Looking about for an agreeable task this morning, I decided
it was a good day to harvest and dry some herbs.
I used the dehydrator to process a cutting of basil last month and wasn't best pleased with it--all the bright green color faded away.
I wanted to experiment with using the oven on its lowest setting to dry mint for tea and catnip as a winter treat for the feline residents.
I headed out to the garden with my snips to gather a basket full.
Catnip [nepeta cataria] is naturalized in New England, particularly around old dooryards and gardens.
In Wyoming, I was lucky to nurse one feeble plant through the summer.
Early in April I scattered a few seeds in two small existing plantings I had partially cleared by the side door of our Kentucky house.
When no tiny catnip plants appeared, I sowed more seed--in front of the newly set out roses and in the end of the perennial bed.
Quite suddenly it all germinated and has grown rankly.
I usually remember to break off a few leaves for the cats when I come in from the yard.
I handed out a liberal serving of catnip and began stripping the rest from the stalks.
I spread it on baking sheets and slid them into the oven, set on its lowest heat.
Within moments the pungent aroma of catnip filled the kitchen end of the house.
Cats came out of the woodwork!
Those who had been peacefully dozing appeared from the bedroom.
They walked warily, heads up and nostrils flaring.
J.'s wiley old lady cat, Raisin, picked her way around the burners on the range, snuffing the scent that wafted up through the stove vents.
Charlie gallumphed across the counter to get a closer look.
The whole lot of them acted silly, hyper, paranoid, bumping into each other,
dabbing quick paws out to whack at their companions.
I set a tray of crisp fragrant leaves on the counter to cool and went out to cut apple mint.
A clattering sound and a scrabbling noise drifted out the kitchen window.
"Oh, surely not," I thought. "They have enough catnip on the floor to drug a whole army of cats."
I entered the kitchen, basket on my arm, to see Charlie and Teasel presiding over a mess.
A tumbler of water holding geranium slips had been overturned near the sink;
bits of dried green catnip from the tray were floating in the rapidly spreading puddle.
Teasel said that Charlie dumped the water [he likely did!] and that she was only up there to see what happened.
Teasel watches me clear up the spilled water and floating catnip bits.
"Oh, yummy. I'd like to try this now, please. Why wait til winter?"
Teasel, overcome by temptation, flings herself into the tray of lovely green treat.
She trailed dried catnip across the counter and onto the table, where she flicked the bits onto the cloth.
With the catnip safely stowed in zip-lock bags and a tray of apple mint in the oven,
my help has lost interest.
Teasel sleeping off her "high."
Mrse. B. in a position of abandon after inhaling.
As I have gone in and out of the house all day on various errands to garden and clothesline, I've thought
someone should capture the scent of drying mint [apple mint and peppermint] and catnip.
It is a far more refreshing scent than the cloying fug of the candle aisle in Wal Mart!
I offered the kittens a sprig of catnip several days ago and they were not interested.
When I visited them this afternoon they went quite silly over the herbal odor clinging to my hands and clothing.
I've considered making catnip "mice" for my feline-loving friends,
or sending neat packets of the dried stuff--but wonder what are the chances of it being mistaken for
another dried green substance?