Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Smell of Fury: Mr. McGregor's Revenge

Among other places I've been lately is my own backyard.  Where I do attempt to garden.  Things intervene at times -- Mother Nature, life.  I generally roll with it.  One of my tenets for gardening is I only want to fuss if I feel like it.  Otherwise, the joint should be able to largely run on its own.  (I give it roots to grow, it needs to use its leaves to fly, so to speak.)

All is very Zen.  Weeds come, they get pulled.  Probably.  Edges are maintained, but not religiously.  Experiments in cohabitation (will it be okay if I grow this iris in the asparagus bed?) are made.  Harvests are assumed to be about 1/3 of potential, given the fact I like to maintain things wildlife-friendly.  Why 1/3?  Calculate 1/3 loss to wildlife, 1/3 potential loss to whatever, leaves 1/3 for us humans.  This sets the bar at a level that leads to minimal disappointment and maximum happy surprises.

Unless this happens.

Decapitation by rabbit.

In which case, The Peaceable Kingdom gets all rumbly.  The young me who cringed whenever Mr. McGregor menaced Peter Rabbit needs to go in a closet and hide, because the old and wizened me starts looking around for a hoe.

And I don't mean to start weeding.

Until I started growing vegetables, I never felt this kind of id-like response when dealing with things dirt.  I've seen hostas munched down to nibs, and merely shrugged, knowing they'd be back the next year.  But when it came to produce...tasty, fresh, labored, contemplated, organic, so fully imagined I drooled fruit of my labors, fruit whose cost came partially out of the family grocery budget...well...

...like a pea, I snapped.

The first year, I took to letting the dog out and encouraging him to go chase the leaping lepus.  I had to rethink that strategy when he was, erm, VERY enthusiastic about discovering a bunny den.  With babes.  (Turn away.  It gets worse.  I won't discuss, but yes, I had to practice "ethical" euthanasia.)  So I turned to prevention, which of course would have been best to practice from the very beginning.  I've tried hair, pet and human, red pepper spray, row covers.  Hair works erratically, and then only until it rains.  Red pepper spray works, unless it entices, and in either case, only until it rains.  Row covers work, until it gets hot, and then they need to come off.

And I don't like the way they look.  I like looking at greenery in my garden, not gauze.

So, it's a hodgepodge of prevention and acceptance around here.  With the occasional bout of mind-noise anger.

I inadvertently brought this topic up with some 'fume friends.  And, because I had sympathetic ears -- none of which quivered or were floppy -- who inspired me toward a particular slant.  A scented slant.  A proposal for Christopher Brosius.  To wit:

The Smell of Fury:  Mr. McGregor's Revenge

The title came to me in a flash.  But it took a little time--and some painful honesty--to compose a proposal/inquiry.

TO:  Christopher Brosius
FROM:  A Passionate Gardener, an Avid Scent Wearer
RE:  Brief for a New Project

CB, you're one to tackle this one.  It doesn't tell a story so much as take you down of (garden) path of personal development, vegetable patch style.

The story:  Discovery, Delirium, Reconcilement
The backstory:  Innocence lost, Peter Rabbit
The smells:  AT FIRST dirt, fresh air, other vegetation--for this writer, a rub of sage, a hint of garlic chive, the sharp medicine of creeping charlie, the ozonic yet odd decay of an allium flower, the hint of a leather glove, rubber and feet (hello, best garden clog ever).  A HARSH SMACK of tomato leaf which leads to a SHARP TRANSITION as the smell of metal glints invitingly in your nose.  Other writers might propose a hint of gunpowder at this point, but I'm thinking fur and the brush of pine and sweat and the smell of a blister forming as a runner tries to gain on a rabbit while wearing rubber clogs.  A SWIRL again of transition as you briefly but disturbingly ...oh, dear, it is so harsh to say...but you are bold, and you will go where I can't...it is only imagined, but my visual will become your fur plus blood, I think.  So QUICKLY a waft of the fresh breeze only hinted at in the allium now writ complete and non-compromised, green and ozonic all at once, leading to flowers and the crisp smells of green beans and peas and the oddly sharp (gee, is there a connection to the blood here?) smell of a properly ripened but not mushy tomato.  Perhaps a lovely balsamic vinagrette?

Fava beans, your call.  I say it is over the top.  But I have a friend who wants the whole denouement to be rabbit stew.  

Can we talk?

I dunno.  It's a start.  And certainly a catharsis.

I'm more demonic in my head than I ever am when it comes to real life.  In real life, I bought more tomato plants than I had space for.  Already, I'm mourning that I did not think to put Pink Lady, that modern faded something, in the ground first, for then I would be swapping it out for the robust vintage Mortgage Lifter.  But I tend to think positive (oh, hush), so was hoping I would just be offering up the extra plants to a neighbor.

So I brush the dog -- who has fur, I know, and does not offer any sebum-ish moments as I groom him.  I let him roam.  I make homemade non-toxic but hopefully highly repellant sprays.  

But mostly, I putter where I am inclined, let the rest go, and hope for the best.

Maybe one day, I'll be sneaking huffs of a new scent I'm testing, shorthanded as McGregor's Fury amongst perfume folk.  Wait, no--better yet--I'll be a pre-release tester.  You know.


So that this cosmetic can be identified as not having harmed rabbits in testing.

photo of decapitated tomato plant, (sadly) author's own
"stop animal testing" image found on various websites, including Amy's Gripping Commentary


Olfacta said...

Everyone loves Great Blue Herons, don't they? Except people, like us, who have fish ponds. A heron visit is total carnage. Pieces of fish floating in the water; once, I found my favorite fish, a hole through his body, gasping his last on the lawn -- evidently something had scared the heron away. They spear them, toss them into the air and swallow them alive. We use all the methods to discourage them -- net, plants, you name it, but we've lost many fish to them. I'd like to shoot the damned things but they're protected. Good luck with the bunny wabbits.

Musette said...

Unlike you (I think - forgive me if I read this wrong). I treat my vegetable garden as a completely separate entity. It ends up looking like Alcatraz, with a 4'picket fence (it's cute) and wire mesh stapled at 3' height and bradded into the ground - then....then....I have a wire mesh 'roof' that sits atop the pickets - I just lift it off when I want to go into the space. If you are a bunny and can get through all that, then I have a Rottweiler with your name on him.

xo A

ScentScelf said...


Oh...oh, my. You are right. I had not considered heron in that light before, but now that I have...

...and now that I have, I shall direct my attention back to the rabbits. Wishing you the best with your nets and such.

Hey, you don't suppose we could train any herons to redirect their attention to furry hopping things, rather than scaly flopping things?

ScentScelf said...


No, no rabbit fence. Has been considered. Not sure if it was aesthetics that steered me away, or learning that the fence needs to be buried at least 6" under the soil to be effective. (I don't mind working, but there are times when I am lazy. No, that's not a contradiction. ;) )

Wait, 4'? Do you grow tomatoes? You must let them ramble, and not grow them upward? (Mine get taller than stoop height.)

I should be grateful we don't have a deer problem. Though there was one outside my window in the front yard the other day. Probably late for its train.