Lanes and alleyways run through my neighborhood and behind each block of houses. The alleys provide easy garbage collection, recycling and lawn clipping removal. The alleyways also provide space between neighbors, places to quietly exchange lawnmowers for old garden chairs, and habitat for critters like the raccoons, skunks and cats who use the alleys as thoroughfares for their nocturnal scavenging and nighttime courtships.
My garden ran along the back of just such a lane. There was a big fence separating the blackberry brambles in the lane from my humble little patch of tulips, lavender and rhubarb. It was a roughly five and a half-foot high fence that should have been the territorial boundary between the big ginger tomcat and I.
At first, we co-existed peacefully. Tomcat passed through my garden on his daily rounds. I pulled weeds, cut flowers, tended the blueberries and let him mind his own business. I was not particularly friendly. Nor was he. He vanished when I appeared. I watched him slink under the fence and allowed him his shortcuts without much fuss.
Then I began to find cat poop in my garden. Not even covered up, like most decent cats do, with a little discreet swish of dirt. No. Tomcat was brazen. He pooped like a graffiti artist, tagging my rhubarb leaves and the edges of the tiny pink geranium mounds.