Zoe the Cat's story begins on a picture book autumn afternoon in the Brandywine Valley country west of Philadelphia. Lost, wounded and looking for a friend, a skinny, one year old black cat finds her way to our home.
Years ago I was living in the small town of Oxford, Pennsylvania where the Brandywine River Valley and Amish country landscapes create a peaceful patchwork of horse drawn farms and small towns. Late one day on one of those glowing orange October afternoons while autumn leaves were floating on the breeze, a thin, young black cat appeared outside of our home crying for help. We had never seen her before and being cat people we were aware of most of the more sociable town cats near our home and along our walking paths. Crying relentlessly for attention we noticed that she had a deep and bloody wound on her lower leg. We rushed her off to the Applebrook Veterinary Clinic where she was patched up and bandaged.
A few days until Halloween and we were suddenly graced with a black cat companion. Back at home we looked at our little mystery cat and she looked back at us wondering what was for dinner and where her sleeping accommodations might be. We named her Zoe.
Zoe quickly settled into her new home. She quickly decided that my painting studio was the place to be and a wonderful studio companion she was, purring away while I painted. One afternoon while I was painting at the easel I looked over to see Zoe standing on her hind legs quietly gazing out of a studio window. The photograph (top left) was literally taken then and there. I had never seen a cat in that posture before. Our sweet black cat, packed with personality was now an artist's model.
Zoe was the perfect artist's model appearing on two book covers. Both of her appearances were published as part of the Harold Bloom literary series. Her first modeling gig was on the cover of the Stephen King collection in the Bloom's Modern Critical Views series. In that painting she is standing on her hind legs along with two curious children watching a late night mystery unfold in the village graveyard. The old section of Oxford's town graveyard, down the road from our home, is filled with those classic old carved grave markers and monuments.
Two years later while sketching out ideas for the cover painting that would be published on the Ray Bradbury literary review collection I knew Zoe would be modeling again. Having read most of Bradbury's novels and short stories I recalled there usually was an author’s photo of Ray on his dustjackets and paperback back covers showing Ray holding his black cat. Remembering scenes from The Halloween Tree and Something Wicked This Way Comes it was a natural for Zoe to appear in a Bradbury Green Town autumn landscape of pumpkins and carnival carousels.
During her senior years Zoe looked out from her ottoman empire to hilltop vineyards and hummingbird aerial performances in the Santa Ynez Valley wine country in California. Quite a change of scenery for a kitty that arrived one October afternoon towards evening out of the Pennsylvania woods.
Zoe passed on to her next adventure in January 2009. We miss her warm furry cuddles, the feeling of her gentle purr and mostly her sweet heart personality best seen in comments about her culinary preferences and her excitement in finding the sun warming a new found corner of the home we shared with her.