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August, 2013

A Prisoner in Paradise

Have you seen the pictures I posted of my beautiful home? It’s paradise. The day I saw it for the first time, seven years ago, I knew in less than five minutes that this was my dream home. It has the most beautiful backyard and beyond it is a huge hill that wraps around the yard. For someone like me who enjoys nature and the outdoors, it’s truly a dream place to live.

I remember the first time I saw a deer on the back hill, of course I grabbed my camera and have been taking deer pictures ever since. And when I saw my first coyote, I was a little anxious but still excited. Then came the bobcat…. okay, I kept my distance.

The first time I saw a rattlesnake, it was a shock but I knew they existed in Southern California. I just didn’t expect to see them every year.  They come out in the morning to warm up on concrete or stone and we have a stone walkway so I stay away in the morning hours. Now this year, the skunks showed up. Yes, that’s plural. A family of skunks has been coming around, in fact last night I was outside after dinner and a skunk walked right past me! If my back had been turned I might not have seen him and could have walked right into him. And then what?

So I avoid going outside in the mornings for snakes, and in the early evening for skunks.  But I do have a window of freedom from late morning into the afternoon (the hottest part of the day). Beyond that I’m a prisoner in paradise.

Here’s what the gardener found this week…

The truth is, I would still choose this house again. I just need to get some tall boots… and maybe a skunk suit so I can blend…


Problem Solved.

I regret it had to come to this. But here are the harsh details: I planted a white peach tree because white peaches are a delicacy and these were going to be organic, too. My tree was getting bigger and this year, it produced more peaches than ever. I was so excited to see all the blossoms in the spring and could hardly wait to pick my first peach. Imagine my dismay when the peaches finally came and I would walk out  to see 5 or 10 peaches on the ground every day, most of them with just as bite taken out, and they were still hard and nowhere near ready to pick. But they were ready enough for the squirrels.

One day in particular, there were 24 unripe, damaged peaches on the ground. So of the 200 or so produced by the tree, we got to eat five. The other ones that I was forced to pick early finally softened but they weren’t sweet. And the ones I held out for until they were a bit soft, mostly had bruises and brown spots anyway.

I can’t say I didn’t try. I used a hot pepper spray, stuffed beach balls into the tree, tied dangling CDs from the branches, traps, plastic hawks, and a rubber snake. Nothing worked. And the tree became a source of stress and anxiety of what was coming next year. So it’s gone. The gardener dug it up today. Watching him carry it away was sad. You win, you mangy, rat-faced, no-good, low-life, beady-eyed, scum-sucking, peach-eating squirrel. But don’t be a stranger… my pomegranates are coming next.