Why the Neighbours Don't Visit
I looked up from my computer, narrowed my eyes and waited. Silence. I shook my head and returned to my typing.
This time I rose from my seat and walked towards the source of the sound.
My husband was standing at the doorway that led to our garden. The sound had apparently been emanating from him. Either he was trying to scare something off, or he had developed a slow leak. Had this been a normal household, I would have opted for the former. But ours was not a normal household so I couldn’t rule anything out. I thought it best to make enquiries first.
‘Whatcha doing,’ I asked brightly.
‘Those bloody cats from next door,’ he said peevishly, ‘are digging in our garden. I only just had that new turf laid down two weeks ago, and they’re ruining it. I didn’t spend all that money so they could use it as a toilet.’
Our next-door neighbours had two adventurous cats who often visited us. My daughters and I may have encouraged their penchant for stopping over by playing with and fussing over them. But nothing’s definite. After all, who can truly say what goes on in the mind of the inscrutable feline.
I knew that their people kept a covered litter box in their garden, so I found it hard to believe they would be using our backyard for their business.
‘They’ve never done that before,’ I remarked. ‘Are you sure?’
‘I saw them myself digging by the fence there.’ He pointed towards the far corner of the yard where the fences formed a corner.
‘Strange.’ I replied. My husband looked at me, unsure if I was referring to his or the cats’ behaviour. I smiled and returned to my work.
The following Sunday morning, I was pulled gently from my sleep by soft sunlight slowly illuminating our bedroom. I stretched luxuriously, rose and meandered towards the slightly-opened bedroom window where a light breeze blew in the heady, early dawn scent of farms and spring flowers. While delighting in the tranquillity, I noticed out of the corner of my eye movement in the garden. The kitties were in our yard again. They were clawing at the turf just like my husband had said. But something was amiss. The cats pawed at the ground, stopped, and gazed intently at the fresh earth, bodies coiled tightly, ready to pounce. The cats weren't relieving themselves. They were on the hunt. I woke my husband and explained what the cats were actually up to.
‘They’re after something in our yard. Maybe a mouse or a rat. Oh God, please don’t let it be a rat. I hate rats,’ I said, now uneasy at the thought of rats in our garden.
My husband was at the window shooing the cats away. ‘Right then,’ he said,’ let’s see what so interesting.’ With that, he threw a bathrobe over his T-shirt and shorts and went downstairs. I followed in hot pursuit insisting, no, demanding that he leave the robe behind.
I suppose I should explain that my husband does not own a bathrobe. The robe he had so impetuously grabbed and threw on like a superhero’s cape belonged to me. He stands 5’10” while I barely reach 5’5” so you can imagine it wasn’t a good fit for him. In addition, the fuchsia and purple colour combination did absolutely nothing to bring out his baby-blue eyes.
My husband wasn’t giving up the bathrobe, so I returned to our room to change. I then went downstairs and found him in the garden investigating the scene of the crime. I left him to it, turned on the computer and began sorting through the emails. Ten minutes later, he delivered his verdict. We had been invaded by a mole.
‘So...not a rat then,’ I said relieved.
Had this been a normal household, pest control would have been called to remove the little squatter. But ours is not a normal household. My husband wanted the vermin gone NOW.
He poked around in my collection of garden tools and pulled out a small trowel. Suitably armed and still clad in my dressing gown, he sat cross-legged on the grass, trowel in hand, and waited for the mole to appear.
Ever the supportive wife I said, ‘I’ll put the kettle on, shall I? Would you care for a cuppa?’ He nodded his assent and off I went.
With the emails taken care of, I made a second cup of coffee and sat at my desk observing my husband through the window as he attempted to dislodge the mole.
Colour Me Beautiful
Twenty minutes later, the Great White Hunter left his post. He walked past me muttering, ‘I need to get the big guns,’ and walked out our front door.
‘Big guns,’ I wondered to myself. ‘What is that man on about?’
As my husband crossed the driveway towards the garage, a new neighbour spotted him and began waving a greeting. He stopped mid-way and just stared. I think the sight of a nearly six-foot tall man dressed in a too small woman’s dressing gown made him reconsider wanting to associate with us. (sigh) I told my husband those colours didn’t suit him. He’s more a Fall than a Winter palette.
Returning from the garage, shovel in hand, the Mighty Huntsman resumed his station and began digging in earnest with the shovel trying to flush out the invader. I continued my vigil indoors, marvelling at the fact that I was married to this man.
Without warning, he raised the shovel and brought it down upon the freshly-turned earth. He then rushed into the house and up the stairs and confiscated a shoebox from my closet. (My shoes!) Entering the garden once again, he scooped something into the box and approached me in triumph.
‘I got him,’ he exalted. He lifted the lid of the box and showed me his prize. I peeked in and nearly cried. Inside, lying, very still, was what looked like a little black sausage with glossy black fur.
‘Is that it?’ I asked. ‘Oh my God, what did you do to it?’ I asked my voice rising in alarm.
‘I hit it over the head with the shovel.’
‘You did what!? He’s just a little animal. Is he dead? Did you kill it? How could you?!’ By now I was near tears as I can’t bear to see any animal hurt.
‘No, he’s not dead. He’s just got a headache.’
I examined the creature closely and, to my relief, I could see his tiny sides rising up and down.
‘What are you going to do with him?’
I’m going to take him to the farmers’ fields and turn him loose there.’
He put the lid back on the box, placed it on the kitchen counter and returned to our room to change. In the meantime, I carefully cut some air holes into the lid of the box, all the while talking to the dazed creature in comforting tones.
After releasing the little critter, my husband remarked, ‘I’ll give the little guy his due, he can dig. I barely got him out of the box, and he disappeared in seconds into the ground.’
‘If I had just woken up,’ I said, ‘from having my head bashed in and saw the person responsible for said bashing hovering over me, I also would want to put as much distance between him and me as quickly as possible.’
My husband spent the remainder of the morning repairing his damaged turf. As he toiled away, I wondered if he realised that he had caused more destruction to the yard than the mole had.
‘You do realise,’ I said to him, ‘this is why the neighbours don’t visit.’
© 2013 Ms. Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon