Gophers, Minestrone and Ubiquitous Welcomes

March 23, 2021- I set out this morning, for what I thought would be a day of working in a Literacy Project. Arriving at the school, I was informed that I was to work with Eighth Grade Science students, and this was not a suggestion. The details are complex, but the situation is not the fault of the teenagers, so I put as much effort into helping them understand DNA and RNA, as my scientifically illiterate self could muster. It is not as hard as it is sometimes presented. The result was that the kids were hoping I would stay for the rest of the semester. That won’t happen, because of other commitments-but I know efforts are being made to secure the instructional program.

Another warm welcome, this time at a local soup, salad and sandwich establishment, at which I am a weekly visitor, featured both piping hot Minestrone and fresh-baked bread, along with a cheerful server, who never stopped working- bringing food, helping bag to-go orders, sweeping the floor or clearing tables. I always feel like my presence matters there, which is not always the case for a single older man. Actually, it seems as if my presence is wanted in more and more places, both in-person and online. I’ll take this state of affairs, and the rain-checks that come with it, any day of the week, over the occasional surliness and side-eyes that had started to pop up, as winter wore on.

This evening, I joined an online discussion on gardening, which featured, among other things, gopher extermination. Gophers are a competitor for any fruits, grains and vegetables grown in the Mountain Southwest. The veteran farmer who offered the program was quite matter-of-fact about the necessity of being not nice, in dealing with these competitors. There is, other than coexistence, which runs the risk of both dietary and financial ruin, no gentle way to deal with gophers, moles, prairie dogs-or javelinas, for that matter. He went through tunnel traps, toxic deterrents and electric fencing. I will go with construction cloth, below the planting area, and see how that works-though my neighbours had no issue with gophers last season.

Every day, as is said in the Sheryl Crow song, is a winding road.

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