It continued every week. I would buy flowers, plant them, then check the next day only to find that one or two had been upended. Since there were small chipmunk holes not too far away, I knew who the culprit was.
I have to say that I have never been closely acquainted with a chipmunk. Until I moved into this house, probably the nearest I got was watching Alvin and the gang in the cartoons when I was a kid. The first time I spotted a chipmunk in our yard, I marveled at the beauty of its coat. Now I despair over the holes he digs all over the property - in the asparagus bed, among the lettuce, and, of course, in the flowers.
The last time I bought flowers, I watched them even more carefully. This time, he chose only one, a sweet-smelling white alyssum that I planted outside of my office window. He dug it up. I replanted it. He dug it up again, I replanted it again. Then we went another round. The fourth time it happened, I pulled hair from my brush to put around it, hoping my smell would scare him away. I also watched for him so we could have a talk.
I do realize that it's possible he doesn't understand me, just thinks I'm some crazy human who thinks she can take over his yard. But my husband can communicate with cows, so I hold onto the possibility that, perhaps I can negotiate with Chippy. Yes, I have him a name.
Chippy usually runs away from me, but this time he sat and listened. Before I finished, he ran around the corner of the house. I followed. He had stopped there as if he knew he should give me at least a little bit more of his time. I asked him to please not dig up any more of my flowers.
The alyssum stayed.
I'm going to the greenhouse again today and perhaps it is a good omen that I've had the opportunity to talk with Chippy twice more. I asked him again, very nicely, not to dig up anymore flowers. Later I surprised him in the front yard. He scampered up a tree, then sat on a limb where I could see him, just waiting. This time I decided to take the conversation one step further, asking him to take responsibility for seeing that no other creatures dug up flowers either. At least he didn't scamper off before I finished my request.
So I'll make my trip to the greenhouse. I'll plant my flowers and check them a few hours later to see if any of them have been disturbed. If they have, I might have to call in Alvin for some advice.
Beth Dotson Brown lives in Lancaster.