There’s a mysterious track by the Sweet Flag. It’s eight feet long, two inches wide and a half-inch deep. It looks as if a one-legged chair was dragged across the soil. I didn’t ask the man who tried to catch an armadillo with pink, yellow and green marshmallows why he’d drag a broken chair through the garden. There’s no need to irritate RJ with Christmas around the corner.
I called my Master Gardener guru friend to discuss the new track. She promptly dispatched the chair-dragging theory. “It could be a snake track although most indigenous snakes are hibernating now. Are the sides of the track smooth? Does it curve?”
I put my cell on speaker and crawled beside the track. “Some snake,” I shouted towards the phone, “the track widens to six inches by the dianthus and it’s not smooth; it’s messy. There’s mulch scattered everywhere. Mowgli had a snack.”
“It’s not a snake,” Kathryn said.
I shuddered “It’s not a snake?”
“Do you see any tracks?”
“I just told you about the track,” I said.
“No,” Kathryn replied patiently. “I mean tracks as in an arma…”
“Just don’t,” I said as four smudges in the dirt coalesced into the easily identifiable prints. “That damn ‘dillo’s supposed to dead. Or hopefully hibernating with venomous snakes.”
“I doubt it’s the same armadillo,” Kathryn replied.
I knew it was the same beady-eyed garden destroyer; the year round bane of my outdoor existence. He was nicknamed DD for two reasons: he was a damn ‘dillo and he was a dumb ‘dillo. “The worms and grubs are hibernating, Kathryn. Our armadillo’s the only ‘dillo dumb enough to be hunting worms and grubs in December.”
My friend murmured something about a lack of scientific reasoning when it came to armadillos before she hung up.
Later in the afternoon RJ discovered uprooted Sedum ‘Blue Spruce’ by the Vinca minor. I watched him follow the trail, picturing him tipping back a one-legged chair. RJ said, “I might have better luck trapping him now when food’s scarce.”
“Good idea,” I said, turning my head to the right, fervently hoping today’s Nor’easter would turn into an unprecedented Missouri Midwesterner.
“I’m not going to kill him if that’s what you’re worried about,” RJ said.
“I’m worried about how many times you think you’ve killed the armadillo and the trap’s busted. Would you like a new one for Christmas?”
“Sure, as long there’s a new iMac Retina Display inside.”
I watched two Chickadees and a Titmouse fly back and forth from the bird-feeder on the front porch to the closest hickory tree, noting my neighbor’s gorgeous outdoor Christmas decor and a fake pumpkin hiding behind a viburnum in my garden. I was picking up the pumpkin, which I’d overlooked during my fall/Thanksgiving cleanup two weeks ago when RJ said, “Remember the duck recipe Grandpa Boyle told your dad about?”
“Yes, but what does a duck recipe have to do with armadillos?”
“Your dad said the recipe could be used for armadillos.”
“Dad was joking, RJ.”
“Just listen—your dad said your grandfather’s discourse on the duck recipe took twenty minutes because of the way Grandpa Boyle meandered. Your dad lost focus and wasn’t really paying attention…”
I laughed and said, “until the end of the recipe. Grandpa Boyle took his time, telling Dad to put the duck on a board and season it with ¼ t. of salt, pepper and paprika, and oh, not to forget a ½ t. of thyme, lemon peel, rosemary, sea salt, oregano, basil, celery seed and a ½ cup of bacon bits and onion flakes. Grandpa said to bake and rotate the body every five minutes, sometimes cooking it at 250 degrees and sometimes at 350 degrees. To keep baking the duck until very well done, even charred around the edges. At that point you throw away the duck and eat the board. Nobody in my family could cook duck properly.”
“I think that would be a fitting end for the armadillo. Don’t you?” RJ asked.
Even if RJ trapped the DD, I wasn’t serious about actually turning him to toast. Besides, he’d probably survive being broiled. “Tell you what, RJ. When you capture the armadillo, I’ll be in charge of cooking.”
RJ nodded. “That’s a great idea because nobody will be surprised when the recipe is ruined.”