“The charge before us is that the Flanders pigeon… did deliberately, callously, and with beastliness of forethought [tormented] a lovely, innocent pigeon!”
(from the Lord Blackadder, BBC Comedy Series)
My conversation is not about a “pigeon.” There is a tormentor, however, though not the “murderer” (aggressor) that was originally called out by the show’s flighty conqueror.
Full disclosure: Torment was the state of my summer, spent anxiously searching for adequate answers to events that screamed of inexplicable occurrences. Gravity. Inertia. Unsatisfying work. Groundhogs. Illness. Weeds. Groundhogs. Mosquitoes. Hornets. A nasty little groundhog!
Early into the growing season, I noticed that my lettuce crop was slowly disappearing. At first I thought it might be local sabotage. You know, it could be “the neighbor,” jealous of my boxes of bursting green lettuces, Swiss chard, kale, and stealthily hacking away at them, bit by leaf, in the stark of night. It didn’t help that another gardening neighbor, slightly more paranoid than myself, had shared her suspicions of “competitive” gardener types, on our very block.
“There are people,” she said, “who conspicuously show-up at the local garden nursery at the same time as you. Before you know it, they’re shadowing your lettuces and flowers with sunflowers on steroids. Kills the sunlight.”
Hey, I’m from Brooklyn, baby. While I hadn’t a clue what her cautionary explanation meant, I knew the scent of green avarice and square-box contriteness in the suburbs of North Jersey!
Though grieving for my ravaged lettuces, I was encouraged by stalks of flourishing string beans, budding eggplants and tomatoes. Then one night, I was up late writing in my office. It was about 2:30a.m. I heard what clearly sounded like a big, heavy-footed “being” romping in my garden. I quickly grabbed the largest flashlight that I could find (my I-Phone) and beamed it from behind my 2nd floor window screen. I’m no fool! Whatever was out there was whopping, menacing and, I imagined, would not be easily scared off. “It” proceeded to screech indignantly at me, like I’d stepped on some delicate body-part or a toe.
“Hey you,” I screamed back, “Leave my lettuce be!”
I imagined a hirsute, gilded-eyed monster, yet couldn’t see anything in the blinding beam of light that hid “it” from me and more importantly, me from “it.”
Next morning, I discovered teeth marks with inch-long cuttings in my eggplants. There were also now footprints that suggested traces of baby Bigfoot. Several empty pots were flung on their sides, and a two-inch wide hole had been burrowed directly at the base of my square box. A scary creature had indeed mined its way through my field of greens with an untamable fury. My thriving string bean stalks were pummeled and hanging pitifully on their sides. Branches that delivered ripe for the pickin’ cherry tomatoes had been plucked clean. This ground hog was a discerning critter, if not a vengeful one, who’d left behind only the unripe vegetation to show me who really ruled my lil’ box of greens.
When I mentioned my saga to my paranoid neighbor, she confirmed sighting four groundhogs in her own sizeable garden over the last several days.
“Groundhogs?! Really?” I said. “I had no idea they could be so terrifying.”
“Look at your mess of a garden,” she pointed frantically. “Don’t think they’re done with you!”
Groundhogs travel in smart, organized packs and send “lookouts” to warn the others of danger. Say what?! They can weigh up to ten pounds, have incisor fangs, are scrapper fighters among their species, and are not to be played with. Seriously, I lost a flip flop running from one, again, late at night in August. I went to unpack the car about a week ago, and something shrieked at me from the dark reaches of my backyard. I ran, swiping at the air with my Whole Foods bag, convinced that I was being aggressively chased by a rabid, ground hog. When I reached my backdoor, a shoe was missing. It was not a graceful moment. Sadly, every late night activity that requires entering the garage or backyard has to factor in whether I will disturb or be disturbed by our spiteful, yard invader.
Friends who moved into a new house a few towns over, have also been battling these aggressive, feral sciurids. Their personalities, it turns out, are nothing at all like the mild-mannered, slightly near-sighted, “woodchucks,” that scamper ‘round in circles with friendly predictions of the winter season. My friends, who are also relocated Brooklynites said of their predicament when they caught sight of three groundhogs who’d set-up camp in their backyard, “We need help from a professional and quick.” The husband admitted, “I’m scared to get out of the car at night!”
We should all be scared.
What can I say? It was a garden-challenging summer.
With the transition to autumnal delights, I have moved my small, vine plants and pots to the front lawn, and soon, will cover my box and lay low for the winter. If that doesn’t work, I also have a call-in to Alvin and the Chipmunks—a vigilante squad—ready to go gangsta style on my unfortunate, beastly entanglements.
Share your remedies and thoughts. Until then,
Stay green. Stay square. Pb
You can also find me at: Face Book & Village Q – Where Queer Meets Family