It's hard to believe a creature as small as a mole can wreck havoc on a half acre lawn, but since the snow melted, I've discovered the disaster in my yard. To the south and east, among the red pines, spruce, and tamaracks hundreds of tunnels are appearing. I have no idea how I'm going to repair the damage.
I can't till up the entire yard, lay reams of wire mesh and start from scratch, and I sure don't want to drive the lawn mower over all the exposed earth. There's been a small invasion of voles, too, as little runways are scattered among the mole tunnels. Yikes, what a jumbled mess. I'm almost sorry the snow is gone. Who am I kidding? This was the worst winter ever!
My daughter is grown and after living in Ann Arbor for five years moved to Colorado last week. My husband left a long time ago. Living alone has many advantages, but battling outdoor pests isn't one of them. At this time of year, skunks, raccoons, and porcupines have a field day around my residence.
Although my 20 acres are timbered with hundreds of red, white, and jack pines, legions of tamaracks, and a few maple trees, porcupines enjoy dining on my back steps. Skunks delight in digging up the backyard while searching for their breakfast, and raccoons invade any bird feeders I forget to bring in at nightfall. For the lack of a spouse, my nerves take a beating when spring arrives.
I refer to my yard as the weed patch because it's not a real lawn. When the trailer I live in was hauled here many years ago, a patch of pasture was leveled off, a slab of cement poured, and the Marlette was pulled in place. I don't think Dad plowed the field and sprinkled grass seed as there was no need for it. A small electric fence enclosed what Mom called the yard, and the rest of the pasture remained the domain of the few Herefords my parents kept as pets.
Dad passed away 30 years ago and we lost Mom in November of 2009. I now live in the mobile home they purchased in 1968. It was Mom's pride and joy because the old house had no modern conveniences. For the first time in her 51 years, she didn't have to haul pails of water from the wellhouse, carry in armloads of wood to feed the kitchen stove, or endure the humiliation of an outhouse. With this trailer, she had found Utopia. Dad wasn't fond of trailer life so for various reasons, he christened his new home the Tin Can.
I'm not sure when the battle of the moles began or why they took up residence around this place, but I know Mom had her troubles with them, too. Every spring she raked mounds of dirt, spreading it around, doing her best to disperse it. I try to do likewise, but I think this year the moles will win. My surrender is inevitable as I can't possibly shove all that dirt back into the ground.
Every year an army of skunks dig for grubs as witnessed by the two inch holes scattered around the yard, so I'm pretty sure that source of mole food has disappeared. I've yet to see any worms when I plant annual flowers so nix on that, too. As for insects, I suppose the birds take care of them. In other words, scavenging for food around my backyard is going to result in an empty stomach for my four footed enemies. Why then has the mole invasion been so severe this spring?
Well, I don't know. Moles and other outdoor vermin are annoying, but I guess we have to live with them. If a person annoys us we can pretend we're not home when they pull in the driveway, or we can ignore their phone calls with the aid of caller I.D. No matter how persistent their unwanted advances are, we can outsmart them. We can ignore them at the grocery store and duck down an opposite aisle at Walmart when we see them coming.
Outwitting a human is much easier than outwitting rodents. They are the wiliest of all creatures, the hardest to trap, and the most destructive. Through a mouthful of gossip, a friend might unsuccessfully try to destroy your reputation. But give a mole a paw full of dirt and it will succeed it destroying your landscape.
In a way I should be glad my yard is only a patch of weeds. Although I diligently mow it every summer, I know it's a losing battle. Eventually the weeds will succumb to the moles, and as I grow older, I'll tire of the war. I'll probably move into some nice senior complex and let the groundskeeper worry about the invasion of outdoor pests.
I'll have better ways to spend my time like playing bingo or shuffleboard or hiding from annoying people. Some things you just can't escape no matter how hard you try.
Editor's note: Sharon Kennedy of Brimley has earned a graduate degree in creative writing from Northern Michigan University. At 67, she calls herself a humorist and hopes readers connect with her observations on the monotony of daily life and the witty mental gymnastics humans practice to impress each other.