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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

First there were deer, then were kittens, now there are rats.

You may remember a story I told a while ago about the big buck that came running down from the hills, crossed the highway, jumped our fence, ran through our yard and crashed into the goldfish pond in the back. Although I never got to see any of this actually happen, my neighbor did. I only got to see the end result, which was a whole lot of hoof prints and a pond full of upside down and broken plants. I guess he didn’t think there would be a pond in his way. Then again, I never thought we had to worry about deer in South Side.

Then a winter or two ago, I found a wild calico kitten in my goldfish pond. Long story short, Jack scared him in there and he was trying to stay afloat and swat at the dog at the same time. Luckily, I was outside shoveling when I stopped to wonder where Jack was - and that is how I found this wee kitty. I reached my glove in, the cat latched on, and I saved her little life. After she was all dried off, fed, and had a good night’s rest in our warm kitchen, I took her down to the ASPCA. They told me they needed a name for her card, so I told them to call her Koi.

And now, last night there was a big old fat rat floating face down in the pond. It kind of freaked me out because I have never had to deal with a rat... alive or dead. Mice, yes. Bugs, of course. But a rat? Never. So I shoveled him out while Earl held the bag. Sweet Pea and her mom were watching through the fence, and Earl thought maybe this was not something a 5-year old girl should see... But mom assured us that Sweet Pea was strangely interested in life and death and how it all works. Her favorite show is the Discovery Channel and she is just full of questions, so this should be fun for her to see.

I felt bad for the rat, thinking that it must have been thirsty and tried to get a drink, fell in, and couldn’t climb out. Man, what a horrible way to die. But you would think that a rat should be able to swim... I mean, don't they live in the sewer and all? Plus, the pond has big rocks and stuff in the middle that it could have gotten onto.

A rat stranded on the island in the middle of the pond - now THAT, would have been a great picture.

But then I remembered hearing that rats get really thirsty after they’ve been poisoned - so perhaps he was dying, and that is why he couldn’t get out. That, or one of the stray cats already had their way with him and he was hurt.

Who knows… he’s dead now. Poor guy.

Oh well. Just another day in the life of a goldfish pond in the city.

The good thing that came out of all of this was that it inspired me to spend the next 3 ½ hours cleaning my yard – not that my yard had anything to do with a rat being drowning in the back, but it made me feel better to cut the grass, trim the hedges, chop down the thistle, weed both gardens, reset the accent lights on the timer, move the tires under the house, hammer down the loose end of the picket fence, cover the old shingles with a tarp (makes it look more like we're "under construction"), stack more junk in the pile for the dumpster (ie. the rusty firewood holder cause we don't have a fireplace, and the frame from the mirror because it's ugly), hose down the driveway, and clean the sidewalk up.

Now tonight when I go home, I have to kick the stray cats out of our basement. I bolted the crawl space shut and now they found their way through the window. Sneaky bastards.

You know, for a lot of pavement and buildings, I sure have my share of wildlife in this town of mine.