I live in one of those neighborhoods that is a close-knit community, a thing rare in the USA but common in many other parts of the world.
Carpenter Woods is our local 100 acre branch of the city park where dog-walkers meet and greet at all hours of the day. On my dog walk last night, I came across a woman with several neighbors trying to coax her cat down from a branch 30 feet off the ground. Everyone has to learn once in his life that climbing up is easier than climbing down.
That cat was Commodore Barry, but he answers to Commie. He was still whining and walking nervously on his branch when I went to bed last night. I dreamed about climbing the tree to rescue him, but when I awoke he was still in the tree.
This morning, two separate neighbors came by with ladders. Charlie, with the longer ladder climbed up and left a food offering for Commie, who ventured in from his branch to take the food, but could not see clear to climb down the ladder. So Charlie climbed up again sweet-talked Commie into approaching just close enough to get one hand on him, but Charlie wasn’t able to hold on, Commie was more frightened than ever, and scampered another 15 feet up the tree.
I don’t know who it was who knew Jack and realized he was just the right man for the job. Jack used to volunteer for Greenpeace, and had trained in scaling walls and towers, and had all the ropes, shoes, carabiners and harnesses. I arrived too late to see the rescue, but I heard all about it from the other neighbor-spectator. Jack could have thrown a bag of buckshot tied to a string over the branch and hauled his rope up that way; but he was mindful that might spook the cat, so he climbed the tree lumberjack-style to tie his rope in to the upper branch, 45 feet off the ground, the base of the limb where Commie was hanging out at the end. He climbed down, gave Commie some time to assimilate the situation, then used the rope to bootstrap himself up with a hitch-climber pulley system, this time with an empty backpack. At the top, he hooked his harness directly to the tree crotch, then unhooked the rope that had got him there. Getting Commie into his backpack was the hardest part. Commie got scratched, Jack got scared. Jack lowered the backpack on the rope, easier on cat and human alike than trying to climb down with a cat on his back. Then he re-configured the rope in a knot that would hold fast so long as there was tension on it, but that would give way once he got down and gave the rope a shake. Rappelling down was quick and easy, but the rope didn’t come free when he shook it. So Jack roped up again and hitch-climbed back up to unfasten it. This time, he just doubled the rope over the crotch in the tree, and held both strands as he lowered himself down. Getting the rope back was just a matter of pulling one end.
The neighbors chipped in to take Jack out to dinner. I made a contribution to Greenpeace.