December 24, 2017
Meet Modraniht, the Mewest Member of our family
Sometimes decisions are taken arbitrarily. I made such a decision four days ago, about a little grey kitten.
This skinny and scared looking kitten had been found hiding under a car in the car-park of the apartment compound next to us where we live in Nairobi, by some children. But because these children already have a puppy, they couldn’t keep it – so they were trying to think what they could do with the little cat. Then they thought of their neighbours Lottie, Leon and Frida, and that they might be able to give the kitten a home.
After inheriting a very very old and smelly dog, a puppy who was being kicked about by some street kids, a stray kitten which had more kittens and dozens of chickens when we were living in Tanzania, I had vowed that I would not take in another stray. But, within a split-second of meeting the helpless frightened creature, brought to me in a cardboard box by a gang of wide-eyed children asking, or rather pleading, if we could keep it, I had made up my mind and we had a new cat.
We have given this mischievous looking cat the name Modraniht, because he was found on the date of an old Anglo-Saxon pagan festival of the same name.
Everything we know about the religious festivals of the Anglo-Saxons comes from De Temporum Ratione (The Reckoning of Time), a book written by the 8th century Christian monk and historian, the Venerable Bede, in which he described the calendar of the year.
Bede claimed that the greatest pagan festival was Modraniht (meaning Mother Night), which was situated at the Winter solstice on the eve of Yule and also marked the start of the Anglo-Saxon year.
Here are my first sketches and photographs of Modraniht our little Christmas cat.