November 3, 2013

KNISELY: Mother is a bad influence


---- — As the months have passed since I made the transition from apartment dweller to house dweller, I’ve made no secret about my growing disdain for yard work. By that, I mean I have complained profusely about it.

But as autumn has been settling in, I have noticed something unsettling about the type of yard work I am having to do lately. I have noticed a distinct shift in work caused by my own volition and work caused by my neighbors.

During the summer months, I had to weed my garden and mow my grass. The operative word in those sentences is “my.” If it is work I have caused myself, such as planting the garden in the first place, I will gladly do it. OK, gladly is probably too strong a word.

But now, as the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, I’m raking leaves that fell from my neighbor’s tree to the west and picking up walnuts that fell from a neighbor’s tree to the east. I am paying in both directions for the poor plant choices made by others. I find this to be unfair and just plain unneighborly.

For reasons I can’t fathom, my mother decided she wanted the walnuts that were trespassing on my lawn. “The squirrels will love them,” she said.

For even more reasons I can’t fathom, I don’t have squirrels. I have a gazillion walnuts and no squirrels. My mother has zero walnuts and a gazillion squirrels. I argued that instead of me picking up the walnuts and her hauling them home, she should load up her squirrels and bring them to my house. I thought this was a brilliant plan. She did not.

So, since she wasn’t willing to take one for the team and become a professional squirrel wrangler, I set out to gather the walnuts. After about an hour of crawling on my hands and knees, filling bucket after bucket of walnuts, mom shows up to claim the fruits of my labor.

Mom, entirely too happy for the occasion: I’m here for the walnuts!

Me, looking up at her from the ground: Why on Earth you want to introduce the evil that is this tree into your yard is beyond me.

Mom: The squirrels will love them.

Me: If the squirrels need you to feed them, they should be weeded out by evolution. Survival of the fittest, Mom.

Mom: Well, aren’t we in a good mood?

Me: There’s dirt under my nails, my clothes reek of walnut stench and my knees hurt from crawling all over the back yard. I feel I have earned the right to be less than pleasant.

Mom: The squirrels will appreciate it.

Me: Your squirrels’ happiness means nothing to me. In fact, I think I’d rather they be sad. Yeah, I like the idea of your depressed squirrels moping through your yard. I hope they’ll be too depressed to eat these walnuts!

Mom ignored my huffiness and we went about loading the boxes of gathered walnuts into the back of her Jeep. We filled the back completely and there were still loads of walnuts in the yard. I decided I was going to fill up five more 5-gallon buckets, toss them into the compost pile and be done with it for the day.

As we were tossing walnuts into the bucket, mom suggested it would be easier to just return them to where they came from. When I asked her what she meant, she tossed a walnut under the fence into the yard where the walnut tree lived and then proclaimed, “Ta da!”

“Yep,” she said cheerfully, “That was way easier.”

I told her it doesn’t work that way and went back to loading the bucket. She continued to toss them under the fence.

I will neither confirm nor deny if I joined her in this type of behavior.

All I’m going to say is she started it.

Misty Knisely is managing editor of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5155 or at