Backyard is the cat?s meow

When Jordan controlled Eastern Jerusalem from 1948 through 1967, Jews were restricted from visiting the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount. In 2010, 10 million practicing Jews made the pilgrimage to sacred Wailing Wall.

To come near to the temple is to come near to God.

In the six decades following 1892, Ellis Island in Upper New York Bay served as the gateway to America for immigrants. Here, 12 million in all became part of the a rich tapestry of the New World.

A new hope of a new life was on the other side.

In the 14th century, Chaucer?s literary classic shares the road with a band of 29 travelers on its way to Canterbury Cathedral. Pilgrims still make the journey to the shrine of Thomas Becket, a martyr and saint.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

There are places that people go. Lots of people. From all over. They travel to single, specific locations, as if drawn by a magnet. Then they stay for a while, look around and take a few pictures maybe, visit the gift shop and leave.

Usually it?s easy to distinguish why a particular spot is so interesting. You know, maybe it has the world?s largest prairie dog. But other times, I?m baffled what the attraction is.

My backyard, for instance.

Granted, it?s not visited by a lot of people other than wife Hanna and me. But for cats, on the other hand, it?s Mecca.

Almost from the first day we were in the house I noticed that our backyard was a hot spot for the neighborhood felines. There isn?t a day that goes by that I don?t spot one stalking through the grass. It?s like Grand Central Station: it?s where the cats converge before dispersing throughout the rest of the block.

There are, of course, the regulars. I?ve named them.

Tiger is a thick, brown tom who always appears to be in serious thought. He reminds me of a mob boss. Maybe he?s a leader of the Meowfia.

He?s usually crouched in the brush at the back corner of the fence, keeping a distant watch on the activity of the yard, probably assessing the current street value of catnip.

Then there?s Zeek, who is a lithe orange-striped little guy who isn?t afraid to hop up on the deck and stare inside the glass doors. He and our cat Simba, also orange, often do the Lucy-and-Groucho routine.

My favorite, though, is Marbles. Marbles is a tiny blue-eyed Siamese with part of his right ear missing. He?s easily the most sociable, though I think it?s only because he?s figured out playing the helpless, love-starved bit is an easy way to manipulate humans into feeding him.

It worked on us.

We?ll probably never know why they come. But it?s apparent our backyard is the cat?s meow. Literally.