This Best of Bogue column originally was published Nov. 1, 2006.
Dear Gary: A reader wrote about finding trinkets, toys and miscellaneous items atop a mole mound.
Some years ago at our family vineyard in Oakville a similar thing happened. The vineyard has been there for 100 years and surrounds the main house and large lawn area. Critter mounds in the fields are common, but in this event, one particularly active guy had been disturbing the green grass right near the patio and was undaunted by efforts to deter him.
One Sunday afternoon during a family outing, my brother Jim noted a faint glint in the sun atop one of the fresh mounds. On examination, it was a fairly large and ornate gold elephant charm that our little friend had brought to the surface. It turned out to be solid gold and very old.
Who knows its history and who might have lost it sometime in the last century. Our underground friends certainly are collectors, and this one with very good taste.
We all felt he must have waited for that special Sunday afternoon gathering to show us his wares. We never tried to stop his digging in hopes of what else he might try to bring us.
DEAR DEAN: Solid-gold charms should definitely help stimulate new backyard friendships with moles and maybe even gophers. To think
I'm thinking about adding a little mole Jacuzzi next to the bird bath.
DEAR GARY: Went out to pick the largest of the Japanese kabocha squash today and -- surprise. Someone beat me to it from underneath. A gopher? From the size of the hole it looks like this culprit got fat on my squash. Maybe I should make it a jack-o'-lantern now that it's hollowed out! Happy Halloween.
DEAR GAYLE: The photo you emailed me shows the squash tipped over on its side with a hole in the ground underneath it. The squash has been hollowed -- eaten -- out from the bottom.
Sounds like a gopher, or maybe a mole, was making it's own jack-o'-lantern. They're very creative, you know.
It gets boring running around those dark tunnels 24 hours a day.
Cats in mourning
For the last several years I've had a large patch of catnip growing in a corner of a garden box in my backyard. This turned out to be a perfect way of dealing with the steady stream of neighborhood cats that used to hop over the fence and make big piles of you-know-what in my garden.
Since the coming of the catnip, the cats would wander over to the catnip and take big sniffs of the intoxicating vapors, which made them forget why they came over to my yard in the first place. They would then stagger back home just in time to poop in their own backyards.
Last week we started remodeling our backyard to get rid of the lawn and build more garden boxes. This involves stripping the whole yard and right now my backyard looks like a desert wasteland.
When I looked out the back window this morning I saw a little circle of five cats sitting where the catnip plants used to grow. Their heads were bowed in apparent mourning.
I think I better get a new catnip patch planted as soon as possible before I completely disrupt the feline power structure in my neighborhood.
Gary Bogue has retired after 42 years of writing this column. If you have animal-related questions, contact Joan Morris at email@example.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.