The scene above is almost exactly what I’m seeing out my window as I type, except for the flower-covered trellis (off to the left, but not in the picture) that has a little wooden sign hanging from its cross-bar saying, “Taffy’s Trail.”

Taffy was our first cat at Applewood Lodge. We first noticed him haunting a bird feeder located right where the trellis is today. Vicki put some milk out at our front porch. And in days, she had a golden, long-haired cat in her lap. He was so full of personality, and he seemed to know these grounds inside and out. When we’d return on Friday nights, after a week of hard long hours in the city, we’d just call out — T-A-F-F-Y — and he’d come running from out of the brush or up the gravel drive.

We now mow a trail through the field, beginning at the trellis, and a few years ago, we had the stone wall built to mark the transition from mowed grass to the wild flowers beyond. When we’d walk the trail, Taffy would bound through the flowers and weeds, jumping high to get a peek at where he was heading, and criss-cross the trail ahead of us, running at full tilt. He would love to ride on my shoulder as we curved along the trail, and after a hundred yards or more, a 12-pound cat with his claws digging into your shoulder began to feel like a potato sack full of pins. But he loved the ride, and the high view of his territory, and the closeness to his friends. We loved his companionship.

As I look up and out to the entrance to Taffy’s Trail this morning, I can almost see his golden form on the grass.