I usually write about wild things but this is a story about domesticated nature: an animal and a vegetable.
This winter Esther Allen gave the members of the Wissahickon Nature Club an assignment. Each of us must plant seeds from the kitchen and bring the results to the April 14th meeting.
My attempt with tangerine seeds failed to germinate and now, with less than a month left, I am running out of time so I bought a small turnip at the grocery store to sprout in water. It shouldn’t take long.
I don’t like turnips — never buy them — so this one was a novelty. About the size of a small red potato, it’s white and lavender with a tiny tap root and emerging leaves on top. At some point I showed it to my cat. Her reaction was surprising.
Emmy sniffed it, put her ears back, narrowed her eyes and gave it a sharp whack with her paw. I tried hard not to laugh. I hid my face in my book so she wouldn’t stop her assault on the turnip but I needn’t have worried. There was no stopping her. She kept beating the turnip until she knocked it to the floor where it rolled like an ungainly mouse. She attacked it from below, then charged at it, chased it back and forth, and nearly launched it down the basement stairs.
I rescued the turnip and hid it under a plastic bag on the kitchen counter but before I set it down I sniffed it myself. As far as I could tell, it didn’t smell.
The next morning I sat drinking my coffee and Emmy puttered around the kitchen floor when suddenly her ears went back, she narrowed her eyes and sniffed the air. Sniffing, sniffing, she moved below the spot on the kitchen counter where I had accidentally uncovered the turnip. She’s not allowed on the counter (ha!) but she jumped right up to the turnip.
I had forgotten about it but she had not. Apparently the turnip has a strong scent and she doesn’t like it, not one bit!
How am I going to sprout the turnip with an attack cat in the house?
Maybe my excuse will be that the cat killed my homework.
p.s. Emmy is also called Emmalina.
(photos by Kate St. John)