The Papa Files
by VINCENT CARDEGIN
Award Winning Columnist
Because of recent rain, I wasn’t able to mow for nine days. Oh, I could have gone out early, but I’m still sipping coffee at eleven every morning and just deciding what to eat for my late breakfast. When finally I went out back on a rainless afternoon (the only time I go in the backyard is when I mow and such) I was surprised to see there were no mushrooms. My daughter had the same problem, and she was told by someone at Lowes that the only way to get rid of them is to keep plucking. Apparently that’s true. I’d plucked nineteen of them in all, and by this day they have not grown back.
I also put a small bowl of rat poison in the middle of the shed floor. (The bowl is one of the assortments of Corelle my wife wanted to get rid of when she bought the fancy-new from England, but I kept them for holding screws, nuts and bolts, and even nails and widgets when I’m working on a project.) When I checked it days later, none of the poisoned pellets seemed to be gone, but there was new poop on the shelves. There’s no food, so clearly they keep coming back for the excretory accommodations. My shed is a rat latrine.
And oh yes, I discovered exactly how they were getting in. Some previous owner had nailed thin sheets of plywood across the front and backs walls, to the 2-by-4s inside, I guess to hide the ragged openings at the base along the concrete slab. The walls had either rotted from rain or been chewed by rats over the years. Inexplicably that person had left an inch gap at the bottom of some of the patchwork. I don’t suppose it would have mattered had the wood been set down to the floor, because the sheets are only three feet tall and rats can climb.
I’d like to rip the whole thing down and get a metal shed. Of course, I want florescent lights, and an AC—but it has to be a combination of cooling, heating, humidifying and dehumidifying—and a small funnel-style urinal. But until any of that can happen, I plan to gut the old thing, de-nailing the ply as well as the long lower shelves, because those make no sense to me: they’re four inches above the floor and underneath them is rat poop and other debris that’s hidden and resistant to sweeping.
For now, I will only remove the plywood, and buy a chalking gun and several tubes of silicon, and plug the long stretches of holes with sections of wood that I’ll measure and cut in my garage. I’ll trim the nozzles to their biggest opening and line the three-quarter-inch wooden bandages all around their edges and press them against the inner walls to seal and block the access of Rodentia. That’s a project I look forward to, and soon.
But now tiny orange mushrooms are appearing in both my back and front yard. Where are the spores coming from? And how are they landing in isolated patches? Mysteries of the yard, I guess. I don’t know if they’re poisonous, and I don’t care. There are only three foods I eat that are orange or orangish, some squash, carrots, and oranges. Did you know the name of the color comes from the fruit? Makes me wonder why we don’t call it Carrot.
Well, I’m not going to try to pluck them. When I was looking under the kitchen sink for wasp spray, I found a bottle of fungicide. The back label doesn’t say anything about killing mushrooms, but they are a fungus, right? So I’m going to try it on those little carrot-colored shrooms. We’ll see. [email protected]