Sunday, September 20, 2009

Nature's Battlefield

66.6° degrees first thing in the morning. I pray that isn’t a kind of cosmic horoscope.

When it is hot like it is this week- even before I watched the Sean Hannity expose´ on California water, I am obsessed with water for my garden. Sometimes I think about replacing the lawn with gravel to conserve- then I observe- hummingbird hovers low to the lawn in search of sustenance-grass cools the earth more than gravel. I break with my fellow garden writers in deciding it is more environmentally correct to keep the lawn. If ancient Rome can bring in water to an arid region, surely we can.

When the hillsides are dry, animals come to call. Like with relatives or ex-lovers, the relationship with some is more complicated than with others.

For a couple weeks, a predator lurked about the unlit landscape. You learn to live with this when your garden backs up to Eden- but when said creature leaves carcasses up by the house and then poops like a vagrant on the lawn in daylight hours- it is dangerously innocent to succumb to the singular fact that “they” were here first.

We are here now. We belong here every bit as much as they do. If the Kingdom of Wild Animals doesn’t honor the Treaty of Mutual Peaceful Coexistence clause calling for my garden to be a no-kill zone- so be it. *

The good people at the Humane Society are skeptical of my concern that one of the occasional transient big cats is settling in. This time we can’t blame Mr. Coyote: there were no death-during-dinner operettas. Their assumption is raccoons can get rambunctious.

The nice officer sets up dinner of cat food and water in the cage with a trap door: just like the ones used for skunks. Their battle plan was the vagrant critter would crawl in for a late night snack- the door would shut- we would call the Humane Society in the morning and they would relocate it to someplace further than walking distance from here.

This is what happened over the past week.

At night, the cage rattling violently would wake me. In the morning, there was less cat food in the bowl. The dark of night raider would either spring the trap or escape. A week later I am getting concerned that we are attracting every rodent with what is "fast food" to them.

Then- at noon I saw it- its big ears twitching at me. It waited for me to get my camera and aim. It posed. Right profile. Left profile. Straight ahead. I must have been too mortified to click the button all the way. There were no images on my camera. But Beatrix Potter was another writer who had rats- so I’ve borrowed this image of a figurine of hers.

The cage is decommissioned. It is going back to the Humane Society. Even if I get this one rat- It am certain- I am not alone in the garden.

*The Lesson: The circumstance of my garden has taught me to understand the Israeli position in the Middle East.

Thank you to photographer Gene Sasse for permission to use image of Bobcat.

The figurine was hunted down on eBay.


  1. I loved it! As always, Missy, you done gud! The picture of the 'raggity coons' is hilarious!
    xo Orygun Sue

  2. Gerry took that photo- should have given him credit. Which reminds me, I need to take that skunk cage back to the Humane Society before the Skunk Union realizes they missed this neighborhood this year.


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