When we began the process of looking for a home in which to invest, the naysayers came out of the woodwork. And, when I say naysayers, it was actually more like family and friends who thought it would be important to point out each and every thing that could go wrong once the ink dried on our contract.
While it was incredibly annoying, I didn’t mind because buying a house is a very serious decision. But, much like April’s and my marriage, we moved pretty quickly once we found the house of our dreams.
Since the purchase, nothing incredibly serious has gone wrong – knock on wood (He says as he knocks on the 100-year-old wooden floor and then watches in astonishment as the wood cracks and begins giving way to reveal the wood is being eaten by termites all the way to the walls. which are coincidentally rotting away. Just joking).
My first real encounter with the house being mine (besides hanging frames on giant nails I banged through the walls while having no remorse about having to forfeit my deposit) was when I couldn’t locate the distinct smell of something dead or dying in the near vicinity of my property.
The smell showed up a few days before my father-in-law came for his first visit and a week before the staff of my magazine came over for a backyard photo-shoot/cookout. And, it wasn’t a small smell.
I searched the yard high and low with my nose doing most of the work. Dixie thought I was mocking him. After determining the smell was not under the house or in the yard, I put on my boots, grabbed a hoe (I don’t have a machete) and began making my way through the surprisingly thick woods surrounding our house. The weather was hot and sticky (so make sure you calculate that into how sucky you’re imagining this adventure to be).
It wasn’t coming from the creek.
It seemed as if it was coming from a thorn thicket but once I made my way into the middle of the thicket it became obvious that was not the source of the smell. The smell was, however, getting stronger the deeper I trekked into the woods.
A large number of meat trays yet to be faded by the weather made me wonder if a family of scavenging animals or very small homeless people were actively living in the dried up creek behind my house.
I crossed the creek bed into what I could only assume (I haven’t yet checked the chancery clerk’s office) is someone else’s or possibly (hopefully) the city’s property. When I called, the animal control officer made it clear to me that the property did not belong to the city.
And then there it was, the buzz of flies, the hot stench of maggoty meat, and the unmistakable feeling that fur shed by a dead animal is being wafted through the air onto my skin. There was a dead animal close by and I was going to find it.
Ten feet from me, halfway between my house and the Subway (restaurant, Verona doesn’t have an underground metro train) lays a medium dead dog/huge dead fox/terrifying dead cougar.
I retreated back to my home to plan/call the mayor/wash my clothes and body.
It was a Sunday so city hall was closed–but I cover Verona for the newspaper so I had Mayor Trice’s cell phone number. He passed me along to the animal control guy who said he could come by on Monday.
Monday, when I pointed into the woods, the animal control guy informed me the city only paid him to do removals off public property and near the roadways. He advised me to bury the medium dead dog/huge dead fox/terrifying dead cougar.
I put on some boots. I put on a bandana (I think it was a pink bandana with paw-prints that I vaguely remember buying at Walmart on the way to Cornerstone Music Festival before I ever owned a dog) and some gloves.
I put kerosene, a lighter, a roll of paper towels and a can of powdered bleach into a tote bag (a free GQ tote bag that came with my year-subscription which I am currently letting expire without renewing because the reading wasn’t as compelling as I thought it would be).
Next, I filled a five-gallon bucket with water. My plan was to bury the carcass, but in the event the tree roots made that difficult I would burn it —the Subway patrons would just have to order their delicious foot-long meatball subs with parmesan cheese and extra spinach to go.
Shovel in hand, I disappeared into the woods, careful not to spill my water because this fire was going to be epic.
Upon arrival, and faced with the reality of attempting a controlled burn in the drying woods on what I could only assume (I haven’t checked the chancery clerk’s office) is someone else’s property, I decided to bury the animal.
I also realized at that moment the animal was not a medium dead dog/huge dead fox/terrifying dead cougar, but a small dead doe (a deer, a female deer, that died behind my house sometime last month). The hooves were a dead (haha get it?) giveaway.
The doe died on top of some tree roots so digging a grave was out of the question. Instead I covered it with an entire can of Borax and then dug around the tree roots to gather enough dirt to cover the doe with about a foot of dirt.
Just because it’s not on your property doesn’t mean it’s not your problem.
Always eat before undertaking a physically exhausting adventure on a hot day. Especially if you mowed the yard before and are wearing lots of layers to prevent death from getting you.
Questions to ponder:
What is that smell?
Where is my property line?
Is a family of tiny and possibly invisible homeless people living in the ditch being my house?
What is this month’s Subway $5 footlong?