The Mole Man

It was 8am and as the sky lightened, I began to see the dark silhouette’s of the trees emerge. It was my morning walk and in the distance I saw a lone figure digging in the ground, his pickup parked nearby. It was the nice neat lawns of the Presbyterian Seminary where a man in camouflage clothing and an army hat earnestly worked in the soaked earth. It had been 3 days of almost continuous downpour in Kentucky. I wondered what on earth he was up to. True to my curious nature, I stopped and struck up a conversation. I took a step backwards, repulsed, as he dangled a long spiky trap in front of me.
“See these?” he said, conspiratorially. “These are mole traps”.
I looked around and noticed that the ground had clearly been tunneled under as evidenced by the long mounds of dirt in the emerald lawn.
It didn’t take much nudging to urge him to tell me more about his mission.  I glanced at his truck and noticed the sign on the side was for pest removal. I shuddered to think what happened to the moles when they ran into these spiked cages that were plunged into the ground where their tunnels intersected.
I told him that personally I thought that all God’s creatures had a place on this good earth. The mole man didn’t disagree. Before I could take a breath, he dove into all the many and wondrous ways that moles could help out the wildlife populations such as eagles and hawks, fox, coyote, etc. Mole tunnels underground became superhighways for all kinds of rodents at any season, allowing them to repopulate at explosive rates. This in turn kept our bigger animal populations healthy.
He then told me how he and his ex wife at one time would take the moles they trapped and killed out to feed raptors at a wildlife rescue center on the edge of town. They were kept in the freezer to preserve them. Of course.
Unfortunately, he confided, raptors and fox, even coyote won’t touch moles.
“Did you know that moles eat those wild green garlic and they taste so strong of garlic that the wildlife can’t stand ’em? Won’t touch ’em!”
I shook my head numbly.
I was clearly in over my head. The man was a walking biology 101 book on the traits and habits of rodents and their predators. Since I had shown a small shred of interest, he was happy to share about his odd vocation. I must admit, I was morbidly fascinated because of my love of nature, but this was overkill. Obviously not many people asked him about his work.
The thing that did come to me, in connection with bees, is how one attains a mastery of a creature, a plant, an element of earth, over time. Clearly the mole man had learned to thinklikeamole, though for a slightly different purpose than why I try to thinklikeabee.  He had clearly wed his instinct to the animals he trapped. It even occurred to me that in his pursuit of them, he had come to some sort of reverence or honoring of the whole eco-system. From that 1/2 hour of rapid fire stories, I gathered that he did everything in his power to support the web of life by recycling the moles and rodents that he collected on his missions of death. He knew his birds of prey and four legged critters—that they needed the “pests” that he sought to eliminate in order to live. So he worked in service of them as best he could, while making a living at such odd times as the wee daylight hours.
E.O. Wilson, was an American scientist,(b. 1929) who completed an exhaustive taxonomic analysis of the ant genus Lasius in 1955. You might say he loves everything ant. In a TED talk, he shares movingly about the way all creatures great and small are interdependent.
He teaches us how to admire, honor and preserve all God’s creatures.
I finally mumbled something about needing to get to class, saying “You should be teaching Biology at the local college”, to which he apologized and thanked me profusely.  “Young lady, so sorry to hold you up, nice talking with you.”  And as abruptly as our conversation began, it ended. He, fell to his knees and kept digging. I began to walk briskly, thinking about those blind, soft creatures of the earth, who lived such humble, short lives in the dark. I said a prayer for them…and for him.

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