Courage at Twilight: Booby-Trapped


In the three weeks since Steven and I planted the four emerald green arborvitae, I have watched them disintegrate before my eyes, each day more pieces of green leaf littering the ground. I emailed the nursery pleading for help to keep them alive—we had worked too hard and brotherly to let them die—and the nursery’s diagnostician replied that the trees looked alive but badly eaten, and he wondered if we had deer in the neighborhood.  Boy do we, I fumed to myself for the thousandth time.  Mule deer roam the neighborhood by the dozen, nipping at tulip sprouts and lily petals and other flowers and shrubs and garden produce, transforming from wild novelty to neighborhood bane—but I had not thought they would eat evergreens full of resins.  I drove to Lowes immediately and purchased two deer repellent products, the first a powder of dried blood (the package did not say whose) that would trigger the instinctual flight response in deer (so the package promised), and the second a liquid concoction of putrescent egg solids graced with garlic.  Eager for the trees to begin their recovery, I sprayed them liberally with putrescence, and discovered instantly why deer and rabbits—indeed any sane creature—would stay away.  Then I spent an hour manicuring the tree moats and surrounding grounds, skunked and gagging the while.  I would have done well to reverse the order of things.  But by the time I had finished, the revolting stench had become strangely comforting: if it worked, our trees would recover and fill out, emerald green and evergreen fragrant (except for the days of repeated treatments).  After my report to Dad, he explained how he has had increasing trouble rising from his shower chair after bathing.  He thought he must be getting fatter because the arms of the chair hugged his hips tighter and tighter.  Today he could not free himself of the chair, but stood with the chair clinging to his backside like in The Bishop’s Wife.  Surely, he thought, he could not have gained that much weight in just a few days.  He asked Elie to take a look at the chair.  After turning the chair over, Elie announced that the chair’s metal supports had cracked, allowing the chair to bend and the arms to squeeze, and that if Mom and Dad kept using the chair it would soon snap in half and collapse beneath them.  Sarah lost no time sending over a newer, stronger chair, a pleasant blue color.  I have contemplated many times, in fact constantly, the value of the help and service my siblings have gifted to our parents, and how the gifts are in turn mine, lessening the weight of burdens, making room for a break, unstringing the bow.  And I am grateful.  After dinner Dad declared, “Roger, it is so nice of you to get home late from work and make us a dinner of roasted vegetables.”  The sweet potato and butternut squash wedges, roasted in olive oil and salt, had indeed been delicious.  But the odor of putrescent garlicky eggs remains arrogantly in my nostrils.

6 thoughts on “Courage at Twilight: Booby-Trapped

    1. Roger Baker-Utah Post author

      I’m pretty sure bear would be worse than deer, if only marginally? No experience. Just guessing. Good luck with your vegetable patch. Mine is called Smith’s, though I like gardening and hope to garden again someday. Nothing beats fresh veggies, steamed or roasted, and sometimes raw.



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