So on Friday I decided to do some gardening, because I’d hit a wall with Kaia in a tavern drinking herself to oblivion. (She has reasons, but still, her coping mechanisms could use a little work.) The compost pile needed turning and preparing for autumn rains, so I had my pitchfork and shovel and Yard Butler compost-turner thingie. I girt my loins, winced at the bright sunshine, and determined gamely to carry on.
Trundles was sleeping the sleep of the recently-visited-the-vet, but Miss B could not let me wander outside unescorted. The Mad Tortie was also about–I saw a flicker of her tail as I was carrying the pitchfork to the compost heap, but she looked like she was on business so I forgot her as soon as she hopped the fence.
I really should have known better.
The compost is doing really well this year, I’ve finally got a good balance going in the heap and the bottom is all that black, crumbly, fluffy gardener’s gold. I was sweating freely, into a good rhythm, and had just about finished when an ungodly noise rose behind me.
It was so sudden and loud I actually flinched.
It’s a good thing I did, too, because a dead squirrel whizzed overhead. I swear I felt the rancid breath of its passing ruffle my sweat-damp hair.
Maybe I should back up a little? Okay.
So, the Princess came home from school early last week and said, “You might want to get the shovel and a paper bag. There’s another dead squirrel up the road.”
I’ll admit, I was taken aback for a moment, and could only think to ask, “All dead, or mostly dead?”
These distinctions are important.
“Pretty sure all dead,” she replied, and proceeded to go looking for a snack.
There’s a squirrel crossing, perhaps, or the neighbors cutting down trees have forced an exodus. At any rate, there’s a place where the fuzzballs cross, and the law of averages means some of them get pasted, poor things. The upshot of this is that I’m running out of places to bury them–the rose garden really appreciates the fertilizer, but I just can’t fit more rodents in and still leave space for Bandit to be buried next to Critic the Lamented. The backyard is right out, because B will uproot them no matter how deeply they’re buried and then Trundles will try to lick them back to life, and I don’t want my front lawn speckled with squirrel graves.
I may be forced to such a measure, though. It disturbs me to see anything rotting by the side of the road without a proper burial.
Anyway, I trooped up the road, swore under my breath while loading poor Unknown Squirrel into the paper bag, carted her home, and had to bury her in a particularly marshy bit of the side-yard.
What I did not reckon on was the fact that marshy soil yields much easier to cat paws than stone-dry packed dirt. The Tortie had apparently decided not to hunt for a vole or a bird that day, since there was something already marinating in the fridge, so to speak. She also apparently didn’t want to hunker over it in the side-yard; I can only surmise it was too public a place for her, um, intended dead-squirrel bacchanalia.
So, Friday, I’m turning the compost heap, while behind me, the Mad Tortie is stealthily excavating. Then she makes a mistake–she tries to drag her prize under the fence without B noticing.
She might as well have tried to grow wings.
…TO BE CONTINUED