By some miracle I felt a lot better today. No more sore throat, no sniffles - it was wonderful! I don't know how I managed to kick this cold, but I did. And after not being out of the house for two days I wanted out badly so I decided to cut the front lawn and clean out the front garden.
It went well. Until Freddie showed up.
I discovered Freddie quite by accident during the summer when I was weeding the garden. He ran along the grass, dangerously close to my shoes, and popped back into the safety of the flagstone garden wall. I didn't scream. I wanted to, and then I very quickly determined the weeding was over for the day (who are we kidding - for the summer), but I didn't scream.
My Beloved spotted Freddie a few times after I did, you know, after the weeding suddenly became his responsibility. He also found Freddie's elaborate system of burrows and tunnels beneath the cover of our potato vines and the little purple flowering groundcover neither of us can remember the name of.
We discovered that Freddie likes lilies after he ate my birthday presents - two beautiful Stargazer lily bulbs (my favourite flowers) that my Mom and Dad gave me on the saddest birthday of my life this past April. I hated Freddie a little after that. Mostly he just scares me, but I do have to admit that I full out hate him for eating my Stargazers.
Anyway, once the surviving assembly of flowers and shrubs took hold and took off, we didn't have to do all that much weeding and Freddie was left to his own devices with the run of the garden. For the most part anyway. My Beloved did try to force an eviction by putting Lucy the cat's poop in a few of his burrow holes, but apparently Freddie doesn't mind cat poop. When all was said and done we were left with moldy cat turds and additional burrows.
We all knew the day was coming when the plants would die and be pulled out, requiring a reassessment our uneasy relationship with Freddie. And today was the day.
Freddie won this round. I did the best I could and removed probably 75% of the dead or dying plants, but I just couldn't bring myself to take out the remaining groundcover or turn over the soil. I caught sight of him twice, ducking for cover, and that was enough for me. I realize I'm a thousand times his size and both times I saw him he was running away from me, but small things that move fast scare me. And Freddie is small and extraordinarily fast.
As much as he scares me, and as much as I hate him for eating my birthday present, I felt a little bad for the little squirt. He's had a beautiful, safe, comfy home all summer, and today the wrecking crew came in. I don't know what voles do in the winter, but we're making his safe little have a barren, exposed wasteland. I know it's our garden and we can't let a vole run our lives, but, well, I guess I'm feeling weak. I know what it's like to have your safe, comfortable world turned upside down and I don't know if I have the stomach to inflict that on another creature.
Even if he is a lily eating vole.
So I don't know what the answer is. We really do have to finish cleaning out the garden and I'm not crazy about him staying there, but where else will he go? I'd love to be able to get down on my hands and knees and get my fingers in the dirt next spring, but if I know Freddie's just inches away tunneling underground or, even worse, running past my knees, I won't enjoy it at all. So where do we go from here?
Does anyone want a vole?