Gardening is Relaxing, Right?

Thread Prompt #4: Tend the communal garden

POSTED: Sat Aug 09, 2014 9:36 pm

Despite the pair of rambunctious puppies in the house, it seemed so empty now. Ascher was gone. Aspen had never seen it coming, but he had gone to try to Saul, and she didn’t know what to do. This was her home; if there weren’t puppies to take care of, she would simply have gone with him, and part of her wished she had. But they needed a steady life, and she could provide that for them here, for the most part.

She was still feeling a bit strange from being kicked by one of the horses, too, which she supposed was from the concussion she got, whatever that was. All she knew is that her head hurt for days and she had felt a bit like she was in a fog. At least her ribs had stopped hurting. Still, she was taking it a bit easy again, which included not helping with the horses for a couple of days.

It was terrible timing, having Ascher leave after that happened, although it was clear she would be alright physically. However, she was not good at sitting around doing nothing, and it only left her with too much time to wonder if Asch would ever come back. So, she decided she would do something to help the pack: water the communal gardens. Aspen knew little about caring for plants, although she had an aloe plant that she was managing to keep alive. Watering them was something she could easily do, so she took a couple of wineskins to the garden and got to work. Maybe someone would come along who could tell her which plants were weeds that could be pulled.
Aspen


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Luperci Livestock Manager + Cook + Stable Hand Head of the Starfa Tier
looking for heaven
believe in what i am
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POSTED: Sun Aug 24, 2014 7:05 pm

OOC: O hai! I hope you don't mind Inara joining in. I'm afraid she doesn't know much about plants either but maybe the two of them together could muddle through. And maybe Finch is around to help them figure things out? Also, let me know if anything needs changing, particularly in regards to Ascher.

IC:

Today was going to be the day: she was going to visit the Communal Gardens properly. Inara had woken up with the rising sun with this thought in mind. For the past five months she'd all but passed through them and the guilt of avoiding them had left her with nightmares of pack banishment and canine-eating plant monsters. It was silly, she knew. After all, she preferred horticulture to animal rearing. Livestock made her nervous, with their unpredictability and strange noises. Plants, on the other hand, were quiet, relaxing, and, for the most part, harmless. So why she had been avoiding the Gardens all this time, Inara couldn't really say. Mostly it was out of embarrassment for having hardly any knowledge about gardening, but partially because she was working on other things also. Still, she was a member of this pack and as such, she expected herself to help out in all areas. Except maybe with the livestock. But perhaps that would come at a later time.

Stepping softly into the Gardens, Inara had was discouraged to find the area seemingly abandoned. Standing awkwardly for a number of seconds, the little Hollr lowered her ears and considered coming back later until a grey shape from behind a thick bushel of herbs stirred and caught the coydog's attention. Inhaling slowly to calm her silly nerves, Inara pressed forward towards the canine, wondering who it was that taking on the chores of gardening by him-or-herself. The first being that came to mind was Finch, who's coat, though darker, could maybe be mistaken for something lighter in the sun. Instead, as Inara rounded the corner of the plot, she was surprised by the timid figure of Aspen the livestock manager.

"Oh." Inara said softly, then smiled and nodded to the new mother happily. "Hi Aspen. I'm sorry, I didn't expect to see you here."
Honestly, the little coydog was relieved. She liked Aspen, who was quiet and respectful like herself, though she admittedly hadn't interacted with her enough. She was also Ascher's mate and she respected the scholarly male a great deal. Idly, she wondered where he had been lately. His absence hadn't gone unnoticed, despite how busy she'd kept herself working towards becoming a Vald. But the couple had recently welcomed new pups. For all she knew, he was spending all his time helping to raise the young ones.
"How are you?" She asked, still smiling. "And how are the pups? Um... Ode and... Shore? Is Ascher watching them today?"

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Mandi
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POSTED: Wed Aug 27, 2014 10:17 pm

OOC: yay thanks for joining :D and that sounds good to me! Asch info looks good. There wouldn't have been any big announcement or anything - he'd have simply left quietly.

