I have showered more love on this old 1940’s farmhouse than on any person living. Certainly, I’ve spent more money on it than I care to count. But more than the house itself—an undistinguished structure made interesting only by my renovation—it’s the land I fell in love with.
The way my foot sinks into the rich, loamy soil; the five varieties of grapevines; the ancient apple tree that produces enough to make dozens of pies, gallons of applesauce, and plenty left over to satiate the birds; smoky golden Mekel pears; red quince branching like a display of Japanese ikebana; the voluble eucalyptus, the wind in its leaves like gentle laughter; and the twin cypresses, their upward curving branches like arms extended in thanksgiving.
Yet these days my love is thankless; it certainly is unrequited. Oh, it was fun in the beginning. Isn’t it always? Under the overhanging branches of the redwood grove, shielded from the afternoon sun, I used to sit on my throne—a weathered Adirondack chair—surveying my domain and thinking to myself, “Life sure is good.”
Until it wasn’t.
It started with the moles. Or were they voles? I can’t tell the difference—can you? Whatever they were, their well-planned invasion soon became my daily misery. I won’t elaborate...