Friday, November 24, 2006

Drats! And other stories of the hole in the garden...

We’ve done so much work on our house and garden since we moved here 8 1/2 years ago. Mainly in the garden. Before we bought it, our house was on a double lot with a lovely large old fashioned garden, clothesline, and patio. But we bought just the house, and the one lot it was on: the second lot was sold to someone else.* Such is the ways of urban areas protecting from sprawl (think Houston): instead of growing a population out and away from around a city and taking over farmland, you grow inside a city, on extra lots, vacant land and increasing the amount of people who can live on that land. In Portland we have plenty of “skinny houses” on narrow lots and here in North Portland, lots of condos being built precisely for this reason (and for the money).

Our back yard had a lovely bed lined with bricks, quite likely original to the house, or soon thereafter. Filled with lavender, peonies, and a little bay tree, the back bed also was home to a perch quite popular with our kitties. We often would find either Toonces or Picasso perched along the brick edge, staring deep down into the flowerbed. I soon discovered why while pruning or pulling weeds. There was a hole in the ground there. Not a huge hole, but a hole. And it appeared to be or go deep.

Time passed, but you never really forget about a hole like that. We had another hole in the front of the house which we discovered was home to a bevy of wasps. So mad once they flew out of the hole and stung AdRi in the head. We stayed a long ways away from that hole after that. But the hole in the back was filled in with dirt. If it appeared again I’d fill it back in, and once I think I even let the summer garden hose go for awhile just pouring into it. “Take that whatever your are!” The back bed was torn out, the bricks hauled away, and the area transformed into the rest of patio with pavers and herbs planted in between. The hole was officially gone.

Until today. Nestled near the back door in a fallen raincoat was a furry creature making odd sounds. Wink was intrigued and was quickly taken away for a walk. I was left to deal with the creature. (Did I get a camera? Of course not.) It was squeaking and burrowing and trying as hard as it could to be invisible. But my broom handle moved the coat and the big brown rat looked straight up at me with its freckled face and headed straight for the hole. The hole that hasn’t been for years was once again open and the rat squeezed it’s huge furry body through it and down, its long worm-like tail slipping behind it.

There’s no real ending to this story except here’s a picture I tried to take when it had the gall to come back while we were trying to get some gutter work done during a brief respite from the rain. I followed it around as it tittered through the garden, this time with my camera. I know you can’t see its freckles, but I swear it has them.
And then there’s the hole. AdRi now calls it the place where Lelo’s friend lives. I’m going to fill it with gravel. And hot sauce. And sharp pokey things. But until then, the cats are **so not** going out back. They might come face to face with freckle face and by the size of him, I’d guess it wouldn’t be pretty.
*That someone else built himself a house over the course of a year. Mainly on the weekends. Beginning at 6am in the morning.


Anonymous said...

WHAT IS IT???????

I'm terrified of anything with a tail like that.

rodger said...

I say let the cats have at it. That's why they were lounging there in the first place. They'll be okay. Of course they may leave a present on your doorstep so maybe the gravel approach is best.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hey I thought you two were tough! Where's the shovel being waved down on top of the marauder? OK. WE too occasionally see a rat population bloom because of the bird feeing. And when they get nervy enough to do what THIS guy did, all limits are off. Even when raccoons begin tearing up our big tray feeder hanging in the tree, they are trapped in the Havihart trap and relocated (no, not to Gitmo).
Good luck........
Have you been back to Christies?

LeLo said...

RSG, it was a freckle faced rat. I'll send it your way. Ginger needs a new friend.

Rodger and Mark: I'm glad we've held the image of tough girls high. It's all a facade. Furry stinky animals like this? Ugh. I know we could send the cats on this thing, but we'd end up exactly with what you said: a HEADLESS present on the doorstep. Let's just wish the thing away, shall we? And Mark, we've been back to Christies; it's so so, but still damn glad to have it in the neighborhood.

purpletwinkie said...

Rat hater.

Monogram Queen said...

Yeeks i'm scared of critters like that!

Anonymous said...

Ahhh... city rats. One of the many joys of urban living. We, too, occasionally get a burst of rats, but thankfully not since the summer before last. It's no going outside unattended for the doggies until they're under control. I just tell myself that, because honestly, I get the feeling the rats just get more clever and find better places to hide from us. ***shudder***