I was with a group of women recently — granted, a dangerous thing, but as of this writing, still legal and not yet met with punitive measures from the IRS — when the topic turned to the familiar.
You’re thinking I’m going to say men, aren’t you? You’re wrong. The topic was not men. Men think that the only thing women talk about is men, but that is not true. Women talk about an array of fascinating topics, and at this particular moment our topic was rodents — chipmunks in particular.
One of the women said she was trapping as many as five a day.
Another woman, an experienced gardener with a rural background, said, “If you are trapping five a day, you are being overrun by chipmunks.”
I always appreciate the voice in the crowd offering numerical perspective. I might have panicked at two or three chipmunks and started screaming that we have been overrun, but now I will wait until I see five.
“What are you using for traps?” someone asked.
The woman overrun with chipmunks said she was using live traps that secure the chipmunk in a small cage. The chipmunks then wait for relocation or a casting call from Disney.
Chipmunks, albeit adorable, are destructive critters. They burrow under foundations, retaining walls and patios, gnaw through vegetable gardens, eat the heads off flowers and can chew through air conditioning coils. They also have horrible singing voices, which is reason enough to be rid of them.
The woman using live traps said that her husband (so the topic did turn to men) drives the chipmunks three miles out of town, across the interstate, and turns them loose in a field. Apparently chipmunks have a pretty good built-in GPS and can find their way back under the three-mile mark.
Someone said she knew a family who lives near the field three miles out of town, across the interstate, and they are totally and completely overrun with chipmunks. There you have it; one man’s solution becomes another man’s problem.
I was still pondering why the man drove them to the other side of the interstate. Was he thinking the chipmunks would be confused by signage? Did he think that once the chipmunks headed west they would continue west and not even consider doubling back across the interstate, where they would be instantly, well, you know.
I offered that we once rid ourselves of a fiercely destructive chipmunk that was doing considerable damage by way of a rat trap. I instantly felt I might have disturbed the very kind and tenderhearted woman using live traps.
Then, the youngest woman in the group, a mother of several small children, a beautiful, soft-spoken woman that I would take to be, if possible, even kinder and gentler than the woman using live traps, said she knew how to get rid of chipmunks.
This will be good, I thought. She probably makes them little houses with little beds, domesticates them, teaches them to dust the furniture and get along with cats.
Instead, here’s what she said: “You fill a 5-gallon bucket half way with water, sprinkle sunflower seeds on top and perch a piece of wood like a ramp to the top of the bucket.”
It’s always the quiet ones who surprise you.
Lori Borgman is an Indianapolis columnist. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.