IC:
As Aspen watered the plants, she was probably a bit more careful than she actually needed to be, however they looked like they might be fragile and she did not want to be responsible for damaging them.her ears flicked as she listened to her packmates move around, and then footsteps grew closer to her, causing Aspen to look up to see who it was.

"Oh, h-hi, Inara," Aspen said with a small smile, "yes, I don't usually tend the garden. I'm more used to the animals." She liked Inara, and Asch had talked about her a bit as well. She wasn't sure she could consider the other female a friend yet, only because she didn't know her well, but Aspen thought that maybe they could become friends. She could use more of those, especially now that she was alone again.

Her smile grew a bit at the mention of her puppies, and she nodded to indicate that the names she said were correct, but the smile faded when Inara mentioned Ascher. His leaving wasn't officially announced, and she hadn't been going around telling everyone, so she knew it was simply an honest mistake. Still, thinking about it hurt, and she guessed it would for quite a while.

"Oh they're.. He's..." Aspen wasn't sure what to say at first. The topic flustered her since she didn't want to speak badly of him, even if she was upset that he left. "They're with my cat, Major," Aspen told her. It might seem odd, but he was a giant cat, and still outweighed them but a fair amount, so he would be able to keep them in line. "Ascher um... H-he left. To go find Saul." She wasn't sure what else to say about that, especially since she wasn't one to express her opinion on any matter too often, unless it had to do directly with her puppies or the pack's livestock.
Aspen


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Myst
Luperci Livestock Manager + Cook + Stable Hand Head of the Starfa Tier
looking for heaven
believe in what i am
because it's all i have today
and tomorrow,
who knows where we'll be

POSTED: Mon Sep 01, 2014 12:16 am

Two quick waves of a monochrome tail responded on its own accord at Aspen's acknowledgement of the little coydog while her friendly smile touched heterochromatic irises, skin and fur wrinkling gently at the corners of her eyes. Inara took a couple of steps nearer to the small wolfdog before dipping her long nose in a brief nod. She recognized that Aspen was more proficient in animal husbandry than in horticulture, which was primarily the reason she'd been so surprised to see her in the Communal Gardens. Not that Inara was a common fixture in the gardens. For all she knew, Aspen was just as curious seeing her in the gardens.

How the slight wolfdog could handle such large, unpredictable ungulates was beyond Inara but she found herself feeling a deeper sense of respect towards Aspen because of it. She acknowledged the comment with another nod and a knowing grin. Everyone one of those hoofed creatures was a mystery to the little coydog, their smells, noises, and behaviors filling Inara with anxiety before she even got near enough to touch them. But still... Still, someday she would overcome her fears and maybe Aspen would be there to help her.

Another sweep of her bushy tail flicked behind her when Aspen confirmed she'd remembered the pups' names correctly. There had been so many births this season, so many new lives, so many new faces and names to remember. Despite her busy schedule, Inara had been determined to remember every new member - pups or otherwise. She felt that it was something that would be expected of her when she finally became a Vald.

Noting Aspen's sudden change in demeanor, Inara was pulled out of her thoughts and focused on her companion once more. Her smile had faded and she looked suddenly sad to the little Hollr. Had she said something wrong? Inara felt pang of uncertainty, thinking back to what she had said, but then the new mother spoke. Tall ears honed in on her voice, her own smile gone, and an anxious buzzing in her nerves. And then there it was - the bombshell.

Mismatched eyes looked into Aspen's uncertainly before Inara seemed to visibly wilt. She knew how hard Saul's departure had been for Ascher but she never expected he would leave his mate and pups behind. Part of her was worried for him but most of her was sad for Aspen, who had two younsters to care for all by herself. It just didn't seem right.
"Oh, Aspen... I'm so sorry." She said softly, emotion welling up in her eyes and voice. She didn't know what to say. What was there to say? All she could do was sympathize. "I, um... I mean, I'm not a... a mom by any means, but... Well, if you ever need any help... will you let me know? What I mean is, I'd be happy to help you with anything you need - pupsitting or hunting or cooking or, well, anything." Inara allowed her smile to return and though it was encouraging there was a certain sadness to it that reinforced her sympathy towards Aspen's situation.

