Mountain or Molehill?

Mole hills illustrate that living a sustainable lifestyle includes some pros and cons.

It’s easy to idealize the green life as a series of romantic images such as clean and lavender-scented linens floating on a clothesline as one sits sipping freshly squeezed organic lemonade, or maybe a pantry of perfectly organized mason jars filled with locally sourced dry goods. Maybe your green dream involves cycling to work on a gorgeous summer morning. It can be these things and much more. However, sometimes it involves identifying our trigger points and carefully weighing them against our sustainability goals. It can mean more work and it absolutely involves some sacrifice.

We have a family of very persistent moles in our yard. They get under my skin because when I look across my yard towards my garden or pond, they stick up out of the ground like a middle finger. They leave pock marks and interfere with mowing, as well as encouraging the dogs to dig. We’ve tried various natural methods, such as sticking Juicy Fruit Gum in their holes (the dogs dug it up and pooped it out), flooding them out with water (just caused them to refresh their tunnel network and pop up more holes), and The Trap. The Trap is really just a larger type of mouse trap, and over three years, we’ve managed to trap and kill just 2-3 moles per summer — enough to make it feel like a maddening game of Whack-A-Mole in which the moles always win and we get no tickets for our spent tokens.

The presence of moles is actually a good thing. It means that we haven’t spread pesticides and herbicides on our yard and killed all of the insects they like to eat. They help control grubs that turn into damaging beetles, and till and aerate our yard. Even with this knowledge, these mole hills stand up like defiant mountains when I survey my yard. Each time, I remind myself of their value, and eventually I may even make peace with them.

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