Cats and Gardens
by Julie Carpenter
How thoughts about murder and mayhem in the garden led me to question my intake of caffeine – another random train of thought that stopped at an unexpected station.
This particular thought train to nowhere was triggered by squirrels. Squirrels seem to be taking up an inordinate amount of real estate in my mental landscape lately, but that’s another story.
I looked out my kitchen window yesterday and I saw a squirrel looking back at me. He was stuffing his cheeks with almost, nearly, barely ripe blueberries. The ones I was going to pick today. I pounded on the window and he shrugged. Whatever. I could see it in his eyes.
I went outside to pick the tomato I’d seen just beginning to blush the day before. Also gone. Zucchini flowers eaten. Definitely squirrels. Not only that but something or someone had eaten my hostas down to the ground, along with the cypress vines that were just starting to bloom. I was contemplating that mystery when I looked into the laurel hedge and saw a large brown rabbit with a hosta leaf hanging from his mouth as he efficiently vacuumed it up. I tried cayenne pepper. I tried a stay off spray. The rabbits could care less. The rest of the tasty hosta leaves were gone before the day was over. I think they appreciated the extra flavor. I have never had these sorts of problems before, and it suddenly occurred to me why.
Cats. I rescued two outdoor cats, Crow and Brutus, when I lived on the little farm in Fayetteville, TN. We had eight private acres and the cats were allowed to wander at will through the gardens and the woodland at the back of the meadow. At this point in time, they are confined to the house until I work out some way to keep them out of the traffic. We will probably get a fence with cat baffling. They are a little too old to get used to being indoor only cats.
Anyway, it suddenly occurred to me that the reason I got to pick vegetables and berries before they were consumed by my small, furry competition was that I had two very efficient little murderers meting out justice to wandering thieves. While the competition for food seems very distant from me, I must now consider how many squirrels had to die so I could have blueberry cobbler in the winter. How many rabbits died for that great squash harvest I had a few years before? I occasionally saw them, scattered on the field of battle (and under the porch swing, and then there was the time under the marble top table…but you really don’t want to hear about that.)
How much killing did the cats do so that I could eat the food I was growing?
What kind of a place is a garden anyway? How many chipmunks does that red-tailed hawk living in my tree eat per day? What about the snakes? I’ve seen snakes eating rats, mice, baby chickens and each other. I saw a hawk nab a snake. Behind that peaceful façade is there really nothing but blood and war? Should I really think about it too much? Why is my mind going down this path right now? Is something wrong with me? Have I had too much caffeine?
Yeah…it’s probably that last one. I definitely need to give up caffeine.
Julie Carpenter is the creator of the Sacred Chickens website. She is dedicated to telling stories and making sure that indie writers and publishers have a way to be heard. She uses narrative, her own and others’, to help interpret the world. She has a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Memphis, with an emphasis in Composition Theory. She wants to bend reality one story at a time. Julie’s work has appeared in Fiction on the Web and will be included The New Guard. She is currently working on a novel.