Vesper, a pure white, heavily pregnant female, arrived on Wednesday 9th September 2004. She was brought by Faye Sherriff who attends the local Youthreach. The kids at Youthreach had been feeding & playing with Vesper, an affectionate stray, and were worried about what would happen to her when their term ended.
Although they had fed Vesper, given her affection and were concerned about her future they were unaware of her needs and of the likely future of any kittens she might have. She hadn’t been wormed or de-fleaed, no vaccinations and, as I mentioned already, she was heavily pregnant. We reckoned she only had about one to two weeks to go we thought best not to neuter her (Note that most vets in Ireland will neuter a pregnant queen anytime up until the day she gives birth – not something that is good for the female!), nor to worm or flea-spray her.
She was delighted to be under a roof, supplied with regular food and care. As soon as she arrived she checked the room out for it’s suitability, spotted her birthing spot and settled in with assurance. She acted like I existed to serve her and plonked herself down on my lap the minute it became available, purred like mad and relinquished her position grudgingly.
We don’t know what Vesper’s story was before she appeared at Youth Reach. Her calm acceptance of any human appearing in her world suggests she was socialised as a kitten and probably not abused. When she arrived here she used the litter tray without hesitation, but that might be more a testiment to cats’ cleanliness than necessarily indicate she’d been trained how to use one. And she never figured out how to use the cat flap (and I made no attempt to show her).
The Hesperides were born in the early hours of 20/6/04. I’d stayed up late that night reading otherwise I would have missed the whole event. I wandered into the bathroom at 2.30am to discover a small, slightly damp, newly born tiny thing. First born Sparrow.
Before, and during, the birth I behaved like an anxious father. Having no direct experience of birth I’d ready every cat book on the subject and worked myself into a frenzy of worry about all the ghastly things that could go wrong. Vesper handled the whole thing with no trouble whatsoever.
…and I’ll have to come back to finish this ‘cos it’s late and I’m pooped…
The kids at Youth Reach had already named Vesper and I checked the name out on the internet out of curiosity. And I found the following:
Hesperides: Daughters of Vesper & Atlas. In Greek mythology, the Hesperides were goddesses of the sunset. Together with the hundred-headed Drakon Ladon they were appointed to take care of the Tree of the Golden Apples, a wedding gift from Gaia to Hera at her wedding to Zeus.
There are names associated with the individual nymphs, and they are often called Aegle (the radiant glowing nymph who polishes the Golden Apples till they shine with Heavenly light), Arethusa (She was a nymph pursued by Alpheos. By turning into a spring and a river she evaded him for a good thousand years before they agreed to mingle. This must be the longest lust, rejection, love and courtship scenario ever), Erytheia (Bathed in the golden glow of the setting sun, her name means ‘The Red One’. This lady in red knows the best times for pruning and tending), Hespera (Her name means ‘Light of Evening’, a reference to the setting sun. She is in charge of watering the sacred apple tree), and Hesperethusa.
Together, the nymphs sang enchanting and beautiful songs. The apples appear to have been the symbol of love and fruitfulness. The golden apples, the gift of Aphrodite to Ilippomenes before his race with Atalanta, were also plucked from the garden of the Hesperides.
Hesperus (Vesper) | god of the evening star
“Ho, hum, yawn” I hear you say. Well, anyway, from this came Aegle, Hesper & Star (Star’s full name is Evening Star and he was so named because of the faery’s kiss on his head). Sparrow came from the vesper sparrow, the grass finch, and her markings. And Bear was originally going to be called Drakon but for some reason Bear just suited him better. And his name is the only one which has absolutely nothing to do with his mother’s name and associations.
Their names will no doubt be changed as soon as they’re rehomed anyway but I quite like all these wee details and thought I’d share them.
We have, of course, no idea who Atlas might have been.
And that was all I wrote …