My sister’s first mistake
was to buy a house with her ex-husband.
Her second was to buy that house, with a pool.
We were raised on the coast—fished, swam and surfed.
So sand crabs and jellyfish, sea urchins and sharks
were just part of our growing up.
It’s not like we are squeamish.
When her husband left, she could barely afford the house,
so it fell into what we graciously called lyrical disrepair.
It got serious when her backyard became a zoo.
First, the pool turned green. Unfortunate algae bloom.
Without chemicals to turn it around.
She thought seriously about turning it into a lily pond
by throwing mud into the bottom and adding fish.
It was so green it was probably seen from space.
So she pondered putting a Japanese bridge across it,
to pretend that it was a pond, so she could ignore it.
The grass got long. Her mower conked out.
Then the frogs moved in. Dozens of loud ones.
So loud she couldn’t sleep. One Saturday, she went out
and gathered a dozen big bulls, thought about eating them,
but walked them to the park and released them into the creek.
Then she noticed the snakes.
One rattler, two garter snakes, and a coral snake.
She solved that problem by giving them the back yard.
Plenty of room to walk the dog in the front, she said,
instead of letting him get a snake bite out in back.
It was a good thing, because next she noticed an armadillo
was a regular guest, with several raccoons. They washed
their food in the shallow end of the pool/pond.
Two supervising owls visited each night, seeking rodents,
but happy with snakes instead.
One night a skunk came by and was startled by the dog.
The beginning of the end. Bedlam ensued. A large
can of tomato juice washed one very distressed retriever
who was sure the shower spray was another skunk.
Took us hours to clean the house.
Traps from the humane society yielded
one skunk, one armadillo and two possums. The city
took them all away. After advice on reptile control, they
suggested that the flies bothering her house would be gone
once the pool was under control again.
A week later providence stepped in.
Her old employer needed her back, at her old job
and her old pay. Suddenly she could afford pool chemicals,
a new lawn mower, and a yard man.
For the first time in five years, she feels respectable.
She doesn’t know or care where the animals have gone..
And, no, zookeeper and naturalist are not on her resume.