Of Rats and Other Nighttime Troubles
August 12, 2009
We planted a vegetable garden for the first time this year, and it has been a lovely experience. Our tiny suburban yard contains the small, rectangular, chicken-wire enclosed garden quite nicely. Our tomato plants have been especially healthy and productive with beautiful red ripe tomatoes hanging heavily on each vine.
Recently I noticed, as I picked the warm, ripe fruit, that several of tomatoes had gaping holes in them. Not the type a worm or caterpillar would make, but huge, half-the-tomato-was-consumed kind of holes. So my antennae were up to try to figure out what has been happening.
And what has been happening is – a rat. A thief in the night. A rodent who slinks into our yard in the darkness, scales the vines that droop over the fence, and feasts nightly on my tomatoes.
Now, if I were the kind of person who easily falls into a deep slumber each night, it would be one thing. But I’m a bit of a nighttime fretter. My husband might say more like “nighttime crazy woman.” I’ve always been more of a night owl, and in the darkness, my senses get sharpened and I’m more on the alert. And the window by our bed, opened wide to capture the eastern sea breeze (because we have no air conditioning), directly overlooks the garden. So, my ears are tuned to the possibility of rustling leaves and thievery.
I’ve become a little O.C.D. about this.
The catchy little jazz riff from Ratatouille has been running through my mind as I lay there in bed, imagining a little rat stealthily creeping along in the shadows. Absurdly, the passage in Matthew has come to mind as I try to put things into perspective. “Therefore, do not lay up for yourselves treasures (even tomatoes) on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves (even rat-thieves) break in and steal…” But to no avail. I have clearly become a control freak about this.
Now, it’s not to say that it’s a terrible thing to be annoyed with this situation. And I think it’s perfectly reasonable to try to do something about it. (I’m thinking traps here.) But the consuming nature of the frustration, yea, even anger that this has aroused in me is out of proportion to the crime.
I’ve even had to sleep on the couch the last couple of nights. It’s gotten out of hand.
I’ve started coming to grips today with the reality that once again, I am the problem. And it is a control problem. Today I’ve been acknowledging and owning the fact that
1. I want to control people.
2. I want to control circumstances.
3. And it just bugs me to death that I. Am. Not. God.
(I heard that “control freak’s mantra” on a recording of a seminar about emotional growth.)
It’s all about embracing my littleness, my inability to really control much in my world, my grieving the loss of that illusion of control while doing the things necessary to be responsible and proactive with things like rats in the garden. Sigh. Maybe if I finally learned this lesson of humility God wouldn’t have to keep knocking me over the head with it.