Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mountains and Molehills

I mow my lawn as infrequently as possible. I’ll “let it go” for upwards of three months, until the point that I see tigers and rainforest tribesmen taking up residence within my grass. Then, with much reluctance, I’ll fire up the ol’ tractor and speed through the chore as quickly as I can.

I’m not sure where this lack of enthusiasm for mowing the lawn originated. My best guess is that it all started back when I was a teenager. If I was in need of spending money, and my parents weren’t in the mood to give handouts (which was always), I was relegated to “earning” cash by doing “work,” which “sucked.”

As a naïve teen, I normally elected to get money by mowing the lawn. The idea seemed simple enough: All I had to do was ride a mower around the yard for an hour while daydreaming about what I was going to do with my whopping five-dollar payout. Easy, right?


There were several factors that hindered the completion of my lawn-mowing chore. First of all, our family’s mower had only four speeds. Fourth gear—the top velocity possible—wasn’t any faster than the swift pace achieved by an elderly woman with orthopedic shoes and a walker. One—the lowest speed—was roughly equivalent to glacial movement. Needless to say, by the time I finished mowing the lawn, the grass had fully grown back to the height it was when I started.

Even if I did attempt to push the mower into fourth gear and achieve the breakneck speed of 1/8 MPH, my parents would always freak out. They’d burst out of the house screaming, “That’s way too fast! Don’t go over ‘glacier gear’!” and I’d have to dial it down. It was like that movie Speed, only the exact opposite. And no fun. (Okay, never mind. It was the same.)

Fast-forward to last week. I was mowing the lawn, with my usual unabashed enthusiasm, and I noticed that the yard looked…different.

Exactly how “different” I can’t say, but I can tell you that the yard contained far more dirt than it should have. As a matter of fact, certain sections of it had abandoned the classification of “grass” and moved into “scorched earth.” These sections were crisscrossed with mounds of torn dirt stretching miniature trails around my lawn.

Upon closer inspection, and after several hours of exhaustive ecological research (which is the kind of research consisting of drinking a beer, staring at the ground and scratching my head), I determined that the hilly paths of dirt were mole burrows.

At first, I was overjoyed. No grass means no mowing, right? Thanks mole, feel free to dig up the rest of the yard. Now if I can teach you to perform rudimentary plumbing repairs, we’ll be all set.

Then something came over me.

I became angry with this mole. He had encroached upon my territory, defiled my property and hadn’t even bothered send me a check for his share of the mortgage. What a jerk. I felt violated.
It’s on, mole. It’s on.

I declared war on this mole, resigning myself to the fact that I would not rest until he was banished from my yard forever—or until I got tired. I thought of all the great military men in American history: Ulysses S. Grant, George Patton, Lieutenant Dan, Cap’n Crunch. What would they do in a wartime lawn crisis such as this?

The answer was obvious: They’d ask the internet.

My Google search of “getting rid of a mole” yielded 502,000 results. Unfortunately, most of these referred to the “skin mole” variety. Many of the rest catered to the “organized crime mole” category. After spending a considerable amount of time sifting through unrelated pages (and pausing to do some “relevant research” on a fantasy football site), I found what I was looking for.

A mole’s sustenance comes from earthworms and grubs. The tunnels they dig come as a result of their search for these creepy-crawly treats. Apparently, large sections of my yard are veritable buffets of invertebrate goodness.

So, the most straightforward solution to a mole problem is to rid the yard of its food supply. The mole will leave the area in search of more bountiful property (which is to say “the neighbors’ yard”). There are several lawn fertilizer products on the market that will kill earthworms and grubs. All I would have to do is buy one and spread it over my yard.

Executing this, however, requires actual work—work that I didn’t really feel like doing—so I ultimately decided against it. Besides, I like my slimy lawn bugs right where they are; I might need them someday. They could come in handy if I ever decide to pull an earthworm-themed prank on one of my kids.

I checked out some of the other options for getting rid of moles and eliminated them one by one. They were either too time-consuming, too expensive, or required me get up off the chair. Also, none of them involved explosions or the cast from “The A-Team.” Bummer.

Considering the fact that it’s almost October, I’ve decided to let the mole problem go for now. I’m pretty much finished mowing until spring (hallelujah), and my lawn is about to receive the monumental pimp-slap of Midwestern winter. I would imagine that my mole will soon be passed out for the next six months anyway, dreaming sugarplum visions of hitting Vegas with Sonic the Hedgehog.

I’ll confront the problem again when the weather gets better. Maybe by that time the guys from “The A-Team” will have dropped by and given me a few pointers.

Until then, sweet dreams, mole. Sweet dreams.