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Mandi
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POSTED: Tue Sep 09, 2014 8:24 am

Aspen nodded to the sympathetic apology. It was all anyone could really say since words wouldn't make Ascher change his mind and come home, unless they were said to him directly, which Aspen had not done before he left. The wolfdog didn't expect anyone to be able to make it better, but it was nice knowing they cared, and she could hear the sincerity in Inara's voice.

Although she was ashamed to admit it, even just to herself, Aspen had sometimes felt a small amount of jealousy when Asch would come home smelling of Inara, simply the transfer of scents that happened from being around another. She had a bit of a territorial streak in her, but she also recognized that it would be silly to try to keep Ascher from having female friends. There was no point anyway since she trusted Ascher.

"Th-thank you," Aspen said, trying to push back the emptiness she had been feeling since Ascher's departure while starting to water some of the plants. The more she had been doing that, the worse it had been getting, but she did not want to break down now.

"I-it would be nice. Um, I leave them with Major sometimes - my cat - but I think soon he might not be able um, to handle them." He was a large cat, and they still slept a lot, but soon enough they might be able to reach the door handle and then they could escape. It would also be good for the puppies to meet more members of the pack, and just different canines in general.

Aspen moved over to the next plant and started pouring a little bit of water on it before looking closer and bending down with a slight frown. She was not actually sure if this one was a weed or not.

"Do you um, think this is part of the garden or a weed?" Aspen asked and then her ears tucked back again for a moment. The subject change was a bit abrupt, but she had never been the most adept at social situations.
Aspen


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Myst
Luperci Livestock Manager + Cook + Stable Hand Head of the Starfa Tier
looking for heaven
believe in what i am
because it's all i have today
and tomorrow,
who knows where we'll be

POSTED: Wed Sep 10, 2014 12:13 am

OOC: Hope you don't mind Finch joining in to give them a little guidance c: Let me know if not okay and I'll edit!

IC:

Inara considered Aspen curiously, thinking about the idea of a cat caring for a pair of wolf pups. They were still young, easy to monitor and tend to their basic needs, but a cat could only do so much. Setting her jaw, mismatched eyes blazed with sudden determination and the the little coydog dipped her long nose once. That was it. She would do whatever she could to help Aspen out. Pups needed to be raised around other canines, although she supposed the aid of a cat wouldn't harm. And what else was expected of Inara, really? She held no rank of great demand and her work towards becoming a Vald could be pushed back a little more. The livelihoods of developing youth were more important than her own personal gains.

Looking at Aspen with knitted brows, Inara reached out and touched the slight wolfdog's shoulder lightly.
"It would be a pleasure to help you, Aspen. Truly." She said softly, her small smile now replaced with raw seriousness. If Inara knew anything, it was how exhausting and consuming taking care of others could be. Not that it was the same, she figured. Raising one's own pups couldn't be like caring for a developmentally challenged sibling, could it? Still, being a single parent couldn't be easy. "Do you mind if I stop over tonight with some dinner? I was going to make some rabbit stew but... well it's only me so I'll have plenty." She was smiling again, the corners of her lips turn up affably. "And I'd love to meet them, your pups - Ode and Shore."

Attention turned back on the task at hand, Inara tilted her head slightly to the side and studied the green vegetation in question. In all honesty, she knew very little about plants, but she held her gaze a little longer as if she was comparing the appearance of the little green thing to useful plants she knew. After a couple seconds, and coming up with nothing, Inara snorted and let out a sudden laugh. Who was she trying to kid anyway? Plants weren't her thing!
"I don't know!" She laughed, raising a single paw up to her maw almost apologetically. "It looks like a weed to me, but..." She laughed again. "Well, it all looks like weeds!"
"That is a weed. Pull it." The sudden, emotionless voice from behind the pair caused Inara to start and turn sharply. Finch's dark form, taller than both of them by almost a foot, stood watching them. The little coydog thought about the last time she'd interacted with the wolf and felt herself shudder slightly. Had it only been a couple of weeks ago since she and Shiloh had come across that wounded coyote? Finch had acted appropriately, if not remorselessly, when she ended the dying canine's life. Most of Inara held the mysterious herbalist with deep respect but a part of her was scared of Finch. The brown wolf nodded at the little weed and said again, more encouragingly this time, "Weeds are a danger to the herbs we're growing. Go ahead, pull it."
Inara glanced at Aspen, then reached out and yanked the young nuisance out from the soil and held it out uncertainly. Finch pointed to a cleared post, "Find more like that one and pile all the weeds here. I'll take care of them when you're done."

