Sharing with rats

Today is a rainy day.  I pulled up my hood to stand outside on the driveway and watch Geoff from next door pull out the snaggled branches from the downed pine tree.  He cut the tree, dropped it across the driveway and hauled out a few truckloads of green debris yesterday. Today is clean-up and tonight a burn pile.  He’ll have a burn party with appetizers and wine. Parts of the tree snapped off some fir branches on an ancient and lovely tree as it fell.  It was bound to happen. The lower branches need to be removed anyway, don’t they?

But the beautiful, spreading, lightly-framed ceanothus in full bloom stands arms spread wide, untouched in its indigo splendor. The empty space where the tree stood just yesterday noon confuses me each time I step outside.  Like when daddy shaved off his mustache and you knew something was different.  Its a thing gone.  Like every day you are gone and I don’t see you gone.  I feel it. Something that you don’t see is different than something new to notice (like when you came to visit after a long time gone).  Remember last week when you and I walked into the garden, the same garden that I’d been checking on a regular basis for months-Hey, you said, where’s the birdies water? The birdbath had tipped over in the soft, damp earth. We picked it up, placed it upright and you swished it clean and added fresh water while I propped it with a hand-built foundation of salvaged bricks and stones.  There, you said.  And looked back to check it. Come on birdies.  I saw birds in it yesterday.

My fruit trees bloom in the same sequence each season, reminding us that harvest time is near as we watch and count the blossoms on the youngest of our trees.  First the almonds, closely followed by the apricots and plums and cherries then nectarines and finally later in March the pears and apples begin. This will be a good year for apricots and plums, I tell you.  So come back to visit in June and July. The almonds come early and often lose blooms in the hard rains of March. Did you know that the clipped branches, called “pruned” twigs and branches of these trees can be brought in to flower in a water jar on the table? I had to tell Salvador not to toss them into the green-waste pile.  He was so pleased when he saw them opening and fragrant in my warm sunny kitchen. He smiled and shook his head in disbelief.

Today I noticed that the lemon tree has been damaged as it has been every year around this time.  I asked my friend and yours, “Guy Jim”, and he says that rats love citrus leaves.  I can see where the leaves and small branches have been snipped right off. 6 ft. fencing around the garden perimeter protects it from deer. Rabbits can’t reach as high as the chewing has occurred, so I think Guy Jim is right! Maybe I can put something snaggly on the ground, something sticky and gooey on the trunks or maybe I’ll have to get some electronic device-like a motion-activated sprinkler. What do you think I should do?  We have to protect our lemons and limes and oranges and the beautiful leaves that are useful to protect the fruit.

I think its funny to think about the rats coming into the garden at night, sneaking toward my trees and getting surprised by a sprinkler!  They’d drag their little drenched, furry bodies away, tail sticky with mud, back into the brush.  They’d work for hours licking themselves clean, fluffing dry and building up their courage before trying it again. How many times will it take before they stop trying?  Hmm. Maybe they’d get swim pants on and play in the water, dance and sing and hide whern the sun comes out again.  I’d better go set up a video camera and wait.  You tube, here we come; Grandma and the Rats.

On second thought, maybe those rats can have the lower leaves and I’ll try some tree netting on the upper part!  We’ll share the trees!  Like we did last year and all the years before. Sharing is good.  Isn’t it little buddy, even if you are sharing with rats! gma

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