Happy 2021, and properly deal with your own waste and pests

By Jim Redwine

How was that for a New Year’s Eve? Just about anybody who chose to could attend a masked ball in 2020-21 where many of the loud, inebriated strangers eschewed the masks. One could still engage in, or be subjected to, rude behavior and wake up at noon thinking “Oh, no!” ’Ole 19 may have changed our social interactions, but human nature does not metamorphosize so quickly; we are still capable of making poor decisions to which we have given hardly a thought. After all, if we have no regrets have we really lived?

With memories of such moments in mind, Peg and I spent New Year’s Eve in front of the fireplace, just we two and a bottle of medium-priced red wine. We gratefully rang out 2020 and truly welcomed 2021 as we reprised some of what the Lone Ranger might refer to as “Those thrilling days of yesteryear!”

In December 1999 -- January 2000 we decided to ring in the new millennium with a ski trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. We skied all day on Dec. 31 then partied at a live music gala to usher in 2000. There were no masks and no temperature checks; where did that world go? Regardless, Peg and I replayed that New Year’s Eve from 20 years ago as this past Saturday we sat in large rockers before the fire and compared 2000 to 2020.

Instead of skiing during the day on New Year’s Eve, this year we attended a physical therapy session to help us deal with the aches and pains brought on by the broken bones we each incurred on ski trips after 2000. Then, instead of dancing and drinking as in days of old we returned to our cabin and found a skunk in the live trap I had set.

The skunk was not in a festive or forgiving mood. No live music was in the offing. Surely Peg and I have not changed that much in a mere 20 years, but I confess I felt no call to celebrate Auld Lang Syne after enduring body manipulation and skunk odorification. Things called out to be dealt with.

There was a time I enjoyed hunting, but then I lost interest in it. Somehow getting up at o-dark-thirty and immersing my body in the vicissitudes of weather for the possibility I might shoot some creature that I would then need to eviscerate and skin before cooking lost out to packaged, store-bought meats. Therefore, for several years about the only wild animal I have communed with has been the occasional hapless house mouse. Then Peg and I bought this cabin in the woods. It came fully furnished with an abundance of spiders and scorpions inside and a plethora of raccoons, armadillos, opossums and skunks outside. My hunting years are now being revisited.

In the two years we have lived in our cabin we have seen our yard extensively cultivated by digging animals and fertilized by scads of their scat. And with the skunks there has often been an accompanying aroma. It may say more about my character than it does about our furry frequenters, but I keep watching Bill Murray’s slide into groundhog insanity while I cheer for Murray to take the nuclear option in "Caddyshack". At least Murray only had to deal with one invasive specie on that golf course. My war with Mother Nature has been fought on several fronts.

The casualty count so far has been eight raccoons, 10 opossums, six armadillos and nine skunks. The most recent skunk was the one that joined us on New Year’s Eve. I found it in one of my “humane” live traps near the foundation to the cabin. The skunk was at least as upset as I was; he exuded his displeasure in the manner you might expect.

Now I know some people trap such critters, drive out to the countryside and then release them with a self-righteous feeling of humanitarianism. Of course, then the pests become a problem for innocent other residents. I uncharitably expect such misguided miscreants are the same type of people who throw their trash out on the public right-of-ways without a thought of who must endure their boorish behavior and put up with their scat.

How about just putting the refuse in a trash bin and not imposing their nuisances on others? The only satisfaction I find as Peg and I pick up the trash along our county road is that most of the trash I see is beer and soft drink cans and empty fried-food containers. I content myself with the thought that the slobs who defile our environment may end up with health problems and indigestion. As for their release of varmints instead of properly disposing of them, I can only hope some other thoughtless soul is doing the same thing to them.

In that regard, I suggest two New Year’s resolutions for general consideration: (1) properly dispose of trash, and (2) do not impose pests on others. And, by the way, Happy New Year! Let’s hear it for the passing of 2020, which was pretty well filled with plenty of scat of its own.