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Mandi
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POSTED: Sat Sep 13, 2014 12:35 am

OOC: good idea! x) at least one of them won't be completely lost, haha.

IC:
"Y-yes, I would like that," Aspen nodded. One nice thing about having only a sparsly decorated house was that it meant she did not have to worry too much about whether or not it was clean when someone wanted to come over. There were probably just a few things on the table that Taro had built her. Having someone over was stressful, but that helped, at least. And Inara seemed like a calm canine like herself, which would also help.

"And I'm sure they would, too," she added. One problem with being shy was that Aspen was afraid her puppies weren't meeting enough other canines. They spent a lot of time with her cats, Major and his equally grumpy son, Sarge. Luckily it did not seem as though the girls were picking up the bad attitudes from the felines, possibly because Major was much more tolerant of them than he was of visitors.

As she stood contemplating the plant in question, the sudden voice caused Aspen to jump and turn with a quiet yelp of surprise. Her eyes were wide and her ears tucked as she saw Finch, who continued speaking. Aspen nodded, listening to her explanation of why the weeds needed to go. She then looked at Inara and back down at the plant and watched as she pulled it. It definitely looked different from the ones around it now that she knew it was a weed.

"O-okay," Aspen said to Finch. She wasn't sure what she planned to do with the weeds, but that did not really matter. She'd pile them where Finch had told them to. "Th-this one looks the same, I um, I think," Aspen said, pointing to the weed with a glance up at Finch, who nodded. The Starfa Rikr tugged on the weed and it came up, bringing small clumps of dirt with it.

"Shake the dirt off a bit," Finch told her and Aspen did so before taking it over to put in the empty patch. When she looked back at the garden, she could see that there was a fair amount of weeds still growing and it made her wonder if they grew quicker than the other plants, though she didn't voice that question.

"S-seems easy enough, right?" She said to Inara.
Aspen


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Myst
Luperci Livestock Manager + Cook + Stable Hand Head of the Starfa Tier
looking for heaven
believe in what i am
because it's all i have today
and tomorrow,
who knows where we'll be

POSTED: Sat Sep 20, 2014 1:54 am

The coydog's thick tail swept back and forth a few times, happy that her offer hadn't been denied. And anxious, albeit excitedly, at the prospect of meeting one of Vinátta's first litters since she joined the pack nearly six months ago. Inara liked pups, their simplicity and innocence allowing her to forget the less savory aspects of life, though her experience with them was lacking. She tried to think about the last time she had had to entertain a pup and only Lottie's bold face surfaced, unreadable and unamused as always. Despite being the same age, her sister's stunted development allowed Inara to experience a little of what raising a pup could be like. Except Lottie presented the extra challenge of a disability so teaching her anything she wasn't interested in nearly impossible. They got by though, Inara thought with some pride, despite the challenges. Lottie excelled at the things she found interesting, sometimes surpassing even Inara, despite her consistent shortcomings with social interactions and verbal cues.
Pulling herself out of her thoughts, Inara smiled at Aspen happily and nodded.
"Great!" She said, her tail wagging behind her again. "I'll be by near dusk then, unless that doesn't work for you of course." Her grin grew, touching her mismatched eyes gleefully until she creases wrinkled at their corners. "I can't wait to meet your pups!"

