Pearl and George had finally retired. Years of hard work and planning had allowed them to purchase a nice home on two acres outside Atlanta, Georgia. Two acres felt like a southern plantation to them, and, now that it was spring, Pearl was looking forward to planting a variety of colorful perennials and George was itching to plant tomatoes in a small plot he’d carefully prepared.
“I’m going out to hook up soaker hoses,” George said one morning. He was tending their garden spot according to advice gleaned from experts on TV gardening shows. Approaching his storage shed, he noticed a slightly mounded trail snaking between the shed and the garden spot. George looked closer. “A dad-gum mole,” he said. “I hate moles.”
In town, George talked to a young clerk at the lawn and garden store. “These little windmills are sure-fire. Vibrations drive the mole crazy, and he’ll high-tail it,” the clerk assured him. George bought five.
Back home, he and Pearl staked four at the corners of the garden plot, then planted number five in the middle.
The next day, George found the mole’s path crossing dead center of the garden plot. He frowned, got into his truck and went back to the store.
This time, he purchased a canister of mole-repellant capsules. At home, he carefully distributed the capsules into the mole’s trail at intervals exactly as instructed on the package.
Two days later, George noticed the mole’s trail ran back to the shed and went toward some woods on the other side. “He’s on the run!” he said to Pearl.
“Well,” Pearl replied, “as long as he stays away from the garden, we can live with that.” She bent over to pick a few weeds, thinking longingly about the beautiful flowers and sweet, juicy tomatoes they’d be harvesting over the summer.
The next day, Pearl stepped off the patio and noticed the ground felt spongy. She called George and pointed out a trail that ran from the patio toward the shed and then back to the garden, “Looks like he’s back, and this time he brought friends!”
Racing to town, George searched the stores fruitlessly for alternative remedies. In desperation, he purchased a dozen more windmills and four more cans of repellant, hoping to overwhelm the enemy. That evening, George’s back was killing him, and the backyard looked like a miniature golf course. Little windmills poked up in random fashion here and there. And, despite his efforts, the mole-paths multiplied overnight. “I’d like to catch that little sucker in action,” George muttered at breakfast.
“I don’t see how one mole could be responsible for all this,” Pearl said. “I think they have an army.”
George tried homemade remedies. He poured salt into the holes. He poured vinegar and baking soda combinations, gasoline, and even cooking oil into the holes. The grass died in large brown circles. He spent afternoons wandering around the yard with an ax in his hand and malice in his eyes. Whenever he’d find the end of trail, he’d stop and stare for long periods waiting for the dirt to move slightly. Then, he’d attack in a frenzy, dirt and sweat flying.
“We’ve got plenty of room, let’s just move the garden,” Pearl suggested.
“WHAT?? Give in?” George asked incredulously.
“But we could’ve already planted the tomatoes,” Pearl said.
“Forget it. I’ll get that mole… just wait and see.”
Weeks passed while George planned new attacks and tried outlandish remedies. Meanwhile, Pearl bought tomatoes and baskets of flowers from the farmer’s market.
On the Fourth of July, George came home with a sack of fireworks.
“Fireworks?” Pearl asked. “Are we having a party?”
George carried the sack outside without answering. Minutes later, Pearl heard a small explosion. Looking out, she saw George plant fireworks in a mole trail, light the fuse, and cover his ears. When his ammunition finally ran out, he surveyed the battlefield which was littered with trash and pitted with holes.
“Now,” he said confidently to Pearl, “let’s go buy us some tomato plants.”
In town, they tried every garden store, hardware store, market, and Wal-Mart they could find before determining that not a single, solitary tomato plant was left. They’d all been purchased and planted in somebody else’s garden.
“Well, George, it looks like you won the battle but the moles won the war,” Pearl said.
“It’s not over till it’s over,” George replied with a gleam in his eye. “Just wait till next year!”
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