The Mole

Beneath countless manicured lawns in America lives the enemy. Rarely seen the mole leaves unmistakeable evidence of its existence in the form of small piles of dirt. Sometimes it is just one or two piles, sometimes more than ten. Left unchecked the mole can transform a yard into a miniature replica of a First World War battlefield.

Ed Granlund took great pride in his lawn. When the first attack occurred he vowed to fight. I’m not sure of his initial strategy but I do know it came to a point where he was losing the battle. Enter The Mole Lady! Three mole carcasses and a couple hundred dollars later Ed was back in control of his lawn. It was impossible for Ed to know that the battle had just begun and this struggle grabbed my interest in two ways. I was intrigued by Ed’s obsession with the pesky creatures and the impact on the appearance of his front yard. Additionally I simply found it amusing that someone would hire The Mole Lady at a great cost. If Ed had hired Orkin it might not have hit my radar but The Mole Lady caught my attention. She gets paid by the kill, a pure business transaction.

After a week went by Ed stopped complaining about the money spent to vanquish his enemy and life in Redmond went back to normal. I was not witness to the moment that all changed so what I am about to tell you is mostly from the account told to me by Sue, Ed’s wife and Ed himself.

It was a beautiful Sunday summer morning. The coffee was brewing in the Granlund household and Ed in his bathrobe stepped out onto his front porch to take in the newspaper. Sue reports a never heard before voice emanate from Ed, a combination of rage and terror. Once she determined the house was not on fire and the world was not coming to an end she discovered the horrible truth. As Ed, from the porch, looked down on his front yard, all he could see was seventy five to one hundred piles of dirt left behind by an army of moles. No part of his lawn was spared and they ran up and down the edges of his driveway all the way over to his garden. It was as if every mole from miles around had come to avenge the death of their fallen comrades.

Inappropriate words came from Ed’s mouth, on a Sunday no less. I can just imagine the thoughts going through his head, looking at his yard all torn apart and the calculation of what it would cost to get rid of the legion of moles. Ed had now entered into the fog of war. Retirement would have to be put off, armed guards hired around the clock and the neighborhood association would issue sanctions on the Granlunds. All that Ed had worked for was gone, gone down the miles of tunnels below his house.

Moles are built for living underground and digging. For the most part they are loners and get together only to mate. Moles can tolerate more carbon dioxide allowing them to live in the confines of their tunnels in a low oxygen environment. They spend their time digging around looking for food, earthworms and bugs. Watering your lawn increases the chance of moles in your yard because water attracts the food moles eat. Vibrations in the soil alert them to danger. The front paws of a mole are built for tunneling with an extra thumb thrown in for good measure. The eyes and ears of a mole are tiny. Looking at them front on all you see are the digging feet and a nose.

Moles do not eat plants but will damage the root enough to kill the plant. They are largely considered to be a pest but according to Wikipedia they are a protected species in Germany. They are an odd creature to be sure.

He is still fuming. Ed’s lawn is a wreck. How does something like this happen? In one moment there is peace and tranquility, in the next, chaos. Life is fragile. One moment your house is an asset the next it is a money pit. Well that’s what friends are for and with friends like Ed’s you don’t need moles. It started as a simple thought and I mentioned to Brian Sargent that it would be funny to put a few piles of dirt on Ed’s lawn just to screw around with him and then have him call The Mole Lady back only to have her find piles of dirt with no tunnels underneath. But we couldn’t stop there.

And so it came to be that late that Saturday night Ed’s two mole friends filled up a metal garbage can with dirt and then proceeded to, with coffee cans, put the little dirt piles all over Ed’s yard. We were sure someone would wake up because we were laughing so hard. And yes I wish I had been there that morning to see Ed’s reaction but to this day I still laugh at the thought of the scene one Sunday morning many years ago. In the interests of Ed’s health we had to fess up to the deed. It was a mole to remember!!!

Thank you for reading!

Twenty Seven Summers

The moment summer begins the days shorten with every full rotation of the earth, first by seconds then by minutes. I enjoy all seasons yet summer is the one I look forward to the most. Summer is the season I miss the most. Summer is color, warmth, smells and sounds, it is life at its fullest with the sun on my face. Even summer rain has a rich texture. And if my life is to be as long as my Father’s then I have twenty seven summers left to embrace.

Now it is July 21, 2014. Another summer is a third gone. I’d meant to write this before spring’s end but life’s been busy, it always is. I need to slow down, soak in each day and remember summers gone by. I need to make the effort to make the most of each day before the air chills and the thin autumn clouds stretch across the sky.

One winter not long ago I was outside in New England a couple hours past midnight. The sky was dark, the air clear and cold. The stars were bright and it was totally silent. It was the dead of winter. Now the nights are full of sounds, tree frogs and insects, all very busy and the slightest breeze shakes the leaves out of their sleep. The summer nights are alive when most humans sleep and I enjoy that time the most when people noise does not keep me from hearing the sounds of the deep night changing as morning approaches. About an hour before sunrise the birds begin to stir signaling the change from dark to light. When the sun is up my awareness of sound becomes less as the visual takes over.

During my high school years I had a morning paper route for the Seattle Post Intelligencer that I worked before going to my daytime summer job. Had I not been up so early to deliver the news to my neighbors I might never have discovered how excellent this time of the summer day is. Nowadays I might linger in bed but often I’m up with the sun. In Seattle I can easily be playing golf by six.

Before my family moved to Seattle I spent my summers in New England, sometimes at camp in New Hampshire and always on Cape Cod for several weeks with my Grandmother. When Nanny moved to South Yarmouth I slept on a couch in the screened in porch. That was perfection, protected from the mosquitoes and skunks. In the Harwich house I retreated to the basement to escape the summer heat but the porch was much better.

So perhaps I have twenty seven summers left including this one. Nothing is certain this is true. I’ve been fortunate to live in perfect summer places, the Northeast, the Northwest and for a short time the Midwest. I’ve already had fifty six to enjoy with great memories.

Blueberries and strawberries
Ice Cream
Cross country drives
Summer camp
Jones Beach on Long Island
Nauset Beach on Cape Cod
Bike rides
Redwing Blackbirds
Mourning Doves
The Milky Way
Cold Beer
Cape Cod
Staying up all night
Reading all day
Drive In Theaters
Wednesday the same as Saturday
Stickball in NYC
Fresh cut grass
The ice cream truck
Fifty four holes of golf
Jumping off bridges into cold water
Hotdogs and cookouts
Football workouts
Fishing and catching nothing
Fishing and catching Northern Pike
Canoes and rowboats
Learning to ride a bike
Moonrise over the Atlantic on Cape Cod
Sunsets over the Olympic Mountains
Collecting bottles for the deposit money
Fetching balls out of the sewer
The smell of a charcoal grill and burgers cooking
Hikes up Mt. Washington
The sound of distant thunder
The lighting in a dark sky

Twenty seven summers….. What will my list be when those are done?

Thank you for reading!