Wednesday, June 27, 2001

The Cat and Kiwi Plant

With the continuing heat wave, the plants are growing rapidly. In an earlier entry, I wrote about our kiwi fruit plant which has been growing at an unbelievable rate. It's now intertwined in the surrounding trees and plants, and, because it's now grown so high that it "looks" through the windows of the second floor of our house, my wife decided to cut the vines back. She left the vines lying in a heap on the ground, and went to cook dinner. As we began our meal, I happened to look outside and noticed a young white camp jump up into the plum tree in our yard. From the tree, it could possibly climb over where we were having dinner and to the kiwi plant. Not wanting to have our dinner disturbed, I stood up, went over and glared at the cat. The cat, catching sight of me, too, stopped midway on the plum tree. However, since it didn't seem as though it was going to run away, I picked a white stick that was nearby and shook it. This surprised the cat, and it jumped down from the tree.

Thinking that the problem had been resolved, the three of us went back to our dinner. But, this time, my daughter mentioned that the cat was sitting unmoving, crouched on the ground. I looked out again and saw the cat postured low on the ground, peering inquiringly under the kiwi trellis. In time, a dark, roundish something appeared. It was a pregnant female cat. It must've, at one time, been someone's pet since it didn't seem to be too concerned about us. With its huge, heavy belly rocking slowly, the cat rubbed its nose against the leaves of the kiwi plant. It was almost as if the cat was trying to say, "This smells soooooo wonderful." Soon, with an ecstatic drunken expression, it began chewing on one of the thicker plant stems. It wasn't long before the white cat made its way slowly to under the vines and began to do the same thing.

It wasn't the first time I'd seen a cat act like this around kiwi fruit, but, all the same, it was an odd feeling. It was something like running across a young couple embraced in a corner of the park. Kiwi plants are from the silvervine family. I'm curious as to whether this mysterious relationship between cats and this plant is coincidental or a wonder of nature that has some special meaning.

Kiwi, or Chinese Gooseberries as it is known to some, are originally from the Anbgtze Valley of Southern China. The first commercial planting in New Zealand was made at the beginning of the 20th Century on the coast of the country's North Island. The Chinese Gooseberry grown in the mountains of Japan is a close relative of this variety, but, due to the recent popularity of imported fruit, the foreign variety is now widely cultivated and it seems that I've seen them a lot in various regions throughout the country. But, from the point of maintaining diversity of life, there is a definite need to be cautious about this type of phenomena.

- MT

Thursday, June 07, 2001

Left-over Sushi

I made sushi for dinner tonight--the first time in a while. For various reasons, I had drifted away from sushi making, so I had to try and "feel" my way back into the process. I made a few little mistakes, though. First of all, I made way too much. Second, I put a little too much of the vinegar mixture into the rice, and, third, I made mistakes in the way I cut some of the fish. The reason I made too much was because, when I made sushi before, my two sons, who are now away at college, were at home, and so I misjudged the amount of rice I needed to cook. I'd forgotten that they used to eat more than the other three of us put together.

It's not that I'm really all that fond of cooking. My repertoire definitely has its limits, but, somehow, making sushi is really fun. Perhaps it's because, using both hands to "create", it reminds me of how I worked hard on my small art projects when I was a child. I started making sushi when our eldest son was still at home, so it's been about four years now. At first, I'd make sushi on my days off, every Thursday, so, as you can imagine, I really was quite obsessed. But, this eventually started taking a toll on our family budget and threw my diet off whenever I made sushi, eating too much red fish, such as tuna, that is high in purine, can cause elevated levels of uric acid in the body, which is what happened to me. Since this, in turn, can lead to gout, I reluctantly had to reduce my sushi intake.

But, having just received some fresh fish from the members of Seicho-No-Ie in Ishikawa Prefecture, where I visited on a lecture tour the other day, I decided to resume my sushi making for the first time in a while. We had red snapper, tile fish, and some other types of fish and calamari. Since I'm not too adept at skinning and de-boning the fish, my wife took care of this, and I was in charge of making the rice mixture, cutting the fish and making it into the nigiri sushi. When my sons lived at home, I'd fill three large platters with sushi, but, today, we couldn't even manage to finish one. After dinner, we were trying to decide what to do with the leftovers--send it overnight delivery to our sons, share with our neighbors, or give some to the stray cats--but, as it turned out, the three of us decided to try and finish it up the next day. Looking at the leftovers, I realized for the first time just exactly how blessed we are to have children who really dig in and enjoy everything (the food) that is prepared for them.

- MT