Junah Tales by M.R. Neer
Carrots and Burrows
Sitting on the stone pathway by the white picket fence, Junah Cat was recovering from his unusual experience in the Herb Corner. Ralph Rabbit came hopping over.
“Hey, Junah, you okay?” asked Ralph. “I heard you yelping like you were hurt or something.”
“Yeah, I’m okay now,” said Junah. “I ran into an herb that I liked too much and one that I didn’t like at all.”
“It was catnip and rosemary,” explained Mo, “that got him so upset.”
“Oh, I’ve heard of those,” said Ralph. “You gotta know what works for you, I think.”
“Yeah, I guess so,” said Junah. “I sure am learning a lot about this garden.”
“Not only by observing,” said Mo with a laugh, “but also by getting really IN the garden.”
“I guess my curiosity really got the best of me this time,” smiled Junah.
“Well, since you’re learning more about the garden, Junah,” said Ralph. “I just thought of a tip that might help you out.”
“What’s that, Ralph?” responded Junah.
“Well, you know how you got INTO the garden?” said Ralph. “Well, sometimes it helps to get INSIDE the garden.”
“What do you mean?” asked Junah. “What’s the difference?”
“Sometimes if you go deep inside something, you find out why it’s good for you,” explained Ralph.
“Oh, you mean like when I go inside my mouse hole, I feel safe?” asked Mo.
“Yes, exactly,” said Ralph. “When we rabbits burrow into the ground, we go inside the grass and inside the soil, and even into a deeper level of the soil where we make our tunnels.”
“Oh, you live in tunnels in the ground?” asked Junah. “I didn’t know that. Don’t you worry that you’ll get stuck down there?”
“Nope, we make sure we have many ways to go in and out,” said Ralph. “In fact, sometimes we find a hole in a tree trunk and dig down under that. That’s what I mean by going inside things.”
“That’s true,” said Mo. “I know sometimes I have to dig in the ground a little to find some food.”
“That’s a good point, Mo,” added Ralph. “The food you can eat is often several layers inside something.”
“The sisters give me food now,” said Junah. “What do you mean?”
“Well, come with me over to the Root Corner, and I’ll show you,” said Ralph. Junah got up, carefully testing that his paws didn’t hurt anymore. The three friends hopped, scooted, and scampered over to the Root Corner.
“What’s growing in here?” asked Junah. “I just see a lot of different green leaves.”
“Most of what’s here that you can eat is hidden below the ground,” said Ralph. “There are beets, sweet potatoes, radishes, onions, turnips, parsnips, ginger, turmeric, and more.”
Ralph pointed to the thin, curly leaves shooting up from the ground in parts of the patch. “See those leaves. They tell me my favorite food is hidden inside the garden there,” said Ralph. He proceeded to dig and pulled a long orange carrot out of the dark brown earth. “See, this is the treasure I find when I look deeper.”
“Oh, I get it,” said Junah. “It’s like when we saw the Crow and the orange. The orange covering wasn’t good for him. He had to poke into the skin to find the juice. He had to go inside the surface layer.”
“Yes, that’s a good example, Junah,” said Ralph.
“I’ve got another one,” said Mo, excited to share ideas. “When Sandy Squirrel wants to eat nuts, she has to crack open the shell.”
“Of course,” said Ralph. “So that’s my tip, Junah. Now I’ve got to take this carrot over to my bunnies. See you.”
As Ralph hopped off to the other side of the garden where his burrow was located, Junah pondered what Ralph had shown him.
“You know, Mo,” said Junah, “Ralph may have given us a key to the secret of the garden.”
“How so?” asked Mo.
“Well, a secret is a secret because it’s hidden,” said Junah. “I’ve been looking at the surface of what’s going on in the garden. Maybe I need to look deeper. Maybe the secret is a deeper layer of what you and I already see.”
“That feels right, Junah,” said Mo. “Let’s be sure we look inside things to check different layers as we explore.”
Junah’s purr: Life is found in layers.
Stay tuned! Episode 19 will come your way in two weeks.