It was one dead animal too many and the time had come to deconstruct our deck. We loved that all the critters had a place to shelter but inevitably some crawled under and then passed over the rainbow bridge. I never thought I would have a use for all the terms I learned on the TV show CSI – Crime Scene Investigation, regarding decomposition. Three skunks, one squirrel and a raccoon leg – that’s almost a Christmas song…
When we moved into the shiny new house, 18 years ago, we were lucky enough to get one of the model homes. Granite countertops and fully landscaped back yard. It had grass that was utterly alien to me. In Scotland I had a yard the size of a field that I seeded and mowed. This Saint Augustine’s grass was as tough as old boots, killed the first lawnmower and had to go. We replaced the grass with little pebbles and bull rock and everything was wonderful. That is until, Toffee, our baby cat, decided that the little pebbles was ‘outside’ cat litter. She buried her poos, very carefully, but her toxic digestive system turned the rock green. We shared a parasite or two with the cats from Egypt.
What to do? We had a cat fence installed (think penitentiary boho chic) and then a deck within that area. The first deck was fantastic! The fence and cats prevented most visitors venturing under the deck. One special day, Mrs. Stripe touched noses with a Mama Raccoon – both were fascinated with each other. The deck lasted past the death of all three cats and the removal of the cat fence that was donated to an animal sanctuary. We lovingly maintained and painted it to match the house. Then the harsh Texas elements started to destroy the wood and the first critter died under it.
Our handyman deconstructed the much larger, original, deck and built a newer, smaller deck. It was nice but never quite as perfect as the first one. Every time the planks had to be removed (for locating dead bodies) and then replaced, it took a toll on the deck wood. When we were younger, it didn’t seem such a big deal; hilarious even. I managed to retrieve the squirrel corpse with yoga poses and a stick. Now there is not enough Celebrex in the world to make me bend like that.
We thought that the original concrete deck might be damaged but it was almost perfect. Manuel power-washed it and it looked amazing. Then our gardener came in and reset all the original boulders, graded the ground, replaced the little pebbles, added some rock and new cedar mulch. Teddy took me out for lunch and took a shot of me, below, in the perfect new yard. Teddy refers to my spotted Calvin Klein coat as my ‘Bet Lynch’ coat…only the Brits will get that but substitute any reality housewife. I have since painted the deck with stain called ‘Adobe’ and it looks exactly as it sounds.
But the critters were sad. Our beloved ‘Tail’ family of squirrels disappeared during the construction. They all had a genetic abnormality with their tails – we called them ‘Half’, ‘Three Quarters’ and the original girl, ‘Tail’. Naming animals is not our forte – we had one cat called Puss. We missed our little friends but then a new family moved in – the Floofs! They have full fluffy tails, glossy fur and bright white spots on their ears. Unlike our ‘Tails’, they run away when I open the door to give them peanuts but soon return. Then, one happy day last week, ‘Three Quarters’ returned! She sat and waited as I found a snack for her. We keep hoping that all the Tails return.
All three of our Egyptian cats are buried in our garden. I hope they approve of the new garden. RIP baby cats.