elegy for clutch

After fifteen years of life, fifteen springs, fifteen classes of student farmers, fifteen seasons on this Earth, our beloved farm cat Clutch has passed.

As I write this, I realize how hard it is for me to fully grasp the reach that Clutch has had during his time on this ridgetop, the impression he’s left on so many people. He was an impressive being, with a quiet regal air about him. I think of every student farmer, all of the guests, the friends, staff, family, children that have passed through Maggie’s and have seen his august feline form gazing serenely into the distance or stalking the grassy knolls of the farm. Or maybe just curled up on a chair in the parlor. All of the over-eager dogs that have been swatted away, all of the rodents killed, all of the humans he has begrudgingly allowed to hold him. So many people have come and gone through this space, the furniture shifted, the community altered, and Clutch has remained a constant. He feels like an indelible part of the Maggie’s house; as structural and ancient as the chestnut beam that runs across it.

Still, all things pass. To me it feels a strange, undeserved honor that he pass during my short time here at Maggie’s.

One of the other student farmers, Alicia, would jokingly say that Clutch was a pharaoh in his past life. That by some misdeed committed he was brought back in the form we knew him. In some ways this place was perfect for his sentence. Punishment in the form of a new batch of student farmers every year who feel that they have the right to enforce their rules on him, who dare look him in his noble eyes and tell him to get off the couch. An infinite wear on his royal patience. And along with it, perhaps in recognition of his eminence, a free and wild land to reign over. Rabbits to hunt, green grass to lie in, milk and roasted lamb served on tiny platters on the kitchen floor. A life sentence fit for a king.

My snapshot of Clutch will be the many quiet winter mornings we shared together. In the serenity of an empty house, my fingers curled around a hot mug of St. John’s wort tea, and Clutch jumping up onto the table to find a square of sunlight to rest on. He would lie down, and we would sit in silence, basking in the warm wooden glow of the Maggie’s kitchen.

And now Clutch rests under the forsythia on the southern edge of Maggie’s, his body returning to the land he used to walk, and his memory lingering in the minds of all those he’s met. A reminder of the perennial nature of the life all around us, and the impermanence of all things. So, as the last frosts ebb away into the night, and the quince and crab-apple prepare to blossom, we say goodbye to Clutch, king of the farm.

photo by ritam chakraborty

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