16 March 2013
“I’m going to the nursery this morning, Flat Kathy,” said Reggie. “Do you want to come along?
“Ooh yes, are we buying some replacement catnip for Miss Tuffy-Cat?” I asked, eagerly climbing into the passenger seat and fastening my seatbelt.
As you may recall from a previous post, the Cat’s ‘nip situation has become dire: the poor dear has been showing withdrawal symptoms, and has even been found on guard duty right next to the few remaining stems and bruised leaves – climbing into the herb barrel is a feat that has required super-feline effort on her part.
She’s also been a little irritable and short-tempered with me lately, probably because Reggie hasn’t been brushing her with catnip every day … because, well, there’s no ‘nip left. Sigh.
When we arrived at Starke Ayres Nursery in Rosebank, we briskly walked over to the large herb section.
“What exactly are we looking for?” I asked, peering at the labels of the many kinds of herbs: thyme, oregano, rosemary, parsley, mint, rocket, basil, chives, violets, rue, lemon balm, chillies, peppers, lavender, sage and pineapple sage… There were so many!
“I want to pick up some lemon thyme, lemon balm, and – of course – catnip!” explained Reggie.
She quickly located a small pot of lemon thyme and another of lemon balm.
“Here, Flat Kathy, have a sniff,” she lightly bruised a leaf of lemon balm, and allowed me to smell it.
“Mmmm, that smells good,” I said, inhaling deeply. “What do you use this for?”
“Lemon balm is also called Melissa officinalis, and it has calming properties,” she explained. “You can steep the leaves in hot water to make a herbal tea. It’s supposed to reduce stress and anxiety, to help against insomnia, to improve appetite and ease indigestion. It’s also supposed to have anti-viral properties, so you make it into a hot tea when you have a cold or flu. You can place a leaf onto wounds or insect bites and stings.”
“And what do you use the lemon thyme for?” I asked, as Reggie rubbed a couple of tiny thyme leaves against me. “Hmmm, that smells good too!”
“I usually sprinkle it into mixed salads,” she replied. “Or if you are preparing meat for the braai, you rub the chops in a mixture of rosemary, lemon thyme and sage, as well as some salt and pepper of course. It’s a very tasty, inexpensive and healthy marinade, with no weird chemicals in it.”
“That sounds delicious,” I said, pointedly. “My tummy is rumbling already…”
Reggie failed to pick up on my subtle hints; she was distractedly searching among the plants, looking at the labels, smelling the leaves, and muttering to herself. “Darnit, I can’t seem to find any catnip…”
Nearby, a friendly young man was busying himself with a rustic-looking broom, sweeping the paving stones clean of leaves and hundreds of teeny-tiny seeds that must have been raining down from the surrounding large trees. Reggie called over to him, “Excuse me… Do you perhaps know whether you have any catnip? I can’t find it on the shelves.”
He helpfully came over to look at the herbs with her; he seemed to know exactly what it looked like, but eventually he too admitted defeat. “I think it must have sold out,” he acknowledged, regretfully.
“Oh dear,” said Reggie. “I have a somewhat cranky cat at home, who has run out of ‘nip.”
“Ahh,” he nodded, sagely, “I understand. Cats can get mighty cantankerous if they don’t get their regular supply of catnip.”
Indeed! How well I knew! We thanked him for his kind assistance, and his understanding of the feline mind, and began to make our way back to the tills with our two herb pots. Suddenly, Reggie stopped next to another cluster of shelves. “Oooh! Look! Flat Kathy, we found it! Photo opportunity!”
She carefully placed me among the small trays containing our treasured catnip. There were six small plants in one of the trays. “We’ll be able to spread these around a bit,” said Reggie, “so that they have a better chance of surviving.”
When we arrived home with our various herb pots, Miss Tuffy-Cat must have caught the scent of the catnip on us, because she was most affectionate. Reggie broke off a leaf and rubbed her all over with it – a deed that was gratefully acknowledged with some very contented purring.
“Are we going to plant them now?” I asked.
“No, we’ll first have to find some way of protecting the small plants,” explained Reggie. “Otherwise they won’t last the night.”
We placed them up high ontop of one of the wall-mounted herb pots, safely out of reach of any but the most ambitious cats. Honestly, if any cat is able to scale that vertical wall to reach the catnip, then I think it has earned itself a couple of leaves!