Monday, August 01, 2005

life and death on the west lawn

I generally spend the first day of unemployment catching up on yard work, and today was no exception. I had already mown the lawn on Saturday, but it had been quite some time since anyone had tended to the area behind the fence that runs slightly downhill for about eight feet in one direction and the length of the fence in the other. We sit on a pie shaped lot, and that length part is a killer.

It was so thick with grass and weeds back there that I had to put my shoulder into the gate to get it open. Most of it had grown to waist high, and my second-hand push mower coughed, sputtered, and complained the whole time. I was completely soaked with sweat from hat to boots and was just waiting to run across another small boulder like the one that had destroyed my last mower blade the previous week. My nerves were frayed and all my energy drained by the time I found myself in the middle of the final, yet thickest part and looked down to see that I was covered in crickets.

“Covered” may be too strong a word, but it was certainly the most crickets I could ever recall seeing on my person at one time.

Anyway, I have nothing against the little buggers and would have calmly picked a single cricket off and placed it on the fence beside me. However, looking down to see a holy host of anything would scare the initial shit out of anyone. I don’t care if you look down to see an unexpected litter of kittens crawling up your legs—you are going to curse, get a rush of adrenaline and then defend yourself in a very primal way.

Had I the energy, I would have run screaming like a little bitch along the fencerow much to the undoubted amusement of the cop and the truck driver who have houses behind me. I instead did something that looked more akin to a mountain folkdance. It was the sort of thing you see native people doing, and now I theorize that many of their traditional dances have origins in trying to remove the crickets after a long day in the field.

I finished clearing all that and then went about the grim task of checking to see if there were any baby rabbits left in the nest that Carl Weathers (my dog) had found on the west lawn on Sunday. He had killed a couple by the time Mrs. Camino stopped him, and she was understandably angry at the beast. She did not speak to him the rest of the evening.

See, our contract with the rabbits and other creatures is this: the west lawn here at Casa Camino is theirs for the summer. We will not mow the grass or in any way hassle the native creatures on that side of the house. We will watch them from the bedroom window and only venture in to kill the really nasty weeds or add to the compost heap. We have had a family of bluebirds and now one of sparrows in the birdhouse, and there has been a whole cacophony of June bugs outside the window. There have been countless nests and litters of rabbits born at Casa Camino this year, and we have only lost some from two of them, as far as I know.

The first was a litter that we found in the backyard (south lawn) and up against the house, which was clearly outside of their allotted zone. Unfortunately, a neighborhood cat also found them.

The second was Carl’s instinctive display yesterday.

When we were flipping through the channels later we happened across a nature documentary on arctic foxes. They were each as cute as Carl Weathers, and there were many shots of them wrestling as pups, being tended to by their mothers, snuggly sleeping in a pile in their burrow, and then snatching cute little baby lemmings out of a nest and breaking their necks.

Of course I was disappointed at Carl Weathers for doing it, but one has to always keep in mind that house pets, no matter how docile they appear or how many sweaters or bows you adorn them in (and I don’t, for the record), still have that primal need to tear into another creature that has been clearly identified as food. If given the option, cats and dogs would be the last to join PETA. It does not matter if you have a toy Chihuahua named Mahatma Gandhi with a big MG stitched into his small pink sweater and matching top hat—should he be placed in a situation where his instincts kick in, he will cover that sweater in the blood of another creature. He will do it even to baby rabbits, and he will do it with the same moral ambivalence that the rabbit would’ve given a blade of grass.

Anyway, I went back to check the nest after I finished with clearing the behind the fence and found one, maybe two baby rabbits still in their hole. There are probably a couple of other full nests hidden out there under the weeds on the west lawn, but I was glad to see something left of this litter. They were sleeping soundly and occasionally kicking out the same way Carl Weathers does in his sleep, and I sat there watching as the peaceful scene or approaching heatstroke lulled me into a transfixed state of sorts. It was then that a cricket the size of a Swiss army knife came flying from nowhere to thump against the side of my face.
And it was then that I discovered I had regained sufficient energy to scream like a little bitch.


Blogger melusina said...

Haha! Well, its good to scream like a little bitch now and then. Mebbe you should look into getting some goats to eat up your overgrown grass and the crickets too. Then you can delve deeper into your goat fetish.

We have a cat who is the sweetest, most docile thing. But if she gets hold of a bug, she plays with it in such a satanic way, slowly torturing it before finally killing it. I am certain that if we let her outside she would do the same to any other creature.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Rex L. Camino said...

I have noticed that big difference between cats and dogs. Dogs go for the quick kill, while cats tend to savor it.

I don't know into which camp the goats would fall, but Mrs. Camino and I were planning to get some (along with a few chickens and perhaps a llama or two) whenever we acquire some farmland.

However, "fetish", although a perfectly valid word, makes it sound somehow wrong.

12:39 PM  
Blogger melusina said...

Ah! A llama is always good. Don't forget the peacock too, but I heard they can be mean little bitches.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

Truly a great post!

"If given the option, cats and dogs would be the last to join PETA"--I've long held this to be true and am glad to see someone put so simply (I would have rambled on making the idea a six page post of its own).

Have you considered mastering a combo of a mountian folkdance while screaming like a little bitch? I bet they'd give you your own infomercial.


2:02 PM  
Blogger Rex L. Camino said...

Gracias, Ryan.

You've given me an idea: I'm sure that mountain folkdancing and screaming like a little bitch can burn quite a few calories if sustained for a long period of time. What if I were to market that as a fad diet?

5:51 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

I think that perhaps Richard Simmons has already done so...

Although maybe not the mountain folkdancing part.

3:27 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home