There once was a kitty named Grunion, Jojoba Peppermint Grunion, not to be confused with any other kitty named Grunion you may have known. She belonged to my son Anton, or so one says. In fact we all belonged to her.
Grunion was studying mechanical engineering at the University of California San Diego. She lived as an illegal immigrant in the Pepper Canyon student apartments. After graduation, Grunion had plans to do her Master’s in Engineering Economics and Operations Research at Stanford. That was not to be.
At the Bechtel International Center on the Stanford campus where Anton served as hausmeister, Grunion was gata non grata. So she ended up studying for a Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in Instructional Technology at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. She roomed with me off campus.
This morning, my Matcha Meditation opened upon a whole new dimension. I began purring. Some might call it OM, but my purr was no metaphysical abstraction. It was visceral, an expression of deep contentment.
The purring began as I was drinking my special blend of Matcha morning brew. My first cup is sixteen ounces of pure Japanese komakai quality Matcha, something of an ascetic experience. The second cup is very different. It is a mix of Matcha and Peruvian cacao powder. Pure powdered stevia adds sweetness. A little coconut oil provides body and another dimension of flavor. Purists of both the Matcha and Cacao persuasions will be appalled. But it works for me. And this morning it really did all work together. Unbidden, my body began to purr.
So was this purring just self expression or was it communication? A picture or rather a mental video of Grunion came to mind. She was sitting, purring, between me and Dodie, aka my mom, on a low stone wall in our front yard in Logan. That is where Dodie and I liked to sit and watch the sunset.
Grunion would come up behind us and flick Dodie with her tail. Being allergic to cats, Dodie would jump to the side. Grunion would exploit the opportunity and take position in between Dodie and me. Then she would sit there purring. I think that was more than just self expression. I think it was communication.
Dodie understood Grunion to mean, “I am jealous of Dodie. You belong to me. This is my place.” I think Dodie understood cat very well. That’s surely the way I understood Ms. Grunion. But, then, I don’t know if Grunion ever purred when she was completely alone. This all leads up to the semiotics of purring.
My take on it is that all self expression is communication and vice versa. Joy comes when the communication is resonant. Hence, purring is both physiological and transcendent in nature. As the scientific journals generally conclude, more research is merited. Meanwhile, purring will become part of my Matcha morning ritual, as will memories of Ms. Jojoba Peppermint Grunion.
Also published on Medium.