Jon De Vos " Life, under the appliances |

Jon De Vos " Life, under the appliances

Jon De Vos / Friday Report
Grand County, Colorado

Ah, Spring.

Tender, green shoots reach for the sun, the aspen and willows bud while the hills come alive with the whine of chainsaws as we whip our backyards into shape. It’s called the backyard because it’s there in that yard that we strain our backs pushing wheelbarrows with muscles atrophied from a sedentary winter.

My wife is a Midwesterner and despite 30-plus years living high atop the Rocky Mountains, maintains a culture of hard work and a baffling relationship with the soil and the organic smell of the loam. I, on the other hand, was born in Los Angeles and thrive on the bituminate smell of asphalt. I have also dwelt in Grand County beyond three decades, while still entertaining a culture of Robert Crumb comix and a Keep On Truckin’ mind set. You’d think there would be problems with the different attitudes, some clash with these mismatched values, and you’d be so right.

It is a jungle out there in the deep backyard, full of lions and foxes and chipmunks, oh my! Chipmunks are the pestilence in my wife’s perennial happiness. She plants a petunia, chipmunks sneak behind her and munch it to the ground. She plants a nasturtium and Chip or Dale pop it down their tiny gullet. If it’s war they want, my wife’s thunderous response is “Bring it on!” She’s a fearless Amazon of the Tuber Tribe, wearing her distaste for the rodents like a heart on her sleeve, savagely defending her rite of horticulture.

But then she’s a softie at heart and can’t bring herself to finish off the striped rats. Over the years she’s worn out several Havahart traps, catching and quietly releasing them at night in the middle of rich people’s neighborhoods, vaguely comforted by the thought of providing a better life for the cursed petunia pluckers.

Last week, imagine my surprise when the peace of my serene Sunday was ripped asunder by an astounding shriek from the kitchen. It was like my wife’s voice, only louder, much, much louder. It was a screech that could only be justified by some grisly discovery, say, a nest of hooded vipers roiling out of the sugar bowl. I paused Grand Theft Auto and flew downstairs like a dutiful spouse only to find my wife vapor-locked and sitting high on the counter, legs in the air and pointing to the floor at a curiously empty Havahart trap with the lid slightly ajar.

I took the scene in at a glance, “Lost your chipmunk?” I asked, unsuccessfully stifling a laugh. Her response was another glass-splintering screak as she flew out the door without touching the ground. Ah, alone at last. What to do? I did what guys do and dove back into my digital world. I had just decided to ram the idiot in the Pontiac when the phone rang.

It was my wife, not considerably calmer, calling from the neighbor’s house, “HAVE YOU FOUND IT?” I stared morosely at the screen, watching the unharmed idiot drive off into the pixilated distance.

“Found what?” I asked.


“Well, where’d you leave it?”


“Weren’t you going to let it go anyway?”

In summary let me say that you have no idea how many things you own until you pick each one of them up and look underneath. And no, I haven’t found it. Yet.