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Frozen Bubbles

by Janice Munday, New London, CT, USA


Hei Yu's Most Favoritest Bestest Toys were Frozen Bubbles.

Do you all know what those are? You pick a clear, calm, frigid day in winter, preferrably at dawn or in the shade (direct sun interferes). Then you take your bubble solution outside, and blow bubbles.

If you pick exactly the right day (it has to be Frigid, not just Cold, and as windless as possible) and do it exactly right (blow the bubbles in an upward direction, so they stay in the air as long as possible) the bubbles will freeze before they hit the ground, because it only takes a few seconds to flash-freeze their thin skins on a properly cold day.

If you work it right, you'll end up with all the bushes and grass adorned with Beauty. If you're very careful, and wear gloves, you can even handle and juggle them. Knitted or fur gloves work best; the bubbles will "perch" on the filiments, and not burst. Warm skin, though, will pop them almost immediately.

Anyway, every winter, I made Frozen Bubbles at least a few times. Hei Yu would stalk them, and she was so much fun to watch; I'm not sure whether she forgot The Rules between times, or it was all Part Of The Game, but...

First I'd see this little face peeking around the corner of the house. Then she'd saunter over to the biggest bubble, and [sniff] at it. Pop! It vanished!

Now no Self-Respecting Cat can let her prey get away from her, so she'd look around for it. Aha! -- there it is! (The next-biggest one, but she seemed convinced it was the same one.)

Don't look directly at it, it mustn't know it's being stalked... Saunter past it, still ignoring it, and -- Swat!!

Hey!! -- it escaped again!

Sit down and consider...

Okay, new Plan Of Attack. Locate bubble again. Stroll past again, ignoring so it won't know, and -- Pounce!!

There, now I've got it -- it's under me, couldn't possibly have escaped.

Stand up veeery slowly, ready for the Escape Attempt, and look under self.

Look further under self. And still further. Stretch legs and arch back high high high, and check all the way under self, until you almost turn a somersault.

No bubble on the ground. No bubble on the belly-fur. No bubble anywhere. It escaped again! This cannot be tolerated -- sit and make another plan.

Hm. There are lots of these things around -- I don't have to have the very biggest one -- maybe the babies will be easier to catch, since they haven't grown up yet. Maybe they don't yet know The Secret Of Escaping The Mighty Huntress...

Sit and wash a hind leg, so they'll think I've Lost Interest... Ignore... Ignore... and Go Crazy! Bat at every bubble I can reach! Left! Right! Twist! Back! Turn and bat some more!! I'll get one yet!!

By this time, I (Hei Yu's person) am in hysterics, sitting on the porch with tears running down my face.

But somewhere along the line, during this manic phase, she always (re?)learned that if she hit the bubbles back-handed (-pawed?), and slowly, they wouldn't burst from her claws or just the heat of her pads.

She'd go into a slow-motion game of tag, carefully hitting bubbles with the back of her paw.

This phase was beautiful, like watching a recording played at slow motion, or a particularly graceful and controlled ballet. I'd watch, mesmerized, freezing but not caring, until all the bubbles had been popped by her attentions or by the warming sun.

Then she'd trot over to me, and tell me ("Mrrp? Mrrp! Niaow!") it was time to go inside, warm up, and eat breakfast. Special breakfast for a Special Day -- we'd share pancakes, with sausage or bacon, and talk about her Hunting Prowess. (She'd brag, and I was expected to offer Fulsome Praise -- both of us with our mouths full. [grin])

I've always regretted that this happened before video cameras; I truly wish I could have made at least one recording of it. But I can see it again, all I have to do is close my eyes...

Those were Hei Yu's Most Favoritest Bestest Toys.

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