Being that my father was a farmer, albeit a rank failure as one, maybe I inherited some man of the soil genes because starting in junior high and through high school and later when I was living in the green room, I was appointed keeper of the family garden. We had a whole .5 acre down back, so the garden wasn’t exactly a modest affair.
I would start preparing the soil in March when it would be all clumped and hard to work from the rains. That dirt had a lot of clay in it, but I would turn it over and then make a trip to the chicken shit place and dump the chicken shit all over what I had turned. In early April the soil dried and became workable.
I planted zucchini and corn seeds, and being a worried wart, I was all the time coming to see if they were coming up or not. Cause if they didn’t come up when they were supposed to the timing might be off for the summer heat. So one evening I am sitting there admiring my handy work, and right before my eyes the finely worked earth around a young and healthy look zucchini bud starts to move and then the whole zucchini disappeared right before my eyes.
I had tried about everything to tame them except poison, not because I was ecologically conscious but because I didn’t want to take the risk of poisoning my self some how. I had tried the various folk methods. I stuck hoses in their holes and ran water for hours but to no avail. Once the area behind the garden sank down and once the water went into a neighbor’s yard. Then I did the thing with car flares, and went around sticking them in the holes till it looked like the backyard was about to become a volcano.
The only thing that really “worked” or seemed to produce concrete results was a gopher trap. So seeing my zucchini disappear I went out and bought a new one. It looked like a rat trap, though much bigger, and had teeth designed to clamp down and break the gopher’s neck. I was careful with those damn things. You’d put some cheese or something on it as bait and then jam the trap as far as you could in a hole, and then come out the next morning, pull the thing out by its chain and see if you’d had any luck.
I swear that particular summer I was like the Great White Hunter of Gophers. Every morning I hooked something. I would pry open the jaws and throw the corpse over into our neighbor’s back yard which was all covered with weeds. I mean they wouldn’t notice it. Then one day I pulled out the Moby Dick of gophers. This sucker was huge and it had reddish head hair and a reddish tuff beard just like me and the fucker wasn’t dead.
So I went and got a two pound hammer out of the back of the truck, and there I am about to perform the coup de grace when my little brother comes up and goes on, Is it still alive? Are you going to kill it with that hammer? Are you going to hit on the head? You know it looks like you? And I just sort of blew and said, would you get the fuck out of here, goddamn it to hell. And—wham–as he walked off, looking hurt, I splattered the things head.
I apologized to my brother and said I don’t know why but I just got angry for some reason maybe because I felt hoisted on my own petard.