How do you deal with unexpected complications in life – the surprises that pop up in the middle of your well-planned routines? Like gophers in the middle of the lawn – or as in the picture above in the perfect lawn in front of a housing development sign. The gophers don’t care how much time and effort – seeding, weeding, cutting, feeding – was done to get that perfect patch of grass. They just decided to surface from their tunnel at some point.

I have plenty of experience with gophers. Growing up we had an acre of land in the west hills outside of Portland Oregon. Half of it was covered in blackberry bushes – at least we fenced it off for horses (a neighbor’s and then my sister’s). The other half had the house, garage, barn, and rolling hilly grassland, punctuated with loads of trees and, yes, plenty of gopher holes. There was only one level spot in the yard and that was the croquet/badminton field that my father created.

And my chore growing up was mowing the grass. I hated that, not because of the obstacles per se, but because it was a chore that I put off till the grass got a foot or so high and because the mower was very hard to start. If I had known what was to come later – a reel mower for our Phoenix yard – I wouldn’t have complained. And, of course, my dad and I had issues all through my teen years.

The gopher holes were not a major problem – I just mowed over them. I don’t ever recall seeing a gopher. They weren’t any more trouble than the trees and blackberry bushes and the posts for the clothesline and the grape arbor that I had to mow around. And of course, I wouldn’t trade all the trees we had – cherry, apple, plum, walnut, filbert, pear – even though they were hard to mow around also. Our yard was not perfect but it was full of life.

I guess it’s how you look at those gopher holes. If you aim for perfection something will inevitably mess it up, because life is not meant to be perfect. Some people agressively go after the gophers the same way they deal with weeds or “pests” with solutions – exterminators or poisons – that ultimately contaminate the environment. They so much want to remake their little corner of the world in their image rather than live in cooperation with it.

I must admit I am a little biased. I am a wild gardener – letting plants grow where and as they may and making allowances for the critters who may like to nibble or dig. I want to be part of nature, not lord over it. I accept the surprises that happen, good or bad. Or to cite another creature that tends to create mounds in the lawn – I don’t “make a mountain out of a molehill.”