Once I lived in a small town about 20 minutes from a larger one where I had to go to grocery shop or go to the movies. Because we – my husband and I – lived in a small town, we had a huge garden and lots of property.

Small-town living was fun for me, but my husband came from D.C. and was not used to neighbors noting your coming and going, the silence of the woods behind our house and the lack of access to city amenities. There were frequent trips to the city for doctor’s appointments, going out to eat, going to the movies, shopping.

One day I headed out with my lists of necessities – probably including canning supplies – to drive to town. To get to town I could take a four-lane major route or the slower, hilly side road past farms and another small town that has a library open a few days a week, two churches and a small common. Since I was in a hurry, I took the shorter route.

I took the ramp onto the highway and instantly gunned the car to get up to the 65-mph speed limit on the road. As I sped along, a few drivers passed me, and seemed to be signaling me that something was amiss. Or maybe I thought they recognized my car and were trying to say hello. They’d toot and pass me and then move on.

But one car kept following behind me and seemed to be signaling for me to pull over. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw that it was a middle-aged man. I instantly became afraid. What did this man have in mind? Was he trying to take advantage of me? Why was he tailgating me and then trying to pass me but not completing the pass?

But since I felt so confused and this had taken place over a space of at least five minutes, I decided to pull over and find out what his problem was. I pulled off to the side of the road as far as I could, and he pulled off behind me. He got out of the car and walked up to my window.

“Come here,” he said. “Look at the back of your car.” I didn’t know what to expect, so I got out and looked at the back of the car, where my cat had his claws dug into my bumper. Apparently he had been sitting on the bumper when I got into my car, and when I took off in a hurry, he had held on to the bumper for dear life.

Poor Mr. Wiggles. He looked like a cat image seen on Halloween, all fur in spikes, a wild look in his eyes. I managed to extract him from the bumper gingerly and thanked profusely the man who had stopped me. I took Mr. Wiggles immediately to the veterinarian, who pronounced him in excellent health and then proceeded to do my shopping. Mr. Wiggles had calmed down by the time I got him back home, and after this incident he quit leaving tracks across the hood of the car.

We gave up country living soon after that and moved to a small town near the city center. My husband feels much more at home here, shopping is easier, there is less property to take care of, and I do less canning.