The Albanian country-side around Sauk is a fertile place.  Green is worked into the landscape everywhere that man has not removed it with a bulldozer or covered it with a heap of trash or a building of some kind.  The animals here are as productive as the fields and the olive trees seem to be.  In this season of sun and rain, storm and storm-break, there are many newborn animals around.  I am adjusting least well to the culture here in the terms of how these animals are treated.  My good friend Hannah will be the first to explain to you that my views on animal rights.  And although they parallel the trend our culture has normalized over the last twenty years or so, I am an advocate for doing something to care for animals which will otherwise simply die of exposure.  Today our pastor from Fushe-Kruje, our church to the north, and I happened upon ten puppies.  They were a noisy group, still wet with the fresh moisture of birth.  We saw them near a pair of dumpsters at the junction of two roads en-route to a café from the place I am now living.  I asked the pastor, what we should do.  “Nothing,” he said.  “I think their mother will return for them, or she will not.”  And so we lingered for another minute or so, mostly because of my interest and not his.  About an hour later I walked past the same spot on my way home and the puppies were still crying out, living beacons to a mother who was still away.  No one in the neighborhood seemed to notice their wailing, not even the children.  And so I too continued on about my business.

I was not so prepared yesterday when I happened upon two abandoned kittens.  Having explored the road turning to the left out of my new driveway earlier in the day, I decided to find out what lay to the right.  Not twenty steps after making my turn I heard the noise; the unmistakable cry, cry, cry.  Cry, cry, cry, cry of a kitten.  Rooting around in the air, unable to see through eyes which had yet to open, was one white and gray baby.  Next to it was a deceased sibling.  I stood their briefly trying to ask myself “what would I do if I were a Christian in this situation?”  “I would do what I can for this creature,” came the obvious reply.  And so I took off my stocking cap and picked up the tiny cat with it, cradling the fragile package like a hard-shelled taco.  I now have a kitten living in the third drawer of my clothes dresser.  She is crying now if you must know; the same cry, cry, cry, cry as before.  So, now what?

I bought an eye-dropper at the farmacy in Tirana today.  I have named the youngling Sprout, as in bean-sprout, and have nested it within the confines of a small plastic box which is lined with my old Chicago Cubs hat and a pair of comfortable socks.  I read online that you have to massage a kitten’s privates in order to teach it how to pass waste; confirmed.  I am sure that it is crying out of hunger and loneliness.  You may as well know that it is not coincidental me having dreams throughout the night that a kitten was scratching me from beneath my night-shirt.  Monday I will have to bring my problem to the head of the school at which time it will become our problem, our little blessing: Sprout.