In Blossom’s opinion, concord grapes were the cat’s meow. The Hatchers had a concord grapevine growing up a trellis in their back yard. The first time Blossom had plucked a grape from the vine and crunched into it, she almost howled at its meow-velous burst of flavor, something akin to Kool Aid, with fizzy hints of Mountain Dew. But after she’d swallowed the grapes’s insides, leaving nothing in her mug but the chewy skin, the taste turned tart as lemons. Her whole head shivered. Her eyes and mug scrunched into slits. Despite the head shivering, the grape crunching experience was so toe-tingling, Blossom couldn’t stay away. Grape eating never got old. Kind of like pouncing on lightning bugs.
Blossom knew for a fact that grape jelly was made from concord grapes. Mr. Hatcher had said so. Grape jelly was quite tasty too, as this particular morning she’d licked it off Mr. H’s toast after he’d left the table to get coffee. Then, peering out the window and spotting Riley, her best feline friend forever, out at the fence where their back yards came together, she trotted down to meet him and brag about her grape licking experience.
After she’d finished her boasting, Riley meowed, “Did you know that concord grapes are also used in the communion wine that’s served at our church?”
Blossom did not know that. Although she did know all about Willow’s first communion because she’d been given a play-by-play after the ceremony. Willow had decorated a stole with her own two hands, sewing a cross and grapes and cup and other colorful objects on it. And when Willow walked up to the front of the church, wearing her holy stole, the communion server had said, This is the body and blood of Christ, given and shed for you.
Sitting in the warm sun, Blossom eyed the grapevine. It wound up the wooden trellis, its little feelers curling around the horizontal wires running across it. Clumps of grapes hung in clusters, like papery purple hornets’ nests. Blossom nodded her head in a sagely fashion, the thoughts in her brain swirling and sparking. So if communion wine was made from concord grapes, then the same grapes that were spiraling about the Hatchers’ trellis could be considered real communion grapes.
Mr. and Mrs. H had been very proud of Willow’s first communion. And Willow had been proud herself, maybe even a little self-important like she’d grown a halo or something. Blossom decided right then and there, she wanted to be part of the communion scene. She could serve communion. After all, she knew all the right words to meow. But the Hatchers’ back yard was not a church. First, she had to advertise to draw in her communion customers.
Blossom’s whiskers trembled in anticipation over her grape breakthrough. Really, this was such an out-meowish concept, if all her friends spread their mews and woofs about her communion giving, it could take off across the country. Animals nationwide could benefit from her role modeling. Blossom the Communion Server.
After plucking a paw-ful of grapes from the lower vines and clawing them into a pile on the lawn, Blossom meowed to the cardinals in the evergreens. “Come and get it.” She patted the ground near the grape pile. “Get your communion right here.” She spied her first potential customer overhead, a baby cardinal, cute as a bug’s ear.
“Get a life,” the cardinal tweeted at her.
Not one to give up, Blossom decided maybe she needed a stole like Willow’s, so she’d look like an authentic communion participant. Back in the house, she dipped her head into a flour sack dish towel wadded up on the kitchen counter, shaking it in place over her shoulders. The towel’s ends dragged the floor as she took a detour into Mrs. H’s bedroom, taking a spin at the full-length mirror to admire her communion stole. Wow meow. It was a good look.
Willow said she’d first been given a wafer that she dipped in the chalice of wine. The wafer represented Jesus’ body and the wine his blood, even though neither looked like it. Not having wafers, Blossom scooped up a mugful of Meow Mix and headed back to her pile of grapes. Now all she needed was a venue for handing out the communion goodies. She envisioned a lemonade stand. Or the old wooden concession stand at the park’s ballfield.
At the end of the previous summer, Mr. H had bought a tool shed at the State Fair. One early autumn afternoon a truck had dropped off a pile of sticks on the Hatchers’ lawn and that same day another guy drove up on a Harley and put the whole thing together in the time it took Blossom to watch Animal Planet.
Blossom trotted up to the porch of the shed, now painted a deep shade of barn red. Dish towel draped about her shoulders like a shawl, she spit out the Meow Mix morsels, sending them pattering across the shed’s wooden porch. Then one-by-one and, eventually two-by-two but careful to avoid teeth marks, she loaded her mug with the already-picked grapes and transported them to their new spot. She sat back to admire her efforts. Meow Mix, grapes, concession stand. Her communion equipment was a knockout. This time she meowed to the forest loud and clear. “I’m open for business. Come and get your communion.”
Dylan the crow was her first customer. He hopped up onto the porch with his little stick legs and waited patiently. “That’s a beautiful shawl you’re wearing, Balsam,” he cawed.
