Saturday, August 13, 2011

THE CREATURES FROM THE CREEK: HOSTILE TAKEOVER ON THE HIGH SEAS (OF OUR POOL)

So my old friend from college naively writes to ask, "How is it going in hot, sunny Italy?"

I think he was expecting me to say that everything was going great. But that would be a lie. This was my more-than-you-want-to know answer:

All hell has been breaking loose here, which always seems to happen when our architect friends on whom we depend to keep us out of deep doodoo go away for vacation. To start, our pool has been the victim of a hostile takeover by wild animals called "nutria" who consider it their private Club Med and communal latrine, pooping all over our parade. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Once I get my sense of humor back, it might make a funny story, but to have so many things and systems go wrong at once is quite a challenge: "error" messages on the hot water heater, a short circuit in the new outdoor lights (useful to watch the animals cavorting in the pool), suddenly no water coming into any indoor or outdoor faucet, the fridge frosting over, etc. What next? 

It all started with a mysterious blockage in the drip irrigation system that waters the many beautiful plants along our entryway. At first I didn't notice it as I was faithfully carrying buckets of water daily to the two new rose bushes outside our gate. I should have looked up more. In this heat, a few days like that can be deadly even to drought-tolerant plants like lavender, jasmine, and sage. Fortunately the problem was noticed in time. The culprit? Our sophisticated automatic system was brought down by a snail that wandered into the wrong place! 

And now we are being brought to our knees by some large, hairy, aquatic creatures with gigantic orange teeth and long tails. Are we smarter than a pack of baby nutria? Apparently not! But Farmer G is on the case, so J has hopes of not spending several hours a day of his vacation on Poop Patrol. These guys really know how to leave their mark. It is hard to believe less than an army of them could leave that amount of caca everywhere. 

As it turns out, these highly destructive critters do worse things than poop in people's pools. After they were no longer raised to provide mink stoles for fancy ladies, they were let loose to eat everything in their path. But by some perverse logic, they are a protected species here. Go figure!

To be continued...

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