There is a price to pay for being too green, I’ve decided. The corollary to my theory is that there is such a thing as eating too healthy – which my sister reminds me of every time I visit her, eat even a morsel of the tasty processed snacks she feeds her children, and then have digestive hell to pay. “Your body is too picky,” she tells me, “you’ve lost your normal food immunity.”
That, unfortunately, I can’t help. I’m doomed to eat healthy food by virtue of vanity and no health insurance. But this green thing, I’m beginning to wonder about. Starting a compost pile seemed like the right thing to do when we moved back to Beaufort. Turns out it does nothing to help our drought-battered sandy soil but we inadvertently created a nightly buffet for every rodent in Pigeon Point. Word apparently spread. Byrne Miller’s old house is fair game – they only have a cat and she’s trapped behind a screen porch!
The green penalty increased over time. Gary labored over a garden, only to have our first melons mysteriously disappear the night before we planned on harvesting them. He has a theory that only raccoons are smart enough to rig up some leverage device or stand on their hind legs and roll a heavy melon out of a raised garden. Me, I give squirrels the credit. They are even pickier eaters than I am and sample every tomato before deigning them unfit for our consumption. The melon obviously met with their approval and they simply amassed an army of their friends to take our prize.
I use the military analogy because squirrels are winning the war, let there be no doubt. When we decided to be even greener and put out bird seed during the drought, Gary had to buy a BB gun to keep the squirrels away. It is on ongoing standoff and the rats with fluffy tails resume the assault the minute he puts away the gun. Same goes with the water we put out for the birds during the heat wave this summer. Every night we watch families of raccoons finish their buffet dinner at our compost pile with a leisurely draining of the bird bowl. They’re often too full to waddle into the bushes to use the bathroom and find our deck quite convenient and sanitary.
It isn’t just the Low Country that retaliates against being too green. Last week we stayed at Kim Gundler’s rental cabin near Asheville, North Carolina. It sits on a working farm and the coolest thing about staying there is that you get to join the farmers and pick whatever produce you can eat. The okra was fuzzy and plump, the onions sweet and juicy and zucchini too tender to pass up. So I baked zucchini bread – the greenest, healthiest zucchini bread you can imagine. I used olive oil instead of butter and cane molasses made right there on the farm instead of sugar. Kim’s little log cabin smelled just like I imagined Laura Ingalls’ would have and I put the loaf outside on the porch to cool while we played a game of cards. It was dark when we remembered our healthy dessert and we couldn’t see it right away. We searched by flashlight but the empty loaf tin was halfway to the barn by the time we found it. If I’d stuck to a store-bought Sara Lee loaf full of preservatives and high fructose corn syrup, I’m sure the vegan, free range, organic raccoons of North Carolina would have turned up their noses.
The first night we were back from the farm, I put a fresh bar of soap on the tray of our outdoor shower. There is nothing more refreshing than a hose-supplied, un-heated shower under the Live Oak trees during a Low Country summer. But the next morning the soap was gone. I searched under the porch, thinking maybe I had knocked it off the deck in the dark. No luck, so I dug up our last bar of Trader Joe’s soap. We ignore our carbon footprint and make pilgrimages to North Charleston for this soap –it’s cruelty-free, Tea Tree Oil, pure vegetable soap. You don’t come out of a shower after using this soap smelling like a strawberry Margarita or an Irish sailor. You smell like, well, a freshly washed zucchini. Which is probably why we heard a thump at three this morning. Rosie snarled at the sliding glass door that leads out to the deck and the outdoor shower and Gary turned on the light to investigate. There, hanging from the privacy shutters that block our shower from our neighbor’s view, was a young opossum. Under her, covered in claw and tooth marks, was a freshly dropped bar of Trader Joe’s soap. Is a reclaimed wood, punched tin soap safe far behind?