During those times in late May and early June, the days had warmed toward Summer. I had been returning home from work to sun lit streets lined with well manicured lawns and modest single level houses. Behind those homes, tall brown boarded fences boxed in secret backyard worlds. My own, lined with rough hedges along the edges of those fences, enjoyed a degree of shade, centered by a single tree which raised its green leafed branches toward a constantly blue California sky. In this private world, I enjoyed fixing evening meals on the barbecue grill. No, not every night - I attended college two nights every week and hit the road every weekend, sometimes just driving, other times, river rafting, hiking, walking the beeches and visiting points of interest and special events. Always, I took time to marinate meats, wrap potatoes in aluminum foil and the next evening, fire up the grill. Steaks, chicken breasts, thick boneless pork chops, salmon and blue tiger prawns often sizzled on that grill with a foil wrapped Idaho spud stashed in the glowing briquettes. The new kid on the block, foot loose and fancy free, I had yet to establish any intimate or romantic connection, although I held a certain admiration for one and knew of a number of similar interests for me from others. Still, as a young man, I remained on my own, unattached and I suppose at the time, adventurous, but cautious. One evening with a filet Mignon searing and a chicken breast being grilled, while I sipped a good Cabernet, she appeared out of no where, intruding upon my moment of sublime relaxation. She literally came upon cat paws - quiet and at first, spell binding. I sat just on the upper of two steps outside the kitchen's sliding glass door and she sat on the grass just off the sidewalk that lead around the house. We calmly eyeballed each other. "Oh my gosh" I remembered. "The food on the grill!" On my feet, I rushed into the kitchen and grabbed the plate and silverware I had readied on the table. Back outside, she sat calmly in the same spot, not moving, even as I rushed by her to rescue my steak and chicken from the grill. When I sat back down and made a first cut on the steak, I considered her motivation. I offered her that first cut and she rose and approached me. A black on gray striped tiger, she took it with no fear and crouched to feed upon it. I cut another piece and began to chew. I gave her a piece of chicken and she made short work of it. And so it continued for a time. I thought to reach out and touch her, but before I could, she cuddled and rubbed herself against my right calf. I stroked her fur at her shoulders, behind her ears and below her chin. I considered a name for her, but wondered who's cat she was. I considered whether she visted herself on others besides me and instantly, the name came to me - Marauder. Finding that too harsh a name, I settled upon Miraude. It sounded kind of Japanese, making me think about those porecelin Maneki-neko cats. The name fit her perfectly. We became friends and from that day, at least for the rest of the Summer, I never barbecued alone again. No sooner had I lit off the grill, she showed up to keep me company and share my meal - and more than that. I began to find dead mice and birds on the doorstep and one day a dead squirrel. No, I wasn't about to barbecue these things for her. I understood that she was an agile hunter, but was surprised that she could take on a squirrel. She paid a price for that. It had bit her left front paw and the paw had become infected and puffed up. And this surely became a hard test of our new friendship. I had to do something to help her and not just relieve her pain, but help her heal. I took her by the nap of her neck and with my left hand's thumb and forefinger took her injured paw. I heard her begin to growl, but risked being bit and squeezed. A huge blob of yellow puss came out and she was instantly relieved. Although she licked at the paw to clean it up, I applied some peroxide to disinfect the area of the wound. The next day, the soreness had gone away and she returned to normal. Eventually, Miraude and I would part company for good. But before that day, she would do something that would totally astonish me beyond my wildest imaginings. As had become typical of her, she showed up as usual for a barbecue, but would not eat. Instead she stood off a distance and cried. She walked away further, turned back to me and cried again. Her behavior confused me. I got to my feet to comfort her and when I reached down to her, she softly took my right index finger into her mouth behind her fangs and tugged. She turned and walked away further. I reached down again and stroked her side, only to feel the area around her belly wriggle as if she were infested with some sort of large worms. I remembered then how for a while she had smelled strongly of musk. I suddenly had an idea what was going on with her. She turned again and walked into the hedges and I followed. Right then and there, she birthed three kittens. She began to groom them and I touched their noses hoping that later they would know my scent and be adjusted to human contact. Of course, that didn't work out, as I would later find out. I would have let them hiss at me at first and then get them adjusted by constant interaction. I would later find the kits good homes and the days became shorter and colder. Barbecue season came to an close. I figured that some members might appreciate this true barbecue story which took place in the Summer, 1983.