Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Between meals Stella naps, sprawled luxuriously.
Beheimah is the Hebrew word for domestic animals: horses, cows, oxen, and suchlike. (You may know it in the form of the biblical word Behemoth, the enormous land-based counterpart to Leviathan.) The Missus and I use it, tongue-in-cheek, to refer to smaller domestic animals as well. Cats, f’rinstance.
Back in the days when we owned a horse - yes, Esteemed Readers, the Elisson family actually owned a horse some fourteen-plus years ago - we would refer to the twice-daily task of lobbing a bale of hay into said horse’s stall and loading up the trough with oats as “Feeding the Beheimah.”
When we would arise in the early morning hours, the first question we would ask was, “Whose turn is it to feed the beheimah?” And one of us, dutifully, would run off to the stables.
Regardless of whose turn it was, though, there was an ironclad rule: You would feed the beheimah before you fed yourself. The horse, after all, cannot replenish his own trough; meanwhile, our cereal and coffee could wait.
These days, Stella is the only non-human mammal resident at Chez Elisson, and it has become her daily practice to inform us when Breakfast-Time has arrived. This she does by clawing at our coverlet, making a hard-to-ignore skritching sound. If that does not get our attention, she begins to paw at the headboard, or to march around on the bed meowing piteously in her unique squeaky voice. And the Missus and I will turn to each other, asking simultaneously the traditional question: “Whose turn is it to feed the beheimah?”
It’s worth getting out of bed just to watch her galumph down the stairs, where she meows eagerly as I replenish her kibble and open the daily can of Meat-Goop. A well fed beheimah is a happy beheimah!