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Protecting My Investment

February 11, 2013

The original house on our property still stands…it’s been re-purposed a few times over the years, but it’s still there. It’s a small structure, measuring just 16’ x 20‘. After the big house was built, on about 1940 or so, the little building became a pump house, first sheltering a sand point, and later, a drilled well. When that well gave out a few years back, and we had a new one drilled, much deeper, and in different part of the yard. So now, we were turning the little shack into a sewing room for me.

Jim’s task for the day was to install new windows. I was working in the perennial flower gardens around the building. I wanted to stay close by in case he needed help. And there was a problem with the gardens; a problem I meant to solve.

My flowers were dying at an alarming rate…and I needed to find out why. I’d lost a few oriental poppies, some wild roses, Asian lilies, and many daylilies and irises. Expensive German bearded irises.

I began my inspection. The leaves looked fine; they hadn’t been eaten and there was no discoloration. No bugs, either. I checked for slugs but found none. I dug deeper, literally, and found the problem…something was eating the roots.

I scratched my head as I sat back on my heels, trying to figure out what kind of critter would eat roots. Mice? Moles? Did squirrels burrow? I had no idea.

I rose, intending to check the plants to my left, when I felt something strange underfoot. Something soft…something alive…an animal of some sort.  And it was pushing back. From beneath the landscape and white rock, from down in the dirt.  I stepped a little harder, and it pushed back, again.

What could it be? Did I even want to know?

Then, I reflected on the trips Lynn and I made to the local greenhouses. What fun we’d had on our annual pilgrimages! And how we agonized over which plants to choose. And how much we’d spent…

And now something was eating my investment. This was serious!

I double checked the cushy spot beneath my right foot, and as I suspected, it was still there…still pushing back…more persistently than before. I was making it mad, whatever it was. Not that I blamed it. I’d be mad, too.  

‘Hey, Hon? Come check this out…’ I called. But, a man in the middle of framing in a window isn’t easily distracted.  Understandably so, and for good reason.

I didn’t dare move my foot…lest the little bugger run off. Then I’d never know what, or who, was killing my flowers.

Jim couldn’t spare but one hand, his left, and I couldn’t move my foot, so we were in a pickle, for sure. Finally, he suggested, rather strongly, that I deal with it myself. Then, he managed to toss me a hammer. My hammer…the one with the faded red, aka pink, handle. It landed just wide of my right foot.

Slowly, I knelt down and picked it up. I was poised and ready for action as I prepared to ease my foot off my prey. Carefully, I slid my foot a few inches to the right, simultaneously delivering a series of sharp blows, taking care not to whack my toes.

And soon, a very dazed chipmunk popped up through a hole in the landscape fabric and rock mulch, staggering about like a drunken sailor. His path was more circuitous and far less purposeful than what’s normal for his species, thanks to my twenty-ounce hammer, so I could easily keep pace with him…anticipating his next move proved to be a challenge.  

For a time, he zigged, and I zagged, reminding me of that carnival game where you have to guess which hole the gopher is going to pop through next and then smack him on the head with a mallet. It was a lot like that…only with a real chipmunk instead of a fake gopher.

I was glad Jim was busy with the window, out of sight.   An audience would have been distracting.  He could hear, though and he offered an occasional comment or two…comments I chose to ignore. .

Dispatching an unruly chipmunk required my complete attention, focus and concentration.

Now here’s my little secret…I’m not known for my coordination.  My husband can vouch for that.  In fact, I have a reputation for being kind of a klutz.  So I really had to concentrate to get this little varmint.  No need to make him suffer any longer than necessary.  But he had to go;  this was my garden, not his buffet.  And I was bigger than him.

At last, my hammer found its mark and finished the job.

My plants were now safe…for the moment…from this particular threat, at least.

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