Touring the Berm Garden with a Guide

(Written on 9/10/10)
Tatu tends to be very aware of the status of everything on the berm garden – which things are ready… and which things she wishes were ready, too! It was late afternoon when she and I were interacting on berm, and she had asked for an APPLE. It was too close to dinner so I signed, SORRY CAN’T. Although I wasn’t able to give her anything from the garden I thought we could, at least, talk about things in the garden. So I signed WHAT THAT? to the apple tree.Tatu of course signed APPLE. I asked APPLE WHAT? She said TREE and I agreed, RIGHT.

dscf4408.jpgWHAT THAT?I asked, this time pointing to the tomatoes. She signed RED. “Tomato” is a compound sign – RED and SLICE together make TOMATO. So I asked RED WHAT? Tatu signed TOMATO (RED-SLICE). I told her YES YOU RIGHT!
 dscf4409.jpgAt this point I thought we could take a tour of the garden, so I asked, TATU YOU WANT LOOK ALL PLANTS? and I started walking away from the tomatoes. I walked all the way to the end of the garden beside the other apple tree. Tatu followed on the ledge. On the way I asked her WHAT THAT? about the flowers, and she signed FLOWER.

dscf4418.jpg Then I asked, WHERE CARROT? Tatu continued toward the carrots and signed THERE.
dscf4419.jpgRIGHT I said and then asked her about the apple tree. After she identified that I headed back and asked about the chives, which Tatu calls ONION GRASS. We passed the carrots and flowers again, and then I paused by the lemon cucumbers. As far as I know, the sign for “cucumber” is like tomato – GREEN-SLICE. However, lemon cucumbers aren’t green! So I asked Tatu, WHAT THAT? and she signed PLANT. I said, YES YOU RIGHT, THAT PLANT. MAYBE YELLOW SLICE? And Tatu said PLANT again.

dscf4417.jpg We moved on, and I stopped again beside the tiny pea plant. Tatu signed BEAN. I said YES! and continued on.

dscf4415.jpg We got to where we had started, and, once past the tomatoes, we paused by the celery. I do not know the sign for celery so I asked, WHAT THAT? YOU KNOW SIGN? Tatu said PLANT. I laughed and said, YES PLANT THERE.

dscf4410.jpg We passed some more chives, and then raspberries, and also the peach tree. Tatu signed about each one.

At the end of the garden, there is a sage plant, which Tatu has called ICE-TREE before – it survives through the winter and sometimes gets snow and ice on it, so it seems to be a sign that she has made up for this particular plant. I asked, WHAT THAT? Tatu replied TREE. I looked at her with a raised brow and was about to ask “what tree?” but she beat me to it and clarified ICE-TREE. (She signs this as a blend, not just ICE and then TREE).

dscf4414.jpg All in all it was a very nice tour and I was happy to have Tatu as a guide!



About Debbie Metzler

Debbie began working with chimpanzees in 2005 while she earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Central Washington University. She continued on to earn a master's degree in primate behavior, and after graduation joined the adjunct faculty in the primate behavior department. Debbie is an experienced coordinator for education, outreach, and advocacy programs. Currently she is working toward putting an end to the exploitation of non-human apes everywhere.
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