June 17, 2011

Garden Notes, 6/17/11

Earlier this afternoon, I was sitting in the gazebo in the back garden, being entertained by a woodpecker hammering away on a locust tree a couple of yards up the street and by a houseful of baby wrens about twenty feet away from the gazebo.  When they’re awake, they keep up a constant chirping which turns into quite a clamor when their mom or dad comes by with food.  When I first went out to the gazebo, I was heckled by one of the parents, who eventually figured out I was not a threat. The parents remain very vigilant when they’re pestered by the cats that now call our garden home.  

Last December we lost our cat, Michael T Michael was a great garden cat.  He was no threat to the birds, or to our thriving woodchuck population either. We used to think MT and the chucks hung out, watching TV, drinking beers and sharing stories. And I was convinced that a bird could land on his head and he wouldn’t care. 

While he was a friend to most garden creatures, it was only on the very rarest of occasions that we’d see another cat hanging around.  Now that Michael’s gone, we have several. There’s a fluffy black and white one we’re pretty sure is Bubbles from next door. There’s a petite gray tiger (with a collar) who has a regular path she follows when she stops by, meandering through the garden closest to the house then down the shady walk leading to the rose garden, checking everything out along the way. 

We also have another larger (collarless) grey tiger, who stalks the area around the bird feeders, which is very troubling. There’s a Mutt and Jeff pair of white cats, liberally decorated with gray. The smaller one’s short haired and skittish; the larger one’s long-haired and grumpy, usually snarling at or actually fighting with his mini-me. And last, there’s a long-haired black cat; this one we also think might be a neighbor, as we’ve seen a similar one in the upstairs window next door.

My Sweet Baboo tells me that a garden needs a cat. I know it’s hard for him this year without Michael, who kept him company here for 14 summers. And I'm honestly trying to get comfortable with the idea of letting ours outside, free-range, instead of keeping them be in their kitty playpen.

But I think everyone would agree that having six that don’t belong to us is a bit much.