Until we moved to Moscow nine years ago, my husband, Lee, and I had lived on the west side of the Cascade Mountains for all our lives.
Over there, we thought of blackberry bushes as invasive beasts. The brambles could virtually choke a lawn, snake their way up the side of a house, and climb inside through an open window. Here on the Palouse, nurseries actually sell blackberry bushes, neatly contained in pots. When I first saw them for sale, lined up with the blueberry and raspberry plants, I laughed. Oh, you naive east-siders, I thought.
Eventually, though, our family started missing homemade blackberry pies and jam, so I checked the market price of one puny half-pint. For half a mortgage payment, I could buy enough fresh berries for a pie. So this spring, I caved and bought six bare-root blackberry starts, which Lee planted in a raised bed in our side yard. They look so harmless and meek now, our six little twigs, depending on us for water and mulch. But we’re wise to their con job.
Next year, when the plants bulk up, we’ll be out on patrol along the edge of the garden bed. At the first sign of an escaping bramble, we’ll be ready, with a long-bladed shovel.
We’re also involved in another prickly situation at our house. In early March, I wrote a column about an infatuation between Benjamin BadKitten and a blonde cat from our neighborhood. The two apparently rendezvoused a few times near our front porch, but the flame seemed to have sizzled, and we didn’t see the blonde again. But at 3 a.m. one night last week, I woke up to hissing and growling, which seemed to be coming from my writing room. I stumbled in and turned on the overhead light. Tessa the Vague, our 19-year-old calico, is usually an afterthought in this column, because her name is an understatement. But the old girl’s got game. Tess had backed the growling blonde cat into a corner, while BBK stood, tense and silent, probably torn between protecting his turf and defending his fiancee. Apparently, he and Blondie had reconciled. After midnight, she must have come into our laundry room through the cat door, passed through the kitchen, living and dining rooms, and continued down the hallway to my writing room. That was one brash babe.
I yelped, and all three of the cats scattered. I started a quick, frantic search, imagining the blonde cat hiding somewhere in the house. When I checked the laundry room and looked out its window, I saw her sitting outside, calmly watching me. I snapped shut the cat door’s closure panel, but then remembered that Benjamin knows how to use his claws to pry it off. So I shut him out of the laundry room, keeping him inside — and the blonde outside — for the rest of the night.
Since last week — and I truly wish I were making this up — I’ve found Blondie at 6 a.m., padding down our hallway, on her way to Lee’s office. She has also peered in at us from the living room window, lurked around our patio and climbed a prickly bush outside my writing room, to perch on a windowsill and spy. She is stalking my BadKitten. Unfortunately, as an ’80s country-pop song makes clear, she’s been looking for love in all the wrong places. Speaking euphemistically, BBK has been out of the dating pool for more than 10 years. But here’s the mystery: why did he recently ask me to order a large pizza, loaded with anchovies and sardines, to be delivered to our house at 3 a.m.?
Sydney Craft Rozen fervently hopes her next column won’t be about a feline shotgun wedding. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org