Recently one rainy Sunday morning I stepped outside my door to sink ankle-deep in mud: I had stepped heel-first into a mole tunnel. I pulled my foot out with a definitive “schlock!” and looked about the yard, which was a labyrinth of little ridges crisscrossing one another for a couple of dozen square meters. A mole had joined us at Windy Hill. C and I picked our way up the path to the car, but kept stepping into these little booby-traps along the way. We joked about falling in one and disappearing completely, like Alice in Wonderland.
When we finally made it to the car, we looked back at the tunnels we had crushed. I felt a bit sorry for the little fellow who had worked so hard to make a home. After all, there was nothing malicious about Mr. Mole in “Wind in the Willow”. An industrious little fellow, Mr. Mole spent quite a bit of time doing his spring cleaning, making his home as cozy and presentable as possible. He was a good friend to Ratty, Toad, and Mr. Badger, and undeserving of some bumbling flat-foot like me crushing his home, so why would his fellow mole here at Windy Hill deserve such shabby treatment?
I can imagine my visiting mole getting up from the table to go to the pantry for the salt, only to discover that his pantry has been smashed flat. He would probably say something like Mr. Mole would say, such as “Bother!” or “Oh, blow!” or “Hang it all!” then go about repairing the damage. “So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged, and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, ‘Up we go! Up we go!’ till at last, pop!, his snout came out into the sunlight and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.”
So, what to do about our Mr. Mole? Well, out here at Windy Hill, nothing. Mr. Mole is not attacking anyone; he is just expanding his home; no need to hurt the poor fellow. After all, we too hope to expand our home and replace the front porch this spring. Guests like Mr. Mole are all part of life our here – we have coyotes, buzzards, raccoons, skunks, hawks, rabbits, owls, snakes, deer, cattle, geese, bats, mice, voles, frogs, foxes, spiders, lizards, fish, dogs, bobcats, chickens, even an occasional black bear. They are neighbors and guests, visiting as often as any of our two-legged friends. Perhaps we should simple invite Mr. Mole in for tea or a pint – his choice.
The doughty fellow does present one problem however, which is the hazard of his tunnels. At our age, the only joint C and I are likely to roll is an ankle, and we are as likely to break an ankle by stepping into a mole tunnel as we are to sprain an ankle. Neither of us relishes the idea of weeks on crutches or months of recovery. I hope Mr. Mole moves on to another acre here at Windy Hill soon, but please God do not let it be the vegetable garden!