Monday, August 01, 2005

All's Fair in Love and War

During wartime, anything is fair game. If you saw the movie "Caddyshack" and witnessed Bill Murray's battle with the gopher, you know exactly what I mean.

I am still engaged in my own uneasy war with wildlife. For a long time, I had negotiated an unsteady truce through the liberal use of cayenne pepper. But my armadillo enemy is still waiting in the wings; if I pepper my mulch bed, he'll stay away, but if the cayenne is washed away by the rain and I haven't had time to reapply it, he'll dig a hole to China.

Armadillos are amazingly single-minded creatures. One they have gotten into a routine, it's nearly impossible to break. This one loves to cause a bustle in my hedgerow, and he's continued on for months now. Even when I've peppered the yard, I can see the evidence of his visit. He'll poke around a bit, then get a snoutful and go on his way, leaving a patch of pushed-around mulch.

The afternoon Florida rains, combined with the yard sprinklers, have made it a challenge to keep up with planting my pepper landmines. As a result, I find a tunnel to the center of the earth at least once a week. On those days, my mind dances with visions of vicious armadillo torture. I picture various ways to destroy my nemisis in glorious Technicolor detail.

So if I had the chance to commit dillo-cide, would I actually do it? God, with His wicked sense of humor, decided to put me to the test the other night. I had been out, and in the meantime we'd had a lovely monsoon so I knew the pepper was gone. As I pulled my Aztek into the alley, who should be crossing right in front of me but Mr. Dillo himself?

Immediately I felt a murderous glee. Sure, armadillos have formidable claws and body armor, but I figured the little bugger would be no match for Canyonero's tires. He was ambling along, bold as brass...he might as well have had a bright red target painted on his body. All I had to do was gun the engine and my dillo problems would be history. The nasty little bugger would be a smoosh spot on the pavement, and the turkey vultures would be thanking me for breakfast in the morning. Since my 'Tek is maroon, I wouldn't even have to worry if there was some residual gore splatter.

There was only one problem...I just couldn't do it!

I sat behind the wheel, watching the dillo as he crossed my driveway without a care in the world. Without even seeing it, I knew that a lovely mess was waiting for me in the yard. Here was the opportunity to destroy my problem once and for all...but I just couldn't harm a living creature.

As destructive as he is, Mr. Dillo and his kin were undoutedly here long before me. Perhaps in the old days, before the land was cleared and Duloc Manor was erected, my lot was a prime armadillo diner. I just couldn't stand to smoosh him for doing what comes naturally.

Finally he had crossed the driveway, heading for the preserve land. Obviously he had completed his rounds for the night, so he was in no big hurry. I parked the car and cut through my yard, casting a sideways glance at the Chinese portal that had been opened once again.

Sighing, I made a mental note to reapply the pepper. I'd had my big chance, and I'd blown it...but still, don't we all need our nemesis to make our life complete? Ahab has Moby Dick, Captain Kirk has Kahn, and and Maggie Simpson has the freaky, one-eyebrowed baby. I have my armadillo, and the war marches on.

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