Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sedona Brand Catnip

People always find it odd when I tell them how I grew up on a cat nip farm in Arizona. I tell them that a cat nip farm is really no different than any other working farm, no different than a dairy farm nor a cattle ranch. No different than a farm that grows apples in orchards nor oranges in groves. It’s just that our farm specialized in a peculiar crop - cat nip.

Of course, cat nip isn’t peculiar to my family. The Gimbels have been slangin’ nip in the desert for four generations and other than a few acres of Dogwood my father planted in the North 40 many years ago, that’s all we grow.

The subsequent line of questioning is usually pointed at the pets we reared.

“Was it a household full of cats?”

The answer to that would be 'no'. My father was a 'dog' man through and through. Big dogs in fact; Alaskan malamutes. The Sonoran Desert is an odd backdrop for an Alaskan malamute. One wouldn’t expect to see such a canine. Large and majestic with bushy, white and black two-toned fur; all the defining characteristics of a great wolf there among the saguaros and sage brush. One of our malamutes, named Caleb, once killed a neighbor’s pit bull when the dog jumped our fence and threatened several of the area children that my mom babysat back then to make ends meet. Caleb grabbed the terrier by the back of the neck and shook the dog ‘til it went limp and its body flailed with the trajectory of the attack.

That, however, is a different story altogether.