REFLECTIONS: A manicured yard no longer

I have a manicured yard.

Correction:  I had a manicured yard.

When I bought the house we currently live in on in Big Rapids, I spent a great deal of time many years ago creating gardens and groundcovers.  As well as numerous hostas plantings. 

I was happy.  The plants were happy.  It was my solitude.  My very own enchanted castle.

Then I was taught a lesson.

Gardens and hostas are a deer’s buffet.  They are the hors d’oeuvres of the feast, the escargot and Baluga caviar of foraged meals.

They ravaged it.

And my castle crumbled.

So I decided to take care of the situation.  And went on the offense.

I built a fence.  And THEN planted more hostas and other delicacies, knowing that unless deer could fly, I was safe in knowing the plantings could grow and  flourish and spread … all in blissful peace.

I was once again happy.

The hostas were happy.

The deer were not.

And one winter evening they got even.

They ganged up on me.

It was nitetime.  And I woke up to Brutus, our gorgeous and incredible mixed breed Bohemian Mountain Dog ( Muttopolis), now deceased, going berserk.

I looked outside and saw … and counted … 14 deer munching away in my front lawn on the vinca major and vinca minor ground cover that I had carefully planted to take place of the piddly grass that tried to germinate under two pine trees … now long gone.

I swear when I went to the front door, the three closest critters looked at me straight in the eye and grinned … they were getting even for me fencing off their beloved banquet spread of hostas in my backyard.

I gave up. I didn’t even shoo them away.

I figured I was saving the best part of the yard for my personal enjoyment and the plants carefully planted there could flourish, mate, entwine their roots and propagate without being  munched on and devastated.

Yep, everyone was happy.

The plants and flowers kissed each other, the bees and hummingbirds strummed along in bliss, the ferns grew tall and stately and almost knowingly  brushed across me as I wandered about them in awe.  And tranquility spread throughout the land.

Life was good.

THEN .. .along came the terminator.

His name is Loki.

He is a munching, chomping, pooping and piddling four month old Leonberger pup.

He used to be cute.

The lilies and hostas would bow down to him in awe as he wandered aimlessly throughout their land, sniffing and snorting … and fertilizing their neat and gorgeous pastures.

That was when he was cute.   When he was a little 20 pound bundle of joy with a raccoon tail.  When he was also nine weeks old.   

It is now three weeks later and twelve pounds heavier.

Yep, you heard me … that’s four pounds a week.

He’s discovered his ya ya
personality, found out he has needle sharp teeth … and no longer approaches my gardens with trepidation.   

He now looks at them with a gleam in his eyes and the face of an evil terminator.

He approaches with caution and then drops into his annihilator mood and plows into the serenity of the garden with the velocity of a weed wacker on steroids.

He gnashes his teeth, his pupils dilate and he becomes the scourge of the backyard.   His secret nickname among the flora is called Loki the Plunderer.

He can devastate a regal clump of lilies in 10 seconds … a flowering willow can be girdled in minutes … and the hostas cringe when he appears on the horizon.

And the real problem? He thinks he’s the darling of the yard. But that’s only Loki’s pumped up self esteem state of affairs.

The flora and fauna dread his look and wilt and hide when he approaches.

Now when we talk of fauna in our backyard, I’m specifically targeting the cute little fox squirrels that romp around and drive Elsa nuts.

When Loki first entered the scene it was like a western standoff:  the chatterers didn’t know what to make of him … and he couldn’t quite get the jist of where the squirrels sat on the food chain.

That has now changed with the teachings of big sister Elsa, who would like nothing better than to catch one of the pesky critters that always bother her outdoor slumbertime and swipe her food.

Elsa and Loki now work like a tag team.

…and the squirrels no longer venture out by themselves.  They go in pairs.

Our back yard used to have such a nice, quiet and serene landscape. One squirrel.  One dog.  And happy flourishing plants.

But then that new devilish critter bounds across the yard, pounces up and licks me.

…and I think: Naw.  This is more fun!

Jack Batdorff is the chairman of the Pioneer Group. Email him at jbatdorff@pioneergroup.com.

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