I wondered why the marjoram label was regularly covered with compost. We noticed it buried again as we went out for a short walking interval between rainy spells.
I moved to clear it off, but my hand froze mid-air. The cat droppings were a good clue. We made our progression around a new-to-us circuit, on the smooth wet tarmac, but we resolved to investigate the best way to repel cats from vegetable beds when we returned.
A variety of citronella concoctions gave pause: what might they do to the herbs? The herbs are meant, once established, for local folks to pluck to flavour their cooking. But we felt so sorry for the volunteers who carefully weed and maintain the planters around the place. Might a felicitously arranged series of Cat-Scat mats dissuade the feline fecal fomenter from its arrogated toilet? We decided to ask the volunteers, next time we saw them attending to their charges. We might need a few of the mats too, for when the brazen creature discovers our own little planters.
In the meantime, the cat droppings were just offensive. I decided I could as easily dispose of them as could anybody else. I got a trowel to pick the offending material out of the compost, and discovered that the cat’s strategy was not new. Not a nice feeling, doing the picking, but on my return to photograph the tidied place, with the marjoram, bay, dill, rosemary, parsley, oregano, chives and sage all looking healthy, it felt good to have taken care of the dirty.
A slight, ever-so-slight act veering towards the selfless axis, and a feeling of some joyful satisfaction that more than rewarded the effort. Maybe that’s a major component of the volunteer ethos, after all. As Abraham Lincoln was reputed to have said, when asked why he selflessly rescued a litter of piglets from entrapment in a muddy slough, ‘I did it for my own peace of mind.’