Monday, April 23, 2012

Groundhog Apartment—No longer available for lease

                We no longer want the “apartment”—the crawl space beneath our sunroom—to be available to groundhogs.
                “I don’t care if they live under the old stump in the back,” said my husband, “but I don’t want them under the house. They’ll ruin the foundation.”
                So, last month, after we had trapped and released a young groundhog, my husband made a platform of long planks with which he covered the foot-wide plot of earth on the side of the house.  I thought the hosta would push it up as it grew, but I was wrong. It’s just growing between the slats and no groundhog could dig through that.
                The wall under the sunroom on the south side of the house is interrupted by a short staircase and ends at the chimney. So there is only about a yard before the stair and half a yard on the other side where a groundhog could dig.  But dig they did. So we blocked those holes with bricks.
                But we didn’t count on the determination of these creatures.
                Two days ago we discovered fresh dirt on the walkway and a new, smallish hole tunneling right under the stairs. I set the trap and, yesterday, found a very wet groundhog sitting dejectedly in it. We read him his rights and convinced him to relocate.
                But before we could block up the hole—it’s still raining—on saw a groundhog—I’m certain it’s a different one—race across the back of the house and down the hole.
                Ah ha! I know where you are, I thought. So I set the trap again.
                And now there is another young groundhog sitting dejectedly in it.
                We will cement this hole. I do believe in affordable housing but the apartment under our sunroom is not available for squatters.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Just Dandy-lions

I like dandelions, really I do.  Seeing their sunny wildness against a background of green lawn makes me smile. But I also want to be a good neighbor.  Good neighbors don’t raise a crop of flowers that release hundreds of floating seeds to infiltrate nearby manicured lawns.

When I was a child, we called their delicate white seed carriers, which floated on the breeze, “fairies.” We would catch them, make a wish and blow them off our hands. I can’t remember if any of my wishes came true. But each year we chased after the “fairies” so we could wish.

A few years after we moved to Montclair, we had a bumper crop of those cheerful yellow flowers scattered over our front and back lawns. Though I enjoyed the sight, I knew that the following year there would be exponentially more, both in our yard and our neighbors. So I paid my then-young children to dig them out at five cents a plant. When they had filled a small bucket, they complained that it was hard work. So I doubled their wages. They actually removed almost every dandelion.

Each year since then I’ve only had to remove a few dozen dandelions from our lawn.

Last Friday I spent over an hour digging out every lion-headed flower I could find on our property. Today, ten more of the sinister little plants reared their golden heads. I dug out nine. The children on our block should have “fairies” to chase. I want to be a good neighbor.