Chipped Off


The first time I noticed the holes, I couldn't figure out what they were or where they were coming from. There were dozens of them, about two inches across, scattered throughout my flower beds. It looked like someone had been jumping through my garden with a pogo stick.

"Honey, someone has been jumping through our garden with a pogo stick," I complained to my husband.

"Yeah, I heard that there was a rash of pogo-stick jumping delinquents in the neighborhood," he replied.

"Seriously," I said, dragging him outside to see the mystery holes. "See? Pogo sticks."

"No... rodents!" he said. "And I'm pretty sure they don't ride on any pogo sticks, either."

"Rodents? What, like mice or r-r-r-ats?" I stuttered.


"Nah, it doesn't look like a rat hole," said my husband, who apparently had become a rodent expert in the 10 minutes since we had begun discussing the holes. He peered at one of the holes beside an upended begonia. "I think, maybe, chipmunks."

"Chipmunks?!" I cried. I have to admit I found this news very disturbing. I'd always thought that chipmunks were kind of cute. They were like the more adorable, younger cousins of mean, nasty squirrels who robbed the birdhouse feeders, decimated my Halloween pumpkins and made nests in our attic when I was growing up. As far as I could tell, chipmunks were harmless little guys who frolicked playfully in the yard and occasionally formed high-pitched singing groups led by a guy named Alvin.

Then I became a homeowner. A homeowner who spent a lot of money on nice plants and flowers for her gardens. Suddenly, I realized that chipmunks are not the cute little guys they pretend to be.

In some circles, chipmunks are known as ground squirrels, although to be more accurate, they should be called underground squirrels, because it seems that is where they prefer to spend more of their time -- under the ground -- or to be more accurate, in holes that they dig right at the base of my expensive plants and flowers.


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