I’m turning into my father. It hasn’t evolved into his full-blown behaviours, but tics are seeping in.
First came muttering about other drivers.
“Get off my tail!” he’ll growl while slamming on the brakes.
“Nice signal, buddy, where’d you learn to drive?”
Once so incensed by a “hot-shot kid” who drove too fast, he stood in the driveway with a hose, letting a stream fly as the car sped past.
As a toddler, I once nodded in agreement with Dad’s onroad assessments, “Sum bits, Daddy, sum bits.”
So perhaps not such a stretch I now mutter when others pass on double lines, drive with their brights on and turn without signals.
I’ve also adopted Dad’s penchant for pitting himself against the elements — flora or fauna.
A farm boy at heart, he’s never let go of the “us against them” mentality; essentially if you’re not raising it to eat it, it’s not welcome.
Dad douses all weeds with Roundup, which “dissolves on contact with the ground, dear.”
If other pests could be so readily dealt with, he’d make them inert, too.
During my childhood, he obsessed over a tom cat peeing on the front door and others using the garden as a litter box.
So the top of the fence got lined with carpet tacking. The front step was outfitted with his own invention: a board covered with tinfoil strips connected by electrical wires to provide a light shock to anything that stepped on it.
While I haven’t resorted to such extremes, I do find myself spending a lot of time plotting how to stave off encroaching creatures.
First were the skunks under the porch. Loud music, spotlights at night and asking neighbours to store pet food indoors eventually encouraged the family to move on. Next came frights with a bear and cubs, killing daytime walks alone and into the backyard at night.
Then there were mice. Moved everything but cans and jars into higher cupboards. Checked daily for mouse sign. Told the cats to try harder. Considered traps.
Finally spotted one hiding from the cat, so I grabbed it by the tail and tossed it outside. Found another’s carcass by stench and hope that’s the end.
But the latest was the worst — a packrat.
Thought it was the cute little squirrel making a nest from insulation in our pumphouse, so swept up the droppings and let him be. Until I heard rustling and spotted a large pink nose and ear that wasn’t the squirrel.
After confirming it was a creature that fell on the “them” side, I began plotting.
Set out a snaptrap but worried the squirrel would get caught. Put heavy pots around the water pump to protect the insulation. Blocked off a hole in the compost after finding a decaying tomato and stick of celery in the lair. Cleared away clumps of grass it had made a second nest with and got bit by something.
“They” were winning.
The rat steadily set off the snap trap and ate the peanut butter but eluded capture. Eventually, old cheese in a live trap proved to be its downfall and it’s been relocated to the wilds.
It’s only a matter of time before the next battle, however; my genetics dictate there’s no avoiding it.