Jon de Vos: Rodents ate my vacation
June 28, 2011
My wife and I have settled into a comfortable division of labor. I change all the lightbulbs throughout our entire home, leaving only the rest of the household for her to deal with. That may sound unfair and, obviously, it is, but I’ve been patiently teaching her how to change those bulbs.
Of course, I’m kidding. I do my share of stuff around the house, freeing up my wife’s time for the things she really enjoys: everything outside the house.
A few days ago, I got a frantic call telling me that I ” . . better get home quick, things aren’t going well.” When I got there she handed me her favorite household appliance, the weed whacker. It had run out of string.
She might as well have handed me a Rubik’s Cube and told me humanity’s continued existence depended upon me figuring it out blindfolded. I peered in the empty holes, I shook it like a tambourine, I squeezed it like a juicy orange, I twisted it like the lid on a pickle jar, I invoked helpful spirits. Nothing. It maintained it’s crunchy outside and empty inside.
Following a tip that’s never worked for me, I finally whacked it with a blunt object and it obligingly opened up into thirty or forty pieces. Then I drove down to Ace Hardware and bought another one. America’s so cool! Off-the-shelf weed whackers come filled with string.
Some years back, my wife was happily tending her flower garden when a chipmunk did an obscene little dance in front of her, shaking his tiny hips like a pole dancer. Then, without warning, he gobbled down a petunia. And suddenly another. My wife stared slack-jawed at his performance, stunned by the rodent’s audacity. For a minute.
With a slight shake of the head, she popped off like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland. She went storming around the backyard shouting “Off with their heads!” It sounded tough, but the reality is that neither of us could behead a rodent, or even shoot or poison them, and still sleep at night.
So we bought a live trap and she began a catch-and-release program. At first she was releasing them too close to home and after a couple of hours, they made their way back to the yard. I mentioned this possibility but my wife pooh-poohed the idea. She decided to spray paint their little tails to test the hypothesis. After a couple of weeks our yard was crowded with yellow-tailed chipmunks, as rare as the black-footed ferret.
So she began taking them further still, all the way to the rich people’s neighborhood about 3.5 miles from our house. “Why there?” I asked.
“Rich people have better flowers and they hire gardeners to replace them. I’m just doing my part for American job retention,” she replied.
Over the years, she’s kept strict record of each success with hash marks clumped in fives on top of the trap. I looked down and counted. There were a lot of clumps. I totaled an eye-widening 124 marks. “At seven miles round trip,” I said, “you’ve transported the little beggars 868 miles. That’s from here to San Francisco.”
Not only have they eaten all the petunias, the nasty little rodents also stole my vacation!
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