Pests In the Garden.
Friends or Foe?
Who goes there?
Who gives a hoooot ?
I live among and beside the critters, large and small. The large, I admire from a distance with wonder. The small, irksome, swarming, stinging, sneaky ankle biters and I have a score to settle.
Up close and it is PERSONAL.
I, do, however, know my boundaries.
When the cougar appeared on the green space behind my house, in the middle of the day, sunning itself, tail swishing like a metronome to the rhythm of the ground beneath, I sat and stared. Dared not breathe. Even after it strode majestically out of my view, I felt the urge to bow in the presence of royalty.
Then came the turkeys. Wild ones. Grouped in a noisy gobble, on Thanksgiving Eve no less, under the bushes near the porch. I silenced them with one fatal question. Do you know what day this is?
Tom, the leader, swooned mid-gob.
The possums crossed the line. Came dangerously close. I heard their frat party celebratory drinking songs eeeek out from under the cover of our gas grill. Armed with a baseball bat, I issued their arrest warrant. Lucky for them, I kept my own counsel on the other side of the screen door. They shrieked, bared their teeth, shone their beady yellow eyes into the dark and hissed their way down the stairs. They got away safely.
No animals were harmed, except me.
I dropped the bat on my toe during the getaway scene.
Squirrels, birds, families of deer dancing under the light of the moon, raccoons and badgers scuttling along through the brush. We acknowledge each other's existence, but remain aloof. Actually, I'm still a city kid at heart and remain skeptical of animals outside of cages.
I've heard they bite when riled. I do too.
We have a vole. It is streaking underground leaving a path of brown grass in its wake, the earth cratering beneath its little hooves.
Paws? Feet? No idea. Welcome? Not.
We have mice. Precious little latte-lite, mocha mice.
Field mice in the garden. Cute.
We have a mouse. A darting, gnawing, hide and go eek mouse, in the garage. I don't know what color it is. I can't see that well when I am standing on top of the workbench. I don't know what sound it makes because all I can hear is my own screaming.
Oh no the owls. Screeching. In the wee hours of the morning, an insomnia induced nocturnal nomad, I rocked on the screened in porch hoping for respite. I heard the moans of an injured or perhaps dying critter. I grabbed my flashlight. I scared my neighbor. He pointed up into the tree and with a sigh, said...screech owl. Up high in the birch tree. Illuminated by the light. An oatmeal colored owl. Wide eyed. Still.
Normal people went to bed. I stepped out onto the deck. I could see the faint outline of the vole's meanderings. I glanced up at the moon. A soft fluttering sound, a whoosh, and the soft flap, flap, flap of wings, angel wings in a low smooth glide, a swoop and a turn.
The tip and dip of a winged good night.
A spectacular hoot.
Pests in the garden. Friend or foe? I only know one side of the story. Somehow we all need to get along. Either at a safe distance when we are afraid, or side by side with mutual respect, because one way or the other, we all have a right to be here.
The vole...like me at a buffet.
Came to eat the grub but couldn't resist the salad bar.
The cougar...aging gracefully, but dangerous when wild. Also, like me.
The turkeys...annoying as uninvited guests at the dinner table, but tolerable for short random bursts of gibberish...again, like me.
The mice...outdoors...frolicking...indoors, trapped in a closed space..claustrophobic and gnarly...like me.
And the owls...may screech occasionally...when they feel the need to fly...until they level off into a peaceful glide and say good nite...like me.
Friend or foe?
Maybe we are all.. a little bit of both.