Sample Chapter From "Eight Paws to Georgia"
It didn't take Jasper and me more than two days to realize that things were very different in Georgia. First of all, it was warm! This was the end of October, and we could be outside all day and be warmed by the sun. Our little rental home was close enough to the ocean for us to hear and smell the salty waves, which was a real treat. Talk about relaxation! Once again we set out to familiarize ourselves with the new neighborhood, the animals, and the people.
The first cat we met in Georgia was Daisy. The Mistress had been to a bookstore in the village and met the cat who lived there. Then she took us to meet her. Daisy looked very much like Jasper, but she had most unusual paw pads. Most cats with a large amount of white fur have pink paw pads; darker cats have black pads. Jasper is white with black patches so he has pink paw pads. Daisy is also white with black patches, but she has some pink pads, some black pads, and some mixed pink and black paw pads! Her Mistress, a very pleasant cat person named Nancy, introduced us and soon we were following Daisy around her store. We had made our first new feline friend!
The people were very sociable and kind to us. As always, we encouraged them to pamper us. I noticed that they were harder to understand than our friends on the West Coast. They spoke in a soft soothing coastal way, and they pronounced their words differently. Sometimes Jasper and I didn't know what they had just said to us, but we smiled with our "moon eyes" (slits of catly ecstasy), lowered our heads for rubbing and urged them to scratch our tummies anyway.
One day I heard the Mistress and Mr. Mike talking about the new Georgian words they were learning. They were impressed and charmed with the delightful phrases they heard, so I took it upon myself to memorize some of them to share with y'all (you). That's the very first expression I heard the first time I ventured out. Since then, here is a sampling of other Georgian talk, which is a main ingredient of the "Georgia nice" attitude here.
And my personal favorite is "Joe Jah" which, naturally, is the correct pronunciation of Georgia! There are many more, but I have shared my favorites with you.
We quickly learned that the Georgian people are very cordial. They do everything with a smile and always call out a greeting to you, whether they know you or not. They are also very polite, and the children are taught to say "Yes Ma'am" and "Yes Sir" to the adults. Each evening the Mistress and Mr. Mike would share their day's experiences, while Jasper and I would lay at their feet and absorb this new culture. It was great fun to learn as they educated themselves, and we practiced the pronunciation when they were out of hearing range.
Some of the food they eat here is different and truly delicious, even to a cat. On occasions we were able to sample some new food items. The local people love grits, greens (collard, spinach, and mustard), pig tails and hog jowls, chitterlings, yellow or red rice, hush puppies, cathead biscuits (so big they can choke a cat), sweet iced tea, slaw dogs (cole slaw on hot dogs), boiled peanuts, okra, fried catfish and black-eyed peas. Please don't ask me to describe each of these. I only just learned the names from overhearing my masters' conversations.
The trees and sea animals of St. Simons Island are also totally new to us. Here we found lovely twisted live oak trees hundreds of years old, with bluish green moss dangling off the branches. We discovered cypress and dogwood trees, as well as gum trees and hickories. We recognized many types of pine trees, and palm tree varieties that we knew from San Diego living. When Jasper and I ventured out to the beach, we saw the most magnificent seashells. Sometimes they still had living creatures inside! During our first two weeks here, the Mistress brought home and pointed out to us angel wings, jingles, whelks, moon shells, cockles, slipper shells and sand dollars.
So it was with great excitement that Jasper and I studied the new area. Different words, new landscaping and totally fresh smells for us to absorb gave us immense pleasure. We were like young children at Christmas time, awakening every day in anticipation of another new surprise! Our first two weeks were a constant thrill as we discovered the treasures of Georgia
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