The plant disappeared into the ground as quickly as money is sucked into the pneumatic tube canisters at the bank. I knelt down quickly where the melon plant used to be — there was nothing but a few roots stuck on the side of a freshly dug gopher hole.
My insides were screaming in my best Elmer Fudd impression. “Hewwo! Acme Pest Contwol? Weww, I have a pest I want contwolled!”
If jumping up and down and waving around a gun would have helped Elmer, I may have been inclined to try it too. I stood in the middle of a gopher colony, surrounded by rodent-chewed drip tape fountains. Yesterday, it had been a beautiful field of freshly laid mulch with pretty little melon plants growing down the rows. Today, gopher mounds dotted the field like a traumatic case of teenage acne. And if the pimpled field wasn’t enough, the rotten rodents had chewed the drip tape into fishnet stockings — holes spraying water every which direction. Some plants were drowning in water, some were bone dry and others raptured — nothing left but a few roots to mark their life in this world. “Eat my pwants and chew up my dwip tape will you, you wasically wodent?”
I wish there was something I could put in the water that wouldn’t hurt the plants, but would repel those horrid buck-toothed rodents. My aunt’s vegan, black-bean brownies would do the trick — the first person to take the bite has their mouth glommed shut, and it repels everyone else — but I’m afraid they might kill the melon plants too.
I felt like the star of a cartoon. Chasing around a tiny little nemesis who is always getting the upper hand. The only thing missing was to be sprayed in the face with water from the chewed-up drip tape. About that time, I knelt down to start working on another patch. As I put my hand on the plastic, it sunk into a flooded gopher hole. Water didn’t spray my face, but my knee, my boot and my arm up to my elbow sunk in the mud. “Kill da wodent!” I breathed.
That evening, covered in mud and scratches, my husband and I headed for home. Neither of us spoke. It had been a long and discouraging day. Our cat purred for attention, and rubbed across our legs, but we weren’t in the mood. We tossed him out before changing out of our mud-encrusted clothes and heading for the kitchen — each of us wishing we had a wife that had supper on the table when we came home. Too tired to cook, we just sat at the table staring dejectedly at each other.
Meow. Meeeeoooww. MEOW! The cat was demanding to come back in. Our cat, perhaps trying to cheer us up (but more likely to add insult to injury), was sitting at the door with a mouse in his mouth. Before I could shut the door on them, he ran into the kitchen and dropped it. The bewildered mouse took off running under my kitchen counters and disappeared.
“We are not a catch and release family!” I shouted to the cat. “Get him back, get him back!” The cat looked up and lazed off into the living room.
The next morning, with rodent traps set inside the house and in the field, I was not in the best of moods. That’s when my son came running in the house. “Look at all my four-leaf clovers!” He opened up his hands to display dozens of the little green lucky leaves.
“Wow, that is a lot!” I exclaimed.
“Yeah, I wasn’t finding any, so I just glued an extra leaf onto the other ones.”
Simple and profound. Those rodents may have gotten me yesterday, but staring at my son’s four-leaf clovers, I felt my luck was just one bottle of Elmer’s glue away from changing.
“Be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m about to go hunting wodents!”
Brianna Walker occasionally writes about the Farmer’s Fate for the Blue Mountain Eagle.