Saturday, October 4, 2014

Muddy Dogs & Arks

Paradise is wilting. For long months I sang praises of the beauty and the beasts of a green homestead ideally situated along a country road. Three or four weeks ago the rains came and the beauty (though not the beasts) began to sink beneath a daily onslaught of monsoon-like weather. Everything outdoors has become a swampy bog of rain battered grass and mud stirred up by swimming armadillos. The drainage canal running under the drive outside my gate is rising to the top of its banks while great ponds of water the breadth of swimming pools stand in three or four places around the yard. During the brief times between rain, trees shiver in a wind shaking off cascades of water that drench me still and deepen the squishiness beneath my shoes. Yesterday my nearest neighbor and I were joking about building an ark to save us and our dogs, but not the mosquitos and armadillos, nor the water moccasins looking for high ground. Closer to Indian River Lagoon, Manny’s yard is more flooded than my own and to step outside his house he needs rubber boots and a snake bite kit.

My yard is less threatening. Apart from the swarms of mosquitos that fasten on to me and Farina dog and hitch a ride into the house, my concern these days is keeping Farina out of the pools of standing water. Like a six year-old child who thrills to a romp in the summertime splash pool, Farina loves nothing more than to zoom in high speed circles through one pool and on to the next, finally plopping herself down to pant and drink the muddy water. Naturally she comes back to the house soaking wet, covered in mud and with a big grin on her face. She would love to run and jump on the bed to wallow herself clean but instead gets confined to the back porch until I can wipe her down. Given total freedom she would do this until I ran out of towels, happy that the next time she could stay dirty. That Farina is a caution. For the time being she’s making do with leash only outings, not allowed near her pleasure pools.

What do you do with grass that grows super fast under a pall of rain? Anybody will tell you not to try and mow a wet lawn, especially if you’re riding a 300 pound lawnmower on less than dry ground. For the past two weeks I’ve been sitting on my back porch watching the grass get taller and taller as it gets wetter and wetter. A large area reaching out from the porch about 100 feet is slightly higher than the surrounding area and last Thursday we had a miraculous clearing of skies that brought warm sunshine for three quarters of the day, me watching and testing that high ground for dryness every hour. Around 4 o’clock I decided the ground and grass were dry enough to run the mower and cut down the burgeoning grass with all its hiding places for snakes.

Red Ants Flourishing in the Rain

I probably have the worst reputation anywhere for luck with lawnmowers and have encountered every mechanical dysfunction there is at one time or another. It would help if I knew the fuel line from the brake pedal but since I don’t repairs have been costly. I finally broke down and bought a “new” machine but on occasion have managed to stall that one too. Appears to be no limit to my jinx. So, out in the exhilarating sunshine motoring through the tall grass, I had almost finished cutting the area of high ground when I either turned too quickly or too suddenly and heard an ominous SNAP! And in that second I lost my steering. No need to dither or sit there scratching my chin. Obviously I was once more thrown into the hands of a repairman.

I’m beginning to think there must be something anti-mechanical in my blood. About a month ago in the space of seven days and with no particular stress, first my vacuum cleaner broke and a day later the rice cooker; that was followed two days later by the death of my printer and on Saturday the passing of my DVD player. I mean, hell, what’s going on with a string of tragedies like that? As I said to a friend later, “I’m wearing a helmet around the house these days because I expect the roof to fall down on me any day.”

Yes, I still love life in the country on my muddy dirt road just west of Indian River, but it does have its challenges. But most of all I would never take my dog away from the heaven she’s found out here.


  1. That is one content dog! I wonder if your mechanical problems - at least the electrical ones - have something to do with the high sun spot activity?

  2. Farina looks very clean and composed in the face of all this disaster. Lucky for her she doesn't have to worry about the mechanical things. This morning I dusted my modem and computer, and a red light came on and the Internet was off all day. Around midnight it magically came back on. Now what did I do before there were computers? Oh yeah, read books. I should get back to that.
    If the rain continues, your yard might be impenetrable, like Joseph Conrad's forests.
    Here's to the end of this unlucky streak!


About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America