Today if you saw some crazy woman pedaling a three-wheeled bike down the street and carrying a 4 ft.-tall tree in her rear basket, well that was me. I was on my way to the garden to plant my satsuma orange tree in the hole that GameBoy dug last week.
But prior to planting the tree, I was watering my pea seedlings when I had this odd sensation that I wasn’t alone. At first I thought I saw a cat out of the corner of my eye, but I realized that my mind was just playing tricks on me–probably just a hallucination from staying up too late last night studying.
Within a few moments, though, I realized that my sixth sense wasn’t entirely off. For their was an odd rustle in some weeds growing by the lavender bushes. And that rustle was soon accompanied by the appearance of a Jabba-the-Hutt-sized gopher, his reddish fur gleaming over his well-fed flanks.
**Let me just pause this narrative to remind you, gentle reader, of my RODENT PHOBIA. I say this in all caps, because those of you who’ve seen me encounter RODENTS know that such encounters make me shake, cry, scream, and become incontinent all at the same time. Let me also tell you that this particular gopher terrorizes a block of four gardens–a space of about 1000 sq ft–and that he’s been known to pop up and thumb his nose at all of us liberal pacifist graduate student gardeners as we work hard to grow our organic mesculun salad greens.**
So when Jabba reared his ugly head at me, instinct kicked in and I flung a few rocks his way as I yelled at him to GO AWAY. He popped back into his hole for a moment and then he quickly reappeared. I threw some larger chunks of wood as I brandished my hoe [Note: my hoe is painted a very jaunty bright purple color, but is nevertheless still good for threatening gophers]. Jabba-the-gopher just stayed there, staring me down with his beady little black eyes. In that moment I realized that he’s not all that much different-looking than TobyCat (sans pointy ears) and I had a momentary feeling of fondness for the creature.
But then my instincts kicked in again and more rock-throwing and yelling ensued. As soon as it seemed that he had retreated deep into his hole, I took the shovel over to that area of the garden and proceeded to dig through all of the surrounding holes and tunnels, making sure that the gopher would be hard-pressed to reappear again.
Then I kept my sharpest tools and a few good rocks close at hand as I completed my task of planting the satsuma tree. In the meantime I tried to dispel all thoughts of gopher cuteness from my mind as I plowed through a few more holes and tunnels before I left off my efforts for the day.