It’s 9:30 on Sunday morning — already too late to beat the grocery store mobs. Instead, I step out into the garden to see what’s ready to harvest. There is already enough lettuce in the garden for my salads.
We are merely feet away from each other. I am sure it is the same old guy who has been helping himself to what I plant, for years. I take a step towards him and he bares his big old teeth. I retreat out of the garden, closing the gate behind me. But fatso can’t get out. Tetley is inside and I think about running to the house to release him — but they are the same size and I would worry about woodchuck geezer hurting my little Cairn. And I imagine their battle would destroy the garden anyway.
Chuck tries a few lame leaps up the wall but can’t make it. Next he burrows into the opposite corner to try and exit through the fence into the peonies. I step back into the garden, my heart pounding, to try and get a better photo and he steps in my direction as if to charge. I retreat. I think about running into the house to get Rob but know he will escape while I am gone — besides, I am not sure of what I want to do with this guy. I have wanted him gone for years — now is my chance. He is too smart for have-a-heart trap. The sledgehammer we used to pound in tomato stakes is behind me. I could never do it — but maybe Rob could. But no – I don’t want the carnage. The picture of violence would always be here in this little corner. Instead, I watch him – we eye each other – my look saying, ‘I know it’s you, buddy, so don’t come around here anymore’. (Ha. see below)
He makes another leap for the wall and this time, manages to drag himself through the tangle of raspberries canes. I open the gate and step inside to assess the damage — cilantro plant knocked over and a few beheaded sunflowers. How many years I have cursed this guy for decimating flowers, just-planted or just-ripe vegetables? And yet face-to-furry-face and I didn’t feel like bashing him. It’s just plants, after all — if he was eating my kid, (or my dog) I’d kill him. I know I could and would. In my mind, this is the same creature that has scampered away just in time for years. And today, older, slower, fatter, and trapped, how could I not feel sorry for him?
P.S. A few hours later, I return to do some weeding and he races past me again — and now the lettuce so nicely captured in the photos above, is gone, as is the marigold and more sunflowers have been stripped to stalks and I feel a fool — but mostly for not shutting the garden gate.