It seems that while Uncle Jim and I were away visiting Canada this summer, some four legged, beady-eyed pests were making trouble for Auntie in the garden in Menton.
When we got back to Menton this week, Celine told us that something was wrong with one of our mandarin orange trees. It seems that the tree had a disease and on Thursday the gardener was going to take a closer look.
It was obvious that something was wrong. A lot of bark was missing on its upper branches and the gardener thought maybe the tree was diseased. This was bad news.
That mandarin tree was over 50 years old and was a star producer of tasty sweet, perfumed mandarins. I use the little mandarins to make a delicious sorbet, which my Japanese friend said she dreamt about after eating it. They also make excellent juice for Uncle Jim to sip in the morning while he reads the Financial Times.
When Thursday arrived, the gardener carefully slid between the trunks of the trees in our little citrus forest to poke around and get a closer look at the troubling situation. After a few seconds, the branches shook a bit then stopped. They shook a bit more and stopped. After about one nail biting minute, the gardener popped out with the news: our tree didn't have a disease at all. It had rats! That's right, rats were climbing up the tree and eating the bark!
Supposedly this was quite common. After the rats eat all the fruit they keep right on eating. The bark, the gardener said, tastes sweet to them.
This seems to be Auntie's summer of vermin what with raccoons and squirrels stripping bare my grape vines and apple trees in Ottawa and moths making a snack out of my wool sweaters.
|Nellie the Brave|
I think we need a Canadian cat on the scene to get the job done. Like the Canadian Allies who came to help the French during WW2, the two French cats need our help!
|Parsnip the Fearless|
|Archie the Great|