Friday, August 1, 2008

Planting turnips

Peep awoke early on Friday and went in search of Rudy. When she found her Peep said, “Rudy, when should we start watching the mailbox?”

Stretching, Rudy replied casually, “Well, certainly not until after the Daddy leaves. How funny that he caught you in the mailbox yesterday!” Rudy giggled and finally broke into a full cat laugh at the sight of the Daddy peering at Peep in the mailbox. She hadn’t had such a good laugh in months.

“Funny for you, maybe, but embarrassing for me. Imagine him pulling me out of the mailbox like I was a package. Hummph.” Peep didn’t see the humor in it yet. She probably would in a few days, but she was still smarting from the shame of the Daddy finding her in the box. “Do you know when the postman comes? Sometimes Daddy comes home for lunch, and I wouldn’t want him to get the package before we did.”

“Well, it happens that I do know when he comes. He usually comes after lunch, and Daddy never checks the mail until he gets home for the whole day. That means we can just do whatever we want for a few hours, and then take turns guarding the box from under a tree. There’s no reason we need to be uncomfortable. It’s not like we’re going to wait in the box and pounce out at the mailman.” That sent Rudy into giggles again.

Peep rolled her eyes and walked away. It wasn’t like it was Rudy who was going to have to jump up there and climb in the box again. It was her, the Peep, who would have to do it. She decided that a leisurely grooming session and a nap were the thing to do.

The Daddy came home for lunch, and as soon as he’d left, the two cats set out for the mailbox. They hadn’t included LT in any of their plans, because they weren’t sure that LT would approve of their use of Daddy’s PayPal account. They thought that $1.98 wasn’t a lot of money, but it could be more than he’d have wanted to spend.

“Rudy, I didn’t tell you. I talked to the Mommy last night. She was asking the Daddy if he’d come down to Virginia because she’s doing a presentation about the turnips next Thursday. She said she wasn’t sure it was going to be finished, but they were presenting it anyway. I guess that means that the turnips have been grown and dug up and she’s cooking them for people. She probably wants the Daddy to taste her turnips when she gives it to everyone else. She said they get to go to Washington to do this presentation. I wonder if she’ll cook the turnips before she leaves or if she’ll cook them in Washington….”

Rudy was having trouble following Peep’s line of reasoning. “What makes you think she’s cooking the turnips? Maybe it’s just that she’s going to show them off. Sometimes people have contests for the biggest vegetable. Maybe she’s going to harvest it on Wednesday and then take it to Washington on Thursday to have it weighed. I don’t understand why you think she’s cooking it.”

Shaking her head, Peep said matter-of-factly, “It’s because the Mommy is such a good cook. She’d cook the turnips better than anyone else. The Daddy always talks about what a good cook she is.”

“Maybe you’re right, but there’s an equal chance that it’s just how big or how heavy the turnip is, or maybe it’s something else altogether. Maybe the turnip project had to do with using math to grow turnips that have special qualities. I bet they're superhero turnips!” Rudy collapsed giggling again. Everything seemed to be tickling her funny bone today. She didn’t know why she felt so good, but she did.

Peep and Rudy took turns making up wilder and wilder stories about what the Mommy could be doing with turnips while they waiting for the mailman. They’d just come up with an idea that they were growing giant turnips to be used as satellites when the mailman arrived. His van pulled up to the mailbox and they saw him put a bundle of regular envelopes and one very thick orangey one in the box.

After he’d driven away, the cats cautiously approached the box. Rudy checked for cars, and the Peep prepared to make her leap. When Rudy called the all clear, Peep launched herself and landed safely on the top of the mailbox. She carefully opened the box and considered whether she could get in from the top or if she needed to jump down and vault straight into the box. She finally decided that the metal was so smooth that she’d have nothing to hold on to, and so she jumped down and then immediately leaped into the open box.

“Bill, bill, advertisement, bill, bill, ooh, a check, advertisement,” Peep rattled on as she pushed the envelopes aside.

“Whatever are you saying, Peep?”

“Well, that’s what Daddy says when he goes through the mail. If he has more checks than bills he’s happy and if has more bills than checks he complains. I have no idea what bills and checks are, but bills are bad envelopes and checks are good envelopes. Advertisements are garbage.” Peep said the last authoritatively. At least she knew about them.

“Here it is, I think. It’s got a picture of a barn on the front of the envelope. Peep grabbed the thick envelope in her teeth and started to back out. She couldn’t turn around with all the mail in there. She tried to be careful and not fall, but misjudged her last step and flew backwards out of the box with the envelope clutched in her mouth. Peep executed a beautiful mid-air twist and landed squarely on all four paws.

Rudy meowed a cheer, and said, “I’ll give you a 10 on that landing Peep. You nailed it.”

Dropping the envelope, Peep replied, “Thank you, thank you. You’ve been a marvelous audience.” She giggled and picked up the envelope and the two trotted into the back yard. There they opened the envelope and found a smaller one inside. It had a picture of a turnip on one side and lots of writing on the other.

Rudy, being the literate one of the pair, read the instructions for the planting and care of turnips. It seemed simple enough, and they scouted the garden for a likely spot. They figured that if they planted a couple between some other plants, they wouldn’t get mowed by the lawn mower. The planting took a few minutes, and then Rudy went and hid the seed package in a safe place where mice or other animals couldn’t get to it. Seeds were seeds, and any of them would have happily made a meal of the turnip seeds and Peep and Rudy did not want that to happen.

Their jobs done, the cats went for a well-deserved rest. Peep didn’t wake up until the Daddy came home. He came in and sat next to where she was sleeping on the couch and said to her, “Peep, do you know why the mail has paw prints on it?”

Peep just looked innocent and yawned at him. There were some things he was better off not knowing.

Photo courtesy of Travis S. -

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