Monday, September 15, 2008



Back when my workplace's landlord gave me access to the junk-filled plot of land that would become my garden, I had the idea that my co-workers and the people at the businesses in our little compound would enjoy hanging out there during lunch. This has been a miserable failure.

I'm the only one who uses the garden.

Well, me, and all the wildlife. I have a female hummingbird who regularly joins me for lunch, and who hangs out with me after work and watches me as I tend the garden. I'm convinced that this is one particular bird, because she has a stripe on her beak, and I don't think this is a typical marking. Besides, hummingbirds are notoriously shy and aggressive. They don't like sharing territory with anyone.

I feel completely honored to have the company of this tiny bird. She perches on her favorite twigs and we quietly keep an eye on each other.

I'm more ambivalent about the local mice. I stopped feeding the birds when I realized that the finches were tossing their thistle seed all over the place and attracting an alarming amount of mice. One on lunch break, I saw six little mousiekins, all gorging themselves on thistle. I don't want to be responsible for a mouse population explosion, because ultimately, it will end badly for the mice. I made enough of a fuss that all the mousetraps in my studio are live-traps, but most people prefer glue traps, which are about the cruelest thing I can think of. If the garden gets over run with mice, all the neighboring businesses will, too. And I'd be responsible for the death of these mice.

I do miss having goldfinches in my garden, and am conflicted about feeding the varmints.

The snails are another story. They are an invasive non-native pest. Just tonight, I threw over sixty of the slimy bastards over the garden fence. Sixty.

Much of my childhood was spent in solitary pursuits. If I wasn't reading, I was weaving huge nests for myself out of tree branches, or messing with the local streams. (I admittedly watched an appalling amount Gilligan's Island reruns, but nevermind that.) As a kid, I didn't seem to have the knack for making a lot of friends, but that was all right, because I was perfectly capable of amusing myself.

And sometimes, as I'm eating siting outside in my garden, eating lunch with only tiny wild creatures for company, I wonder how much has really changed.


Eliza said...

Your childhood sounds a lot like mine! And your garden sounds wonderful. Why don't your co-workers want to share it with you?

Anonymous said...

Outside in the garden quietly watching critters with you, or inside making small talk with co-workers? Not a hard decision! I'm there in spirit. =) Wild Rose

km said...

I'm amazed that your co-workers aren't enjoying it with you... it sounds divine. My garden consists of two pots of basil that I have to stop myself from over-"pruning", a pot of mint that is threatening to take over, and a few other herbs that just can't compete.

Martha said...

Oh lordy Lisa. You had plenty of friends. Anyone else was just too intimidated by your talent and intellect. It amazes me how people don't seem to notice nature or care about it. Take a look at many back gardens here in NYC and you will see spaces in which nobody ventures. And that's with real estate at a premium!

I wish I lived nearby. I would spread my chicken fever. Although I just saw a mouse in my backyard. They can squeeze into the coop and nibble at the food. Hopefully nothing bigger will attempt this.

I love that you are throwing your snails "over the wall"! That was always Grandma's term for getting rid of unwanted things in her garden.

your sis

knitica said...

Chris accidentally pitched a snail into our neighbor's garden. Not quite the best solution.

I can't believe your co-workers use glue traps! Do they enjoy listening to the mice dying for 24 hrs? If you're going to kill them, have the balls to do it quickly with a snap trap and face up to what you did every time you empty it. That's my theory.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Oh, no, my co-workers humor me and tell me when the live traps catch a live mouse.

But I worry about the other businesses in out little compound. These are mostly constructions trades, and I don't think they're so worried about the little mousies as I am.

At Dallas Theater Center, we were over run with rats. The carpenters made a game of each setting a trap and competing to see which one caught the largest rat. They measured.

God, I hated that job.

Gina said...

I just got out of a long-protracted fight with my landlord over whether my pots of basil and tomatoes on the garage roof were what were attracting the rats. Sadly, all the vegatation was destroyed in one evening by what I can only assume was a roving party of them, perhaps having a "progressive dinner"in the neighborhood. I, too, stopped feeding the birds because of the rodents...the final straw was when I was three mice running around the INSIDE of the feeder happily munching away. I do so miss the birds, though. Ah, Baltimore....

At my grandmother's house in San Antonio, we girls were in charge of collecting all of the snails into a tupperware dish and then turning it over on top of the mounds of dirt sprouting vegetation in the alley. Somehow, though I think this was more of a way of keeping us occupied and out of the house than it was a reflection of my Nana's love of critters and avoidance of the beer and salt method of "removal".

If I were there I'd have tea with you everyday in the garden and bring my mitt for snail chucking!

Gina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ziska said...

gollygee said...

Your garden sounds fabulous. I feel the same way about mousetraps!


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