Near a hollow and a rippling stream deep in the south lived a family of Moles. The hollow was dense with all sorts of small trees, shrubs and tall grass. The stretch of land had been left undone for many years since the old man who owned it had refused to sell it or make any improvements. He loved to live in a natural area unlike most people nearby who had their yards all mowed and carpeted with grass. Mr. Brower was an elderly man who had retired from teaching and just wanted to get back to nature as he called it. He was an avid lover of the natural way of life and did not appreciate the way construction companies were ripping away the beauty of the earth.
Mr. Brower lived alone having never married. People that lived around him were aware of his uncommon ways but got along as best they could. He was a likeable man and was very intelligent almost to a fault. He simply wanted to live his life like he wanted to and that was the simple life. Since he had not married he pretty much did as he wanted when he wanted. He lived in a small white framed house that had seen its best days. The paint was so chipped one could hardly say it was white. The once screened in porch was half open because the screen itself had come loose making a great entrance for all the varmints nearby. Tall pine trees grew amid vast Willow Oak trees around the house and property making it secluded from the nearby neighbors.
Mr. Brower was most unusual in that he cared very little about what he wore. As long as the holes were not so big that important parts were exposed he didn’t really care. His well worn leather shoes were held together by all sorts of ties. It made no difference to him if they matched or not. You see Mr. Brower had worked all of his life and saved almost all of his income. He had lots of money so this was not the issue. He just wanted to go back to nature for he was happiest there.
Most people do not have little knowledge of moles nor do they care to know. Those who do know about moles do not like the little furry creatures simply because they dig holes all over folk’s yards and cause all sorts of problems. They are about six to eight inches long and are dark gray in color. They have a pink naked little pointed nose that extends well in front of their mouth. Most people think they are blind but this is not quite true. They do have small eyes and ears but they are covered by fur making seeing very difficult for them. So it was with Millie. She had spade like front feet that were much wider than they were long. She used them for pushing large mounds of dirt up onto the surface of the earth.
“I’m so hungry!” Millie said peeping out of a hole. I’m in the mood for some fat juicy grub worms or maybe a millipede. I had ants yesterday and I want something different today.” She mused.
“Hey! Marvin come over here and look what I have done.” She called to her friend. “I’ve made a huge larder and filled it with hundreds of earthworms. They will be delicious this winter when it’s too cold to come above ground”. She pointed to a huge burrowed out hole with mud all around the top. Marvin knew all too well what the larder was. He had built several and knew all too well about them. It was their stockpile of food. Every mole had one of some size.
“It’s a good pantry for us moles” He exclaimed. “I’m very proud of you Millie. Most girls don’t like to do all this work and get their fingernails all dirty. They had rather us guys do all the work!” He snapped with a half grin on his face.
“Well I am a Tar Heel mole and I can do anything a boar can do. I’m just as fast and my spade shaped feet can tunnel a burrow in record time.” She snorted. “I can eat as much and keep my velvety mohair coat better than most sows. Since I live in my burrow alone, which is my preference I don’t have to put up with junk all the time from the male boars!” Her sender snout wiggled showing her needle-like teeth. “I’ve been on my own for years and I’m a tough sow to reckon with.”
“How come you call yourself a Tar Heel?” Marvin ask curiously thinking Millie was a strange girl mole.
“Well you see I was born in North Carolina and my ancestors actually fought with the confederates in the great Civil War. It came down through my family members that our soldiers stuck to our ranks like they had tar on their heels.”
“Did you say Tar? What the heck is tar?” Marvin continued.
“Tar is a black sticky paste that comes from the many pine trees here in North Carolina. They told me that tar, pitch and turpentine from the pine trees where shipped far and wide many years ago. I’ve had tar stuck on my feet and it is some really hard stuff to get off. I was running across a road men had just worked on. They had put that black stuff on it to hold the rocks and when I ran across it my feet became coated with the gunk. It took me months to get it all off. So now I can say with pride that I am officially a Tar Heel mole!” She grinned. “I might not see as well as other varmints but I am like the Tar Heels, one of a kind!”
Marvin nodded his tiny head agreeing because he knew Millie and she indeed was one of a kind.
“I heard that moles in the nearby farms were being trapped and killed off. Did you hear that?” She asked Marvin.
“Yep, I heard about it. I guess they grew tired of all the mole holes messing up their land. I try very hard not to make any more holes that I have to. It’s just not good for the soil.” He continued trying to explain away the reasoning for the trappings.
“Aunt Lucy told me that they were catching moles by the buckets full and skinning them for their fur. It looks like to me it would take a whole lot of moles to make a coat for a human. I sure don’t cherish the thought of giving up my glossy fur to anyone. If they come here, I’ll just hide. I’ve been saving up earthworms and grubs for a long time. I’ve got larders in lots of places. Since I live alone it will last me a good while.” She said rubbing the soil from her Tar Heel hands. “I’m a very proud mole unlike many around here. I’m like my ancestors of old. I’ll stick right here just like I’ve got tar on my heels.” She looked this way and that to be sure all was safe for she had been outside longer than usual.
“Hum! The next thing I know you’ll be dyeing your fur red or blue!” He teased knowing that these colors were indeed chosen colors for most people in North Carolina.
“Well I wouldn’t go that far but I would think about blue ears”. She smiled. “Just you watch out for the traps and let me know if you see any on our plot of land.” She ordered.
Years passed by quickly and it came to be that Mr. Bowers passed away. His once natural home had been sold to another family. They did not appreciate Mr. Bowers’s peculiar taste and had all sorts of people over to work on cleaning up the place. Tractors and mowers of all sorts were busy cutting the tall grass. Limbs on trees were zipped off with blades of all sorts and concern swept over all the residing moles. This included Millie!
“What are we to do?” Timothy her unkempt neighbor asked.
“You can all do whatever you like but I’m staying here. I might have to limit the size of my tunnels but I’m stuck like glue to my burrow!” She answered in an aggravated tone.
“I’ve got babies now and I just can’t move. Besides this is MY home!” Millie snapped angrily as she looked to and fro.
So it came to be that Millie did exactly as she had said. She continues to live in North Carolina on the same plot of land. She and all her children tell everyone to this day that they are proud Tar Heel moles who will not be driven from their beloved homes.
So the state of North Carolina still has a vast supply of moles and is still trying to limit their burrowing. If you look carefully in your backyard you just might find a family living with you.
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved.
Question. What is a Larder?