My mother has been on a one woman conquest to rid our garden, nestled conveniently inside a nature reserve in the Danish countryside, of moles. Every time we pull up the drive, I see her eyes fiercely scanning the lawn for mole holes, left eye twitching slightly, sniffing out the critters with a honed and calibrated sense. The feud has been on going for the past few years and in that time we have watched as various devices, hacks and DIY repellents have entered our homes, lined our counters and occupied our lawn. This story is about what happened next. But first, let me tell you about where it all began.
First, there was garlic powder.
My mum dropped me off at the Turkish market with 100 kroner and an instruction to buy the biggest container of garlic powder they had. I come out with 1kg carton, totally oblivious to the fact that I was about to cohabit with it’s contents of it otherwise I might opted for economising. When we arrive home, she makes a b-line for the garden, unscrews the lid and gets rid of the cap with the dispensing holes in it, clearly won’t be needing that. She proceeds, with a heavy hand, to dispense what looks like decorative snow across the lawn, pouring it liberally into the mole holes and around the rim of each soil mound and it’s not long before our garden begins to look like a tiny snow-topped mountain range. It was only spring but I was already beginning to feel festive. The problem with this very non-toxic, extremely organic and as she would continuously remind us, non harmful technique, was that it rendered our garden totally unusable. As it rained, the artificial garlic dissolved and rotted into the lawn and the summer heat held the lingering stench thickly in the air around the house. Preparing to make the journey from the house to the driveway, I sharply inhale before lurching myself out the front door and across the lawn, only breathing again until I had left the garden safely in my peripherals. Turns out humans and moles share a similar distaste for garlic scented air. My mother realises quickly she would have to suspend her ideals of organic encouragement and opt for something more severe.
Upping the stakes.
After the DIY route rendered the garden more unusable than any mole hole ever did, my mother turns to a less olfactory terrorising technique. A small army of black stakes now protrude from the lawn at regular intervals, their solar panelled tops sticking out above the grass. As I cross the garden to get to the house, long pissed-off croaking sounds are mechanically emitted from each device asynchronously, call and response style.
(A few seconds later from the other side of the garden)
(A few seconds later from the other side of the garden)
And so it sounded everyday, 24/7. The mole holes barely stopped appearing in that time and a mere few days later my mother woefully announced she would be dismantling her small army of pissed-off cyborg frogs. They were giving her a headache. The problem, it was becoming apparent, was that mole repellents actually do a pretty good job of repelling most mammals, including humans. That was the moment everything changed. The game was really on now. What she do next, how far would she take it. There was no telling.
We arrive at the present day and the mole vendetta actually seems to have a simmered to a halt. The lawn has returned to uniformity, totally unblemished with any harrowing reminders that it might actually contain soil. Natural order and peace have been restored. Until one morning I notice a van pulling out the drive. When I ask what it is, I’m told with a chirpy tone it’s a mole gassing service. Totally unharmful, just gasses them out of their tunnels and into someone else’s lawn, and the best bit about it is that it works. Did you know the word paradise actually comes from the greek word for enclosed park, and finally, this is paradise. Contained, uncontaminated, controlled.
My mother is chirpy as she explains this to me, but I see a flicker of sadness across her eyes. Is it really over, these eyes sorrowfully ask. I enquire deeper. It this it, they beg. A part of me wonders, won’t you miss the chase. The thrill of the push and pull, waking up in the morning, heart racing hissing “not again” under your breath before marching into the garden but the culprit is gone, nothing but a pile of debris left behind, a perfect crime yet again. The cold morning air whips against your red hot cheeks and you look up at the sky and laugh a deep rumbling laugh into your belly, and then you whisper to yourself “not this time mole, not this time” before going back inside to slam your fingers against the Amazon search bar yet again, concocting an irresistible arsenal of mole control. Won’t you miss it, I ask. The delicate dance of hunter and the hunter, except some days it feels like it is a binary so contested that it’s hard to tell who is who anymore. Like ink weaving through water. There are days when you get a sense, they are here. You look around but the room is empty and you ask out loud, what do you want from me! But then you laugh because you know they’re just testing you. You can’t explain it logically, it’s more of a feeling, an intuition rattling in your core. Every time you try to explain this to your friends, they just look at each other with concern and say, maybe you should come golfing with us next week Mandy, how bout it? You smirk loudly at first and shake your head, hah, I should have known they wouldn’t get it, they wouldn’t get us, but then agree because you are suddenly possessed by a curiosity as to how they maintain their kilometres of pristine lawns. Some days you think these moles probably know you better than your own friends do anyway. You know each others likes, each others dislikes. You know each others morning routines, when you go to bed. As you slip through each others fingers over and over, you realise this dance has been laced with intimacy. They say love and hate are two sides of the same coin but maybe, you think now, it was never a coin at all, but a infinite loop, no start and no beginning. It all becomes so lucid all of a sudden. And yeah, maybe in a perverse and twisted way it is something like a friendship. But friends don’t exterminate friends, a rule you’ve enforced for a few years now, and it’s a hard line you are proud to say you would never cross. Unless you had to and secretly you have to admit that it’s not an option you would entirely rule out.
As I look into your eyes now, I see something has change. The flicker of sadness has come alive, something charged ripples instead in their place. If we were ink and water all along then aren’t we bound to become a solution eventually, you say. All this time! You’ve been so busy looking for a solution but the solution IS the solution. Hah! How could you have been so blind, you say without the slightest hint of irony. All this time you were so busy searching for paradise that you didn’t realise you were in fact creating a hell! Finally it’s become so clear to you. The days of looking for a solution are over, finally it was time to become a solution. And it was from this simmering cauldron of inter-special intimacy that Songs for Moles was born.
Chapter one to follow.