There were crucial issues to worry about during my absence. Did RJ remember to water? Did he purchase a steel trap or a .22? Was there a dead armadillo behind the woodpile—dead plants, beer cans—anything? Did the deer that jump up the tiered walls of the garden to the front porch—partaking in the plant buffet along the way—break in and slash the kitchen walls with their hooves like those in The Leftovers?
Worrying works for me. It’s like refusing to carry an umbrella on a partly cloudy day to dare the rain to fall, and refusing to carry an umbrella on a completely overcast day to ensure I get wet. When I arrived home a few beer cans were in the recycle bin and RJ and the Siamese were roaming about the couch. (Cats, not twins.)
RJ, Juju and Loki were happy to see me. Thai, our eight year-old Seal Point Siamese, looked guilty. “What did he do?” I said.
“He went overboard with a chipmunk. I have good news, though. There wasn’t a sign of armadillo damage in the garden while you were gone.”
“You’re messing with me,” I said, patting Thai’s head. “I can’t believe he actually caught a chipmunk.”
“He did. And I’m not kidding about the armadillo.”
“Of course,” I said, looking at Thai curled in RJ’s lap, thinking ‘hunter gathering.’ “I wonder what happened to the armadillo.”
“Maybe he moved on. Aren’t you happy? It’s your garden.” I noted a twinkle in R.J.’s eye but a bit of a shine on his forehead.
“It’s our garden.”
“It’s only ours,” RJ countered, “when you want me to work in it.”
“Okay, how about you join me in the garden to smell daisies and sunbathe then?”
The garden was lush and lovely for September. It rained three times during my absence—my worrying about RJ watering the garden worked, like not taking an umbrella when it looks like rain. The joy of seeing undisturbed plants and the New England Asters and chrysanthemums in bloom temporarily replaced the loss of my arch-a-dillo.
My grandson, Aiden and granddaughter, Lillian stayed with us for the weekend. Aiden and RJ were up to something in the garage Saturday afternoon that involved running back and forth to the house and profuse hammering.
Our friends and their six year-old daughter, Hannah joined us for a cookout. After dinner, Aiden worked on his mystery project an hour before I had to see what he was doing. I turned the knob to the garage door and pushed; it only opened halfway, enough for me to see a complicated system of rope, twine and wooden stakes that ran from the door, to a workbench and to the refrigerator. I forced the door open—a wooden sword flew off the workbench and landed at my feet.
Aiden jumped out from behind the door, yelling, “It worked!”
“Whoa,” I said, taking a step backwards. I looked at the blunt sword and exhaled. “That was awesome. Is this part of your pirate ship?”
Aiden laughed. “No, I made it. It’s a trap!” “See,” he said as he ran to the bench, dodging rope and twine, “when you forced the door open, it made the sword fall. When you step on the sword it tightens the rope to the fridge.” Aiden pushed the sword hard with his foot, demonstrating how the rope opened the refrigerator door (with great effort.) “Hopefully he’ll be strong enough to open the door. He’ll go in the fridge and die in there.”
“How will he close the door? Wait. Who’s going to die?”
Before Aiden could answer, the girls entered the garage, screeching in mock terror one minute and giggling the next as only little girls can do for two hours straight. They tugged and pulled on the ropes, moving closer to the refrigerator.
“No, Lilly!” Aiden yelled, jumping in front of the fridge. “Get out! The trap is not for you.”
Even though the refrigerator door was closed again, I nearly passed out from the trap-refrigerator-child combination. I handed the girls their bubble swords. “Refrigerators aren’t for playing, they’re only for storing food,” I said sternly.
Silence, all three kids staring at me. Lillian said, “Geez, Nana, we know that” before she and Hannah screamed merrily, merrily, merrily all the way to the front yard.
“Who’s the trap for Aiden?”
I smiled so hard my bottom lip cracked. “Why would he go in the fridge once he pulled the door open?”
“Because that’s where Pop-pop keeps the marmadillo’s worms.”
“Smart,” I said. “It’s armadillo, not marmadillo.”
“Ah,” Aiden replied, grinning at me. “A-arm-a-marmadillo.”
“No! Don’t ever arm a…”
“Nana,” Aiden interrupted. “Do you think I’ll catch him?”
“Absolutely, with a trap like yours, you’ll catch that Marmadillo.”