Dylan always mispronounced Blossom’s name but because she was performing holy duties, she’d forgive him this time. “Here’s your Meow Mix and communion grapes,” she meowed.
“Balsam,” Dylan flapped his wings. “That’s not what you’re supposed to say when you serve communion.”
Well, fiddlesticks. Blossom felt her nose curling into a snarl at Dylan’s remark. So what exactly had Willow’s communion server said? This is the body and blood of Christ, given and shed for you. She eyed the communion cuisine. It certainly wasn’t anyone’s body and blood. Holy catnip, it was just cat food and berries. But . . . she could adjust her meows so the whole communion meow-age made proper sense. Blossom stared down at her toes for further inspiration, seeing the shed’s wood beneath them. A meower of a thought almost knocked her off the porch.
“Dylan, this is the Meow Mix and communion grape, given at the shed for you,” Blossom yowled loud enough for all of Tulip Drive to hear.
Dylan nibbled at his kibble and grape. “Amen, Balsam,” he said as he flew off.
Blossom decided Dylan was one satisfied customer. Plus now he was blessed. “Thanks to me,” she crowed.
Her next customer was a mourning dove. “What’s this?” the mourning dove cried. “Only one grape? I have three kids to feed. And who made you owner of the grapes?”
Blossom popped a grape into her own mouth. “This is my back yard on Tulip Drive and these grapes belong to me. Now pipe down and let me perform my communion serving.”
“Well, twiddle-dee-dee!” warbled the mourning dove and flew off.
A wren perched upon the top of the trellis. Tiny tail pointed up, she dipped her head and nipped a grape from its vine.
“Excuse me!” Blossom cried, glaring up at the wren. “Those are communion grapes. I’m the communion server and you have to go through me to receive them.” Blossom couldn’t help herself. She scooped up a paw-ful of grapes, sprinkling them into her mouth. “My grapes!” she managed between crunches. Flipping Friskies, crunching into so many grapes at once made her eyes water, but it had to be done. How else could she teach these heathens to be holy?
“It’s a free country,” peeped the wren and flew back to her wren house.
A chickadee came next. “Why are you wearing a dish towel around your neck?”
For a moment Blossom thought about giving the obnoxious chickadee a paw punch to the head but instead said, “These are my communion grapes. And you have to come to the shed where I’m handing them out.”
“No they aren’t your communion grapes,” chirped the chickadee. “You weren’t even out here last year when we ate them all. And, duh, there wasn’t a shed here either.”
Blossom was poised to perform a little chickadee chop. But she shook off her feline feelings, almost losing her holy dish towel, and clawed up another paw-ful of concord grapes. The grapes didn’t want to go into her mug, or maybe her mug didn’t want to take them in. At any rate, she smashed them in between her teeth with her toes. Her eyelids fluttered and her mouth scrunched sideways like a Muppet’s from all the sourness. These woodland creatures wouldn’t know holy grapes if they dropped from Heaven. The back yard animals sure weren’t being grateful for her communion skills. They were displaying unforgivable bad manners. And all this arguing was giving her one tiger of a tummy ache.
“Leave us alone,” tweeted a robin, who’d apparently pigged-out on grapes, his beak positively purple. “These grapes are public property.”
“Yeah,” warbled a finch. “You don’t own the market on grapes. And quit eating them. Cats are supposed to eat Fancy Feast.”
A grackle came along. “Too many grapes will give you the squirts.”
“Grackle schmackle,” Blossom huffed. Her stomach made a squelching sound. Her insides rumbled like so many ants parading through her intestines. Blossom started toward the house, in bad need of a litter box quick. But, wait. She stopped. No. She headed back in the direction of the woods. Things felt a little messy, maybe too messy for her nice litter box with the good quality sand.
Prancing lickety-split down past the grapevines, darting around the shed, into the woods Blossom plunged, parting the tall wild lilies, perhaps like Jesus parting the Red Sea. When she thought she was alone, she let loose. Hopping hamsters, it felt like she was pooping out a gallon of strawberry yogurt. Mrs. H would have definitely had to buy a new litter box. No one could have handled cleaning out the current one.
Blossom couldn’t help but look back at what she’d left amongst the sticks and brush. It didn’t look like poop at all, more like purple vegetable soup. But she felt an enormous weight had lifted. Shrugging the dish towel from her shoulders, she sighed deeply. Communion serving was exhausting, especially when her flock was so unappreciative. Maybe if she left the dish towel out, some other critter could take over.
Blossom shook her head. She’d had enough concord grapes for a while, like maybe for the rest of the season. “But Lord knows these animals out here don’t deserve them,” she meowed, trotting back to her house.