With Finch at their sides now, assisting them in their attempts at horticulture, Inara watched as Aspen picked out another offending weed and ended its development in one fell swoop at the dark wolf's silent encouragement. Curious, but suddenly too self-conscious to ask, Inara wondered what the importance was of shaking the dirt off before the green parasites were tossed away. Immediately her mind went to work formulating potential reasons: perhaps the combined weight of all that dirt would make the mound too heavy; maybe there were important nutrients in the dirt that the delicate herbs needed; it could be that there were valuable seeds in the dirt that the didn't want to waste. The coydog had no idea, but these things seemed logical to her based on what little she'd learned in her old tribe.
She glanced at Aspen and nodded agreeably, "Yeah, I think so." She said, looking back at the various plants. She studied the bed carefully before picking out a grouping of green that appeared different from the rest and, glancing at Finch first before pulling it, ripped its roots from the soil and shook off the dirt before tossing it on the pile. Pleased with herself, Inara smiled and said, "Sure, easy as snaring!"

While they worked, water and weeding the gardens, Inara considered how little she knew about Aspen and felt her success with the weeds created a sense of confidence she couldn't ignore. Pulling up another devious infiltrator, Inara casually began to talk, "So you have a cat?" She asked, glancing quickly up at Aspen. She thought about Shiloh and her affinity for cats and remembered how she'd decided she would like a companion like that in a effort to dispel the loneliness. "Can I... May I ask what it's like? Living with a cat? It's just that... I was thinking that maybe... well, maybe one day I'd like to offer a home to one." Inara said, becoming still in her search for more weeds to focus on her discussion. "What's it like? Living with another species like a cat? I've... never... well, I've only ever lived with, well, canines." She scoffed at herself kindly, smiling softly at Aspen.

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Mandi
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POSTED: Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:27 pm

When Inara asked about what it was like to live with a cat, Aspen's mind went right to what it was like having Major around. There was a swelling feeling in her chest; he had been a steadfast companion, with her through two males leaving her. He was the first family she'd had since she was separated from her birth pack. However, Aspen reigned this in, knowing that it was not what Inara was really asking about.

"Well um, living with a cat is interesting," she replied, and then realized that the answer didn't help much at all. "It um, really depends on the cat, I think. Major is pretty grumpy and he really only seems to like me and my puppies for canines." She guessed that it was because she had saved him from becoming a meal, and the puppies were part of their family. He had been the first to declare that she and him were family, after all.

"Major's son, Sarge, seems to take after his father. Um, but, Ascher's cat, Thof is much more pleasant than the pair of them." That was mostly true; she could be moody at times, too. "She's um, the mother of the kittens." She added as she found and pulled another weed.

"I um, I like living with cats. They sleep with us, and sometimes Major brings us food." He was a very large cat, which meant that sometimes he brought back rabbits. "There are more kittens than just Sarge. Um, you can meet them when you stop by if you want." The kittens were old enough to be on their own now and seemed to split their time between Aspen's house and Ascher's, although now with Ascher gone, they were at her house a lot more. Aspen thought that maybe one of them would get along with Inara.
Aspen


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Myst
Luperci Livestock Manager + Cook + Stable Hand Head of the Starfa Tier
looking for heaven
believe in what i am
because it's all i have today
and tomorrow,
who knows where we'll be

POSTED: Fri Oct 10, 2014 9:13 pm

Allowing Aspen to think, Inara sought out a few more insidious weeds and pulled on their green little bodies until their roots pulled away from the soil. She studied the latest harvest curiously, comparing it closely with the resident plants, before tossing it away on the pile of discarded vegetation. The task, while immediately rewarding, was becoming a bit tedious and redundant so she was glad for the distraction again when Aspen answered her.

Inara considered her packmate's response thoughtfully. So cats, it seemed, had just as much variety in personality as canines did. The idea of it made the little coydog wag her tail happily.
"It almost sounds like living with other canines!" She said, mismatched eyes focused on Aspen. "Except, well... the obvious. I mean, of course it's different but... anyway... I'd love to meet the kittens, too. Is Major their father?"
She paused, thinking, before continuing, "It gets so lonely sometimes, living by myself... I mean, I'm getting used to it, but it's so... different than what I grew up with. Daytime isn't so bad, but at night... Well, maybe having a cat would help with that. Do you think?"

The little coydog was feeling more and more excited at the prospect of visiting Aspen's abode: making supper for them, seeing the puppies, meeting the kittens - it made her feel useful and liked. She could hardly wait to finish up their gardening adventure so she could prepare for the evening.

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