drawn from a few darting cats I saw in the rocks, but it feels pretty right on. I mean, these things were cute, let me tell you.
When they do board the ferry, of course, they’ll have to adopt new names and be given new identity chips. Movement between districts is forbidden, and names like “Grentî”, “Zsigiga”, and “Fréyløkka”, are all pretty identifiable 3rd district names. New names like “Mancy”, “Pantsy”, and “Yancy” will be assigned. During their voyage they’ll have to undergo a fairly rigorous training program to acclimate them to the social norms of the 2nd District. This includes learning the local lore of Luna, the Moon Cat and her Flaming Sword, practicing local dialects, (4th District Cats curiously greet strangers with a shrill “WOW!”) and committing their family back-story to memory. To our unaccustomed eyes, it might appear that some stray cats are batting at “phantoms” and aimlessly darting around the ferry, but I assure you this is not the case, and ask you to set your judgements aside.
In Vancouver, they’re meet with “The Gate”, a large cougar who will help the immigrants move eastward, undetected. She lives in a junnkyard near Grouse Mountain, north of Vancouver. Her family encourages her to move into a proper den, but she likes the old taxi she lives in, and she’s been there for years. She delivers guitars in need of repair to the only cat-luthier in the 4th District. The average guitar body can probably hold seven cats. I know from experience. Packed tight like some kind of fish in a small box, they move eastward over cover of darkness. Crossing Jasper National Park can be dangerous, and will be cold. The journey could take weeks. Areas of the west are still too heavily monitored, but since the borders are tightly secured in the East, the northern villages are less vigilant for migrant cats. The small towns and countryside are the only available option.
Miles and weeks later, the cats of Ediz Hook will gaze out upon an unfamiliar new life. It’s not what they wanted, but it’s just what one does to survive. They’re on their own from here. Their new lives stretch before them like so much yarn.
But back in Port Townsend, WA, USA, District 3, my sis and I just watch as two eyes look knowingly up at us from between the stones. We say nothing, we offer nothing, we leave no trace. Ediz Hook, opportunity’s waiting room. I think we went and drank coffee, again.