Back some years ago, so many that I don’t remember exactly when it was, but probably around 1981-82, my dad and mom, my two youngest daughters and myself were headed out on a day trip. My third born, Danielle, needed to find a small tree for her 4-H Christmas party. With camp shovel in hand Dad climbed into the passenger seat up front, I was driving and Mom sat with the two girls in the back. Excitement was swirling in all our heads as we headed out the highway with our destination in mind. For the girls, it was a day out with Gramma and Grampa and like an adventure as they hadn’t been to this place before. For me, time with mom and dad was always good and I loved getting out in nature. I had my camera, as usual, hoping to get some good shots whether it be of the family or the surroundings, it didn’t matter. Now if you aren’t from the Port Angeles area you probably won’t have any idea of where I am talking about but if you are, you will be saying any minute, “Oh ya, I know where you mean.” Well, I had explained to the girls where we were going but it wasn’t but a few minutes before they started asking how long it would take. I headed out C Street, then past Lincoln Park and the airport. We went through the Dry Creek area and turned right when we got to Highway 112. We were headed for the lower Elwah River where the old one way bridge crossed over. To cross, if there was oncoming traffic you had to pull over, let it pass and take your turn when it came. But we weren’t crossing that day. About one hundred feet before the bridge, on the left, was a narrow little road that went down to the river. I pulled onto the road and started slowly making my way down. I could see the perfect place to park the car about one hundred and fifty feet straight down over the side of the road. Since I have a thing about heights and didn’t want to drive off the edge into oblivion, I was really driving slow. The road was rough, full of ruts and rocks but we eventually made it and I resumed breathing. Dad got out with the shovel and mom and I helped the girls out. They were immediately running and laughing saying, “Come on. You guys are too slow!” We walked a bit enjoying the sound of the river and looking at the change in the scenery since the colder weather had set in. The evergreens of course were still green but the deciduous growth had lost all it leaves and the tree branches reached out like skeletons. We stopped along side the river where the water had pooled and was not flowing too swiftly. I tried showing the girls how to skip rocks but was never too good at it myself. Dad on the other hand could make them skip three to four times. Danielle and Mary-Elizabeth loved it. Dad said we should get going to find a tree. We hunted through a group of smaller ones and found a good one about three foot tall, filled out fairly even all the way around and with only one top. Dad dug it up and I held the bucket that we had brought with us still as he put it in. Danielle was happy thinking she would be bringing the perfect tree to the group. We started walking back up the side of the river towards the car. The girls wanted to throw more rocks but dad said we should get going if we were going to have an early dinner before we headed home. That had been the plan. We were going to go on to what is now the Family Kitchen Restaurant in Joyce, WA but at that time was called the “Atlasta Burger” Restaurant where they served what was called the “Logger Burger.” Now this burger was bigger than a dinner plate and I don’t know who could possibly eat the whole thing but, if we cut it into six servings, giving two of those to dad, we thought we could manage it. I understand that the place was sold and changed names somewhere around 1983 but still serves those burgers.
Suddenly, Danielle started shouting, “Stop, stop, I hear something.” We all stopped and listened. Nothing. We picked the bucket back up but hadn’t gone two steps when Danielle yelled again. “I hear it, I hear it. Stop!” Mary-Elizabeth joined in. “I hear it too. Mommie you have to do something. It’s a kitty. Mommie do you hear it.
“Yes, I do, but where is it? Where is the sound coming from. The three of us were practically on our knees by this time looking under every tree and log.
“Here it is, I hear it here in the ground.” shouted Danielle. “How can it be in the ground?”
I listened and sure enough the sound was coming from the earth. I got back up and took the shovel that dad had already reached out to hand me. Digging slowly, taking small amounts we could hear the cries growing more faint. Time was running out. Mary-Elizabeth was almost crying herself. “Mommie, you have to save it, you have to.” I handed the shovel back to dad and began digging with my hands. It was hard. So many rocks. I finally opened up a small hole and there we saw the tiniest, dirtiest, striped Tabby kitten ever. I reached in, cupping her in my hand and drew her out of her, “GRAVE?” all the while thinking to myself, could someone have actually buried her there. I wiped the thought out of my head. It was a sickening thought. She moved. Good she was still alive. I brushed the dirt off her face. Mom handed me a kleenex that she had dipped in a puddle of water close by. I wiped it’s eyes which were full of dirt as were it’s ears and mouth. As I moved it around it tried to meow but ended up spitting and pawing trying to get the dirt out. I assisted carefully with my little finger as a scoop but it was mostly up to her. She spit and gagged but finally had most of it cleared. Then we heard the sweet sound of a real meow, one that sounded actually like a kitten. I continued to wipe the dirt away as we went back to the car where I wrapped her in an old sweater that I kept in the car for emergencies and handed her to Danielle.
“Dad, I thing we’ll have to do dinner another day. ” I’m covered with dirt and now we have this kitten. Dad agreed and we loaded the girls with the kitten into the car. About a mile down the road I asked Danielle how the kitten was doing.
“Oh, she’s doing fine, she’s purring.” she answered. Then she added, “Mommie, what do you think we should name her?”
“Hold on there one minute. No one said anything about keeping her.” I replied quickly.
“But mommie, we have to, we saved her,” said Mary-Elizabeth almost in tears again.
“Well, I think they should get to keep her,” their gramma said.
“You stay out of it,” my dad said back to her, “It’s none of our business.”
“My business or not, I think they should keep their kitten.” she said sharply to dad. “And girls how about the name “Bridget” , after all, we did find her under the bridge.”
“Hey, I like that name gramma,” said Danielle. “Me too,” giggled Mary-Elizabeth. “We should call her Bridget.”
Dad and I looked at each other. He shrugged his shoulders and I smiled. We both knew at that point, this little kitten, our rescue named Bridget, now, had a home.