Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What's a bigger yard pest than a gopher?

I was all worried about the mess and destruction caused by my friendly neighborhood gopher and neglected to protect my yard from a bigger hazard:

My house is on a corner next to a court. There are about a half dozen houses between my house and the end of the court so it's a nice long, straight, relatively quiet street. My side yard is mostly an open hilly lawn with a flower bed along the house and my fenced deck sticks out at the back corner of my property. Because of the hill, the last owner built these funky little railway tie/rock/stone steps for access to the deck. The top of those steps is a little wooden platform, hidden from the end of the court.

This is a favorite hideaway of those other noisy destructive pests, neighborhood children. Oh, don't get all up in my face about calling them pests. There are perfectly good, sweet, angelic children in the neighborhood too, I'm just talking here about the little vandals. Over the past 11 years there have been many young kids who would sit at the top of the stairs, "hiding" from their parents at the end of the court (in fact, a parent told me that his son calls it his "secret spot"). The street of the court and the adjacent sidewalks are a favorite playground for all the neighbor kids since there isn't much traffic there. It only becomes an issue to me when they start to tear things apart. Normally I just quietly shudder at the continuous noise while thinking that in a few years they'll grow up, be able to drive and won't bother hanging around their home.

I have an ever-bearing lemon tree on the side of the house. For most of the year there is fruit, either green, ripe or rotten. Periodically a kid will rip off a couple of them and toss them in the street. No big deal, there's lots more where that came from. Denuding half of the tree by ripping off TWENTY of them, shredding them on my stairs, throwing the bits all over (including under the deck and in the street and on neighbor's lawns), ripping up the rocks along the stairs and kicking the small stones onto the lawn? All while shrieking at the top of their lungs in a tone just barely in the range of human hearing? Too much.

I caught them in the act but I was so stunned by the destruction and mess that I only got a look at one of the culprits, I boy I've previously told not to tear up the lawn and not to throw rocks at my windows. I yelled at them to get out of there, then yelled at them to clean up the mess. They all took off running except for the one little red-headed boy who tried to stare me down. It didn't work. I was so angry I went back inside my house to cool down since, after all, they are just kids and I can't go postal on them. By the time the flames quit coming out of my ears and the steam stopped pouring from my nostrils and I felt I could look outside again, they had "cleaned up" as shown in the picture above.

I grabbed a garbage bag and did the rest of the cleaning, picking up bits and pieces of lemon and peel from all over the place since I didn't really want to leave it lying around for those other types of pests. I couldn't reach the 3 lemons that had been thrown beneath the deck and I'm sure the gopher and mice and squirrels (and hopefully not rats) will be very happy with their treats. It took about a half hour to clean up, put the rocks back, try to scoop the little stones off the lawn. I stomped back in my house feeling very grumpy.

About an hour later my doorbell rang and I answered it, hoping it was the brats come to apologize (bwahahah - and people say I'm not optimistic!). It wasn't, it was a dad from down the court. He said he saw me cleaning, and since his house had been a victim of a "little prank" he wondered if the same had happened to me. I explained what happened and he assured me that his kids had been home at the time (... probably some of those angels). He asked if I could identify who had been there and I realized I wasn't even sure how many there had been. I told him I only got a good look at the one kid and he said "redhead?" and "boy?" and nodded his head sagely when I agreed. Apparently the little redheaded boy and his equally redheaded sister were the trouble makers down that way.

The good news is they're moving in June. The bad news is ... there are always more where they came from. Maybe this time all the new kids will be angels.

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