The Great Gatsby: A Retelling Featuring Gatsby the Kitten

Jordan Padgett has worked for Boone County Public Library for eight years and works as the Youth Services Programmer. She holds a B.A. in English, Creative Writing from Northern Kentucky University and loves a good story.

In my experience, the sentiment, “good things come to those who wait” has been mostly true, even if this fact does nothing to make the wait any easier… The beginning of this story starts out on a sad note, but I promise — it has a happy ending.

At the beginning of June, I said goodbye to a pet that I’d had since I was six years old. Literally having grown up alongside my cat, Emily, I had little to no memorable years of life without her. At eighteen, she simply wasn’t doing well, and I was faced with the hardest decision I have ever had to make. After she passed away, several people asked if I would be getting another cat. The answer was simple: no.

At some point down the road, sure, I would reconsider my options…but my heart was still too full of the pet that I had lost to even consider making room for someone new. As I’m sure anyone who has a pet would agree, they’re too much a part of your family to be considered replaceable in any way. Just as you could not, or would not, replace a family member, you can’t just replace a beloved pet. Especially when that pet stems from your childhood.

In a way, I was saying goodbye to something much greater than an animal.

Jump forward about three months to a sunny Wednesday afternoon and everything I thought I felt would change.

On August 24, between lunch and a meeting, I caught wind of a visitor. Rumor had it, there was a little face peering in the basement windows on the front of the Main Library.

Anyone who knows me at all knows that there are two things I can talk about all day. Those things are Harry Potter and cats. It’s not something I’m ashamed to admit, so naturally, when there was a kitten outside the window by my cubicle, and I missed it, several people were quick to let me know…

…and just as quickly, I became determined to rescue said kitten.

Thankfully, both for me and the cat, the library is full of people who love animals.

And as I’m sure you can imagine, a hefty number of us love cats specifically, so there was no way on earth this little guy was going to get away without a rescue on our part.

Although my desk sits right beside the windows where the kitten was first discovered, I wasn’t able to investigate until after my meeting.

Cats may be stranded, but the day must go on. A fact I was not overly excited about.

In case you’ve never gone traipsing around the “front” of the Main Library, where the big jw8_5933-editwindows face Route 18, let me paint a picture for you. There are about three feet of low-sitting shrubs…and if you’ve ever seen the animated Disney classic, Sleeping Beauty, and you can recall the wall of thorn-studded vines that keep Prince Phillip from Aurora, that’s pretty much exactly what these bushes are. Except in this case, they were keeping very desperate employees from a very needy kitten.

Upon release of my meeting, I had exactly one goal. That was to find the kitten and rescue it. There was no way I would be able to sit comfortably on the other side of that window, knowing that a tiny life was stranded and hungry by itself in that Devil’s Snare. Needless to say, a group of cohorts and I made a trip outside to further investigate. I soon realized how the poor thing had gotten stuck, because the moment I put my foot down in the middle of those bushes, I was struggling to keep my balance and pull my foot out again.

I do not recommend spending time there.

Had it not been for the teamwork of my wonderful co-workers, I very well may have gotten myself stuck in the bushes just as much as the poor cat. Eventually I found my footing, and we were able to get far enough back into the bushes to figure out where the kitten was sitting. When we were finally able to interest him with a bowl of wet cat food that our PR Coordinator had graciously gotten from Kroger on her break, we were in the clear.

One thing that will always stand out to me is how ready this little kitten was to be free. Whether it was the fact that it meant he was free of the bushes, or that he got to finally eat, I’m not sure, but regardless, he could not have cared less that he was willingly walking toward a group of people. There was no hissing, there was no biting, and there was no lashing out. I genuinely think he was too small to know what to be afraid of. All he knew was hunger and potentially the pain of a few thorns in the back.

It is now that I’d like to formerly introduce you to Gatsby.

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When we first met, he was approximately six weeks old and weighed exactly 1.2 pounds. My husband and I laughed hysterically over the idea that if he were a tiger, he would weigh approximately two hundred and one point two pounds. Looking back, I’m not sure why we found this thought to be so funny. We also thought he was a she – a simple mistake to make when certain things have yet to develop.7

I started this story by stating that good things come to those who wait, and by introducing you to the loss I was feeling at the beginning of the summer. I wasn’t ready for another cat and I wasn’t ready to love a pet the way I had loved Emily.

It is my firm belief that Emily knew what I needed better than I did. They say that cats have nine lives. Perhaps this is life number two, or three, or four… either way, I didn’t go out looking for a new pet, but one found me anyway. He needed me just as much as I needed him, and who was I to leave him stranded in a prickly patch of shrubbery?

I am certain that, had I been unable to take him, he would have found another 6wonderful home with another loving family. However, I like to believe that he was outside the window by my cubicle for a reason. After having him for exactly two months, I still like to believe that he needs me just as much as I need him…even if most times it seems like our love is a one way road that sometimes has a service lane directing his teeth to my feet.

Animals have a way of knowing what we need, and apparently, exactly where to find us.

–Jordan

 

 

A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book,” book exchange.

Little Free Library in Walton

Little Free Library in Walton

You may have seen a few “tiny libraries” popping up around Boone County this year.  That is because Boone County Public Library, along with Success By 6, and Boy Scouts of America have partnered to create four “Little Free Libraries” to serve Boone County.  A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange. The libraries come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common is a small wooden box of books. According to the Little Free Library website, “there is an understanding that real people are sharing their favorite books with their community; Little Libraries have been called “mini-town squares.”

The Little Free Library project began with BCPL and Boone County Success By, 6 to encourage early literacy skills in children birth through age 6, and provide caregivers with the materials needed to aid in these skills. As part of this early literacy initiative, staff identified the Little Free Library projects as a possibility to engage the community in reading and sharing books together.

At the same time that staff were considering this project, Weston Rainier, a local Scout, was looking for a service project to obtain his Eagle Scout status. This status requires 21 merit badges, and an extensive service project that the Scout plans, organizes, leads, and manages. Only four percent of Boy Scouts are granted this rank.  Here is what Weston has to say about being a part of this process:  “Doing the little free libraries was great project. When I was first doing the project I looked online for ideas and found many designs online that I took inspiration on when building. I got great support from the community, especially the schools which allowed me to have a book drive there. Without the support and the many books that the schools and the students at the schools gave me this project would not be possible.”

There are over 40,000 registered Little Free Library book exchanges in the U.S. and over 70 countries around the world.  If you visit, https://littlefreelibrary.org/ you can view an interactive map to find the Little Free Libraries near you.  BCPL has registered three Boone County Little Libraries.  They are located in the following areas:

  • Hebron–on the future BCPL property off North Bend Road
  • Walton– on the future BCPL property by Kroger
  • Rabbit Hash—by the path to the stairs between the museum and the barn

We hope that you will use these Little Free Libraries to share the books you love with others in the community, to choose a free book for vacation, or to select a great children’s book for the child in your life. Albert Einstein said, “The only thing you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.”  So, if you don’t have time to get to one of Boone County Public Library’s buildings, make a stop at your local Little Library to pick up a free book or make a donation.

–Amanda

Assistant Director Amanda Hopper lives in Union with her husband and two daughters.  She is passionate about serving the children and families of Boone County.