There is nothing nicer that the beginning of Spring, after a long cold winter. I actually saw a little green the other day as I dared to go out into my backyard. I haven’t attempted that particular excursion since a few weeks before Christmas.
As I walked beside my home I noticed that many of the bulbs, that I planted years before, were sprouting and the air had that feeling of newness because it was filled with scents of the blossoming spring.
While Spring bellows in the coming of a new season it also introduces us to the newest of our backyard pests. They seem to change every year. I’ve gone through the appearance of ants, yellow-jacket bees, grubs, beetles, and even multiple families of snakes. For a few microseconds, I loved spring with all its newness and promise of things to come.
Then I walked around to view the back of my yard. It looked like a satellite photo of an estuary with all its tiny streams that were coming together into a giant pond. There were multiple runways that connected tiny openings in my lawn. Something that must have been living beneath the three-foot snow pack decided to make its own neighborhood with all of its streets and alleys in my backyard.
It was bad enough to view this carnage in my lawn but I actually watched it grow. At the peripheral of the lines of lawn that had been ground up were trails that I watched pushing out into what little lawn I had left to save. The first thing I did was to walk over to where the trenches in my lawn were growing.
I stamped down hard on it, hoping that I would eliminate the problem in one quick stomp. The only problem with this particular strategy was that the ground was still very wet and my foot disappeared into the lawn. Looking down I observed the mud and water envelope my entire foot, as though it was waiting for me since the winter began.
At first I thought I would have to stay on that particular portion of my lawn until someone found me sometime in mid-July. A panic swept through my mind because I did not want to become a permanent perch for the many birds that visit my yard. With all my might I lifted my foot out of the hole I just made in my lawn and was able to free it from the earth.
I also freed what looked like a tiny black mouse that became airborne as I forced my foot out of ground. I watched as it flew into the air and came down on my left shoulder. For the next few seconds I was eyeball to eyeball with the springtime invader of my backyard.
It was ugly. I assume he or she thought the same of me. This mouse-like thing that inhabits some kind of underground world was black and had a compact body and short legs. It also had a short-furred tail, small beady eyes, and partially hidden ears.
Hell, it was only about a half a foot long but it still scared the be-jesses out of me. After a few seconds it jumped from my shoulder and bolted back into the hole. I still didn’t move because I was now staring out at a little gift that my new-found enemy had left on my shoulder. The war was about to begin!
The first thing I thought about doing was trapping the little sons of voles with mousetraps that were baited with peanut butter. This concept came to an abrupt end when one of my neighbors brought over his pet toy dog that had one of my traps attached to the tip of its nose. After apologizing and paying for his pet’s visit to the veterinarian I decided to use another technique.
I then decided to grab a shovel and dig the varmits out of my lawn. For the next few hours I dug up more mud and dirt then the builders of my house must have dug up laying the foundation of my home. As I was staring out at what was once the beginnings of a decent lawn, I watched some of the mounds of mud, that I had deposited in giant mounds, move.
The voles, that dug their way out of the mountains of mud I had just created, wandered their way away from what was once my lawn, into the field at the side of my yard. They looked like a bunch of refugees fleeing a madman. One little vole decided to walk up to me after it had freed itself from the mud. I watched as it stopped by my foot. It picked up its hind leg and urinated on my foot.
There is nothing nicer that the beginning of spring after a long cold winter. The snows are finally gone but so has my lawn.
Spring introduces the newest of our backyard pests by Jim Fabiano
Jim is a retired teacher and writer living in York, Maine USA.
You can contact Jim at: firstname.lastname@example.org