Why Kitty Hide?

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's a question that I cannot answer: "Why Kitty Hide?"

It's also a question, in restrospect, that I miss and could hear over and over again.

The wife that is Venus and I hosted our niece and nephew this weekend at our North Natomas home. The parents of the 2-year old girl (think TERRIBLE TWO'S) and 5-year old boy needed a bit of a break to be honest. We were more than happy to help them out.

Venus and I both know that the seeds that bring about a love for gardening must be nurtured at an early age. Our niece and nephew had never planted a garden before, until this weekend, and they seemed to enjoy it immensely.

I think they also loved running from "The Scarecrow" monster, a motion detection system that shoots a stream of water at whatever crosses its path. Still, they seemed to have a lot of fun planting the final crops of the 2009 garden -- a bed for our pickling cucumbers.

Our pickling efforts went fairly well last year, our first, but we learned that not all cucumbers make great pickles. That's why we ordered more than one variety of pickling cucumbers last winter, and had the kids plant our seed-starting efforts this weekend.

While little Celina loved running about the garden, she was most interested in the cats. And she simply could not understand why they would run in terror from this shrieking little girl. And so, throughout the weekend, this innocent little girl would look me straight in the eye and ask: "Why Kitty Hide?"

I learned that there was no good answer to this puzzling question. In fact, it didn't matter what answer I gave, as it usually prompted the response of: "Why Kitty Hide?"

And not just any kitty, but all four of them.

So, while we did our best to distract Celina with efforts such as planting pole beans, she still couldn't get over the fact that these flurry, fluffy creatures didn't want to come anywhere near her. That's why I hear the question over and over again today: "Why Kitty Hide?"

As it turns out -- both little Mark and little Celina do have a bit of that gardening gene in them. Celina, however, isn't quite ready to put anything harvested from the garden in her mouth at this point (not many 2-year olds are ready at age 2), but Marquitos was a different story. I was surprised.

It took a long time before Bill Bird would let a tomato come near him. I certainly wasn't eating garden produce at age 5. It would take several more years of cajoling and outright threats from my mother before I dared eat a slice of cucumber. But -- little Marky? He's different.

That little boy not only treasured the last cutting of broccoli from the garden, he proceeded to eat a great deal of it for dinner that night. Of course, it did help that his Aunt Venus prepared his most favorite meal of Mac N' Cheese, but it's rare to see a 5-year old boy not only consume garden produce, but actually like it.

But it didn't stop there. Not hardly. Mark was to discover the next day that he actually liked fresh peas from the garden. You could have knocked me over. I never would have believed it. A five year old boy picking pea pods, splitting them open, and devouring every pea inside? It took me years to get to that point.

Venus and I do not have children, yet. For most couples, acquiring children is akin to falling off a turnip truck. But for other couples, well, it can be a struggle. Put us in that "struggle" category. And, I think it's then that you come to realize that children are really God's greatest gift.

There is really nothing like teaching a child to dig a small hole for a starter plant or seed. The joy of watching a young child tear into a pea pod, or hunger for something else you have just harvested from the backyard is hard to describe. But there is a sense of satisfaction. The hard work of previous weekends is paying off. It's paying off in ways you never imagined.

I know that the weekend we spent with our niece and nephew helped plant the seeds for future gardens in future years. I know that they look forward to coming back later this summer, when they will see the seeds that they planted this spring flower and produce. Hopefully, they'll get to sample their work, and begin to understand the answers to some of the gardening questions they have.

But -- there is one question that can probably never be answered.

Why Kitty Hide?


Venus said...

Nice job, Bill. And there is nothing like seeing the nephew open up a pea pod and eat all the peas and want to run out for another one because they are so juicy and good.

Carri Stokes said...

So cute- looks like you guys had a great time with the kids (I was getting worried by some of your Facebook posts...haha). It's true, two year olds can be a LOT of work. I used to not like to share my gardening space with others, but my own two year old has taught me the joys of a gardening "partnership". Seeds are the BEST source of entertainment for her- all she wants is a cup with seeds, and a stick to poke in the dirt with. We now how turnips and nasturtiums growing all over the the backyard, and okra, cucumbers and squash growing in the front yard. She knows which plants she planted herself. The down side- every pot, and every inch of dirt now has something in it- and most things I'm not really sure what they are (I had gotten a mixed flower seed packet and gave that to her to play with). This makes it really hard when you're weeding and trying to figure out what is a weed and what is possibly a flower!

Anonymous said...

kids will eat vegetables if they've grown up eating them...that is to say that if parents serve veggies to their little ones from the get-go they arn't ever new or weird. Kid's don't get picky about their food until they are 2 or 3 and you can't expect them to enthusiastically gobble up something "new" at that point. Would you dive into something you've never seen before or have been allowed to say "ick" to for all these years? Probably not. But a garden is magic with kids. After watching my own kis in the garden (now 9 and 5)I set out on a mission to start a garden at their school. Every child should have the opportunity to graze on fresh peas, wander through corn stalks twice their height, grow their own jack-o-lanterns and delight in the smells and tastes in the garden! It not only introduces them to healthy, fresh eating - it instills a love and understaning of nature and an early sense of environmental stewardship that few other things can. And, if kids in your garden and their health and safety arn't a good enough reason to garden 100% organically, I don't know what could be!
Great blog - thanks for sharing your adventures with all of us.

Bill Bird said...

And thank you for reading! My entrance into the gardening world was not by choice. It was an order. My mother put a spade in my hand, directed me to a hard dirt area filled with weeds that were as tough as nails, and uttered the command of "dig." It was not a request.

Much later, I would plant some seeds from my favorite kumkwat tree (in another yard on the other side of the alley), and despite her requests to chop it down, I never did.

That tree is still there, and produces the best tasting kumkwats known to mankind.

zhanay said...

Hi Bill. Loved the story about your niece and nephew, hopefully they are getting a head start on a life of gardening! I'm a fellow tomato maniac, and of course I could use that Home Depot gift certificate because I need to build more tomato cages!!!

Keep on Planting!

janet (zhanay)