I’ve always wondered what pets think about gardening. What are they thinking when they hop up and dig holes in freshly planted beds? Is it that they’re chasing a little chipmunk who has burrowed, and are trying to be heroes? Or is the compost just so delicious-smelling that our pets want to submerge themselves in it and roll around?
The world may never know, but that’s what I love about this cute piece from Eva Kosinski, called Tinkerbell’s Tale: A cat’s-eye view of gardening. In this piece, she has generously allowed her furry feline to tell the tale of a day in Eva’s garden. “Now she’s digging holes! Let’s get my head in there to see what’s what. Hey, watch where you put that trowel—I’m looking here!” says Tinkerbell.
This piece made me chuckle, but it also made me wonder really what IS going through the minds of our pets when they see us awaken from our winter slumbers and go outside to start digging in the dirt. Maybe they think it’s a game… or maybe they think we’ve constructed large litter boxes. I don’t know, but according to Tinkerbell, when you see a cat in the garden, it all sounds very innocent to me.
When You See a Cat in the Garden, Give them a Pen
This story about Animals in the Garden comes from our archive that spans over 30 years and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. Pieces like these that bring out the best parts of gardening always brighten up my day, and I hope it does for you as well. Enjoy!
A cat’s-eye view of gardening.
By Eva Kosinski
Tinkerbell first started visiting last year, when her owner (if cats could be said to have such things) moved in two houses down. She’s become the darling of the neighborhood, our little wanderer. Her fan club includes families four blocks away. She makes sure to check in on everyone at least a couple of times a week. We may elect her mayor. When I told her about your magazine, she was delighted to write a bit about her experiences.
The first thing you need to know is that all the stories about me have been exaggerated. Yes, I did bring half-dead mice onto the porch, throw them up in the air, and then chase them around the house. I did jump into the car when it was time to bring the kid next door home from school. And I did almost get on the school bus once—because it seemed like they were going somewhere interesting.
But I don’t do these things all the time. I just can’t stand to be bored, and I love to visit people. One of my favorite places, however, is Eva’s garden.
You know how it goes: The sun is up, the sky is blue, and the lady of the house (who fancies herself my owner) is off to work, so out the cat door I go. I love this neighborhood — especially the leash laws for dogs (smirk-chuckle).
First, let’s jump up to the window near the steps and see if Eva’s home. Yep, she’s got her cup of coffee and cereal, and she’s watching the news. Won’t be long before she’s ready to hit the garden. Look! She sees me and is waving, as though to say, “OK, hold on, I’ll be there in a bit.” So I go to the side of the house, jump the fence, and go around to her patio door to wait (these humans can be quite slow). Oh, look, there’s my reflection in the patio door.
Gorgeous! Eva says I have “Cleopatra eyes” because my eyes are green-gold and I look like someone went nuts with the eyeliner. I’m pretty darn cute, with my little pink heart that says “I go home” on one side and a phone number on the other. (I won’t talk about the stinking bell around my neck that scares the birds before I can get them.) Eva calls me a “mush bug” because I’ll even roll over on my back and let her pet my tummy. But only if I’m in the mood.
Here she comes! She’s got the hat. She’s got the gloves. Yippee! She’s going to the garden. Oops, she almost fell. I’m not trying to trip her, but she walks so slowly and seems surprised when I brush by in my hurry to get there.
She’s opening that little building where all the intriguing smells are: fertilizer, bags of dirt, old pots from last year, rakes, and hoes, and all that. I slip easily under the wheelbarrow and look for spiders to chase. Now she’s bringing out little pots, I see. She’s not going to the garden yet. She’s going to the patio.
She’s got baby plants on the back patio, and she’s going to put them in bigger pots. Yuck—she’s got the hose out! I move way over here while she rinses the pots: I’m not a fan of unexpected showers.
Ah, now she’s sitting down to work. I leap onto the table to have a closer look. This flat is empty. Yup, I just fit. I can lie here and watch her put the baby seedlings into trays and bigger pots. She waters them—not with a hose—but using the watering can with the big long snout. That puts the water where she— and I—want it. Now she’s taking some bigger plants and putting them into the wagon. She’s going to go to the garden! If I run really fast, I can beat her there—see? Now she’s digging holes! Let’s get my head in there to see what’s what. Hey, watch where you put that trowel—I’m looking here!
Nothing interesting in this hole. Maybe the next one . . . nope.
I think I’ll go over to the curbstones, they are so nice and warm in the sun. I can just sit here and watch as she takes the plants from their trays, one after the other, and puts them in the holes she dug. I love garden work. I could watch her do it all day. Every once in a while, she looks up, so I go over and get a few pats. I deserve them.
Oh—sorry! I have to leave now. I just saw something move in the day lily patch. Scrunch down and sneak, slowly, very, very slowly, so that bell doesn’t give me away. Yep, it’s a mouse. I am Tinkerbell, the mighty hunter. This is going to be fun! ❖
By Eva Kosinski, published originally in 2016, in GreenPrints Issue #105. Illustrations by Nicole Tamarin.
Did you enjoy this Animals in the Garden story? Do you think your pet has an inner monologue too? What do you think they’re saying when they watch you garden?