Thursday, April 11, 2013

“Die Katze ist auf die Mauer gesprungen” Redux

   ...from a photographer's notebook

In this age of “branding” everything – and I hasten to say we are not talking about what is done with hot irons on cattle ranches to those poor little “dogies,” but rather the catchy little names that must be invented for product lines to ensure commercial success – I think I’ve come up with something for a series of photos that insist upon making themselves whenever I’m in Europe with my cameras (as though there is ever a time I’m in Europe but not with the cameras).

Holy Agfachrome, Batman, did I write that 5-1/2 line sentence? Did you even get through it?

I guess I’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do, eh Lucy?

In July 2010, I wrote in these rambles about a photograph I took of a cute little tabby cat in Bad Mergentheim, Germany, who had scrambled across a cobblestone street in the town, jumped up on a wall, and prettily posed for the visiting camera-toting American…and how the moment immediately caused a quirky little college German phrase to spring from the dusty dendrites of my gray matter to the lips, as though learning it were yesterday rather than decades past. The phrase was, “Die Katze ist auf die Mauer gesprungen” – the cat has jumped on the wall – which, of course, I blurted out to a German photographer friend who was with me, to the amusement of all within earshot.

Die Katze ist auf die Mauer gesprungen!

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my two “Katze/Mauer“ photos from that German trip in 2008 were to become progenitors of  so many other enjoyable kitty-photo-ops on subsequent Europe trips.

Of course, I am always on the lookout  for a comely kitty as I prowl about mit die Kameras, and that does include looking downward, as well as across or upward to walls, but some of my favorite European kitty-pix have turned out to be of kitties on stone walls.

Beatrice shows me Lenz
That realization jumped out at me this week, as I was editing some photos I took in 2011 in the village of Lenz (or Lantsch, as it’s called in Romantsch, an ancient language spoken in Switzerland’s Canton Graubünden). I was there with my Bündner friends Beatrice and Ruedi, who have family in the village. Beatrice, who is also a photographer, was taking me around this picturesque village, surrounded by rich green Alpine meadows on a day that featured the most wonderful late afternoon sunlight casting magnificent long shadows on the verdant greens.

Lenz/Lantsch has a lovely, and very old, church, St Mary’s, that sits above the village. Beatrice knew I’d find it a wonderful motif for photography as well as for capturing wide views of those shadows on the meadow. As we were returning from the church, we walked along a stone wall beside the path, the top surface being perhaps four feet off the ground. And there, in the warm early autumn sunshine, was “Camo-Cat” the village calico. Well, I decided her name was “Camo-Cat” as she blended so nicely into the foliage, her eyes nicely picking up the surrounding rich greens.
Camo-Cat (auf die Mauer, natürlich!)

I take it as a matter of great personal pride and consider it something of an honor that most kitties (who I find are superb judges of character!) consider me a friend, usually immediately. I realize, of course, that when I attempt conversation in Katze, it is with an identifiable Amerikaner accent, but it doesn’t seem to bother them in the least...

Indeed Camo-Cat was so comfortable in my presence that she proceeded to stretch out on the sun-warmed stone wall and let me get very close with a camera.

Is that a purposeful walk, or what?
On that same visit to Switzerland, Ruedi, Beatrice, and I stopped for lunch in the rustic old village of St Martin in the wildromantisch Calfeisental region of Canton Sankt Gallen. 

We were dining on the Restaurant St Martin’s outdoor terrace, and as we ate, an attractive black and white kitty came strutting, just as matter-of-factly as you please, along a - well not quite a wall, but a railing alongside our table. Time for one quick click with the little point-and-shoot before she ambled by with catlike tread! She was walking with purpose and I can only think she was on a mission of some kind...

One of my favorite Katze/Mauer photos was made in the farm village of Zillis in the Via Mala region of Canton Graubünden, a year earlier.

I realize I’ve been referring to all these photo-kitties as she. I suppose I have an at least 50% chance of being correct, but most have struck me as girls (or ladies). And, truth to tell, while most of these kitties were absolutely willing subjects, I’m not at all sure they would have cared for a visitor getting too “clinical” in verifying their gender…

Anyhow, this little kitty with her dainty white gloves struck a coquettish pose as she looked down at the camera-guy from her perch high on a stone wall. I haven’t given her a name just yet, as the title “Cattitude” seemed to say it all.

I did think she had that “je ne sais quoi” to make her a pin-up girl for my Euro-Kitties Calendar (just in the design-study stage for now but I rather enjoyed making the cover layout – with apologies to those more fluent in German than I). In that setting she would be known to her admirers as Zillis Bauernhof Kitty (Zillis Farm Kitty).

Please excuse any clumsy German. As Dean Martin was fond of saying,
 havin' a little fun here, folks!"

I know that, lurking within my many files of yet-unedited images from prowling about the cobblestones, there are likely more Katze/Mauer images, which I will hope to share at some point. For now, happy Springtime, purrs ‘n’ gurgles, and think about making a sweet shelter kitty a part of your life.

I did. Mewer sends his best.

©2013 Steve Ember

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Blogger Susana Miguel Rebela said...

This is funny, in contents and writing...and cats are just loveable...
Thanks again for sharing.

April 15, 2013 at 3:39 AM  

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