Mole Hills Part One

Yesterday morning was dominated by back-t0-back moles, dug fresh from the soft earth of Goose Creek by young Gandy, who is beginning to match her predecessor’s acumen for locating and extracting the squirming suede sausages for some brief (or agonizingly prolonged) period of play before their batteries give out.

Two six-inch-long half-pound eastern Moles joined us within ten minutes of the end of the first one and the excavation of the second, not twenty feet from the back door. (The pasture soil is so heaved and tunneled with mole burrows that it feels like walking on wet bread. There is a great role for these creatures in open pasture in their eating of Japanese beetle grubs and aerating the soil via their tubeways. In our garden, they are not as appreciated.

This image, which I will call “Mole in Space” evolved from the serendipity of the morning of moles and the first day of playing with Procreate, a draw-paint program for the iPad. The learning curve is, if anything, steeper for this program than for ArtRage, but it is zippy and advanced, and I’ll be doing good to do more than black and white sketches with it.

I’m a little bummed that I can’t make very large images with the iPad One. I’ll have to test the feasibility of shrinking to small book-sized black and white versions before I sink too much time into this idea–even though I can still successfully kill immense amounts of time just doodling in the glory of ineptitude and whimsy.

But given the possible future in which I’ll have this book (Floyd County Almanac) to illustrate, I may choose to include images, images and drawings, or none of the above. And so I justified the purchase of this app ($5) with that reasoning. (Rationalization?)

More to come on moles, since, when life gives you lemons….

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Fred
    A few years back, there was a stretch of five years when I was a Ranger or player’s assistant on a public golf course. During that time I acquired the name of Mole Man due to my prowess and skills at observing, digging up, and dispatching to mole heaven 22 specimens in one year. That was my best year. I always carried around special tools to accomplish the desired end. One of those tools was a garden fork. It worked well for me.
    I understand that Gandy has better tools to work with than any of those I had with me. I also understand that you may not be there to witness every one of her captures or kills. But if you would, keep a mental running tally, we could see how long it would take her to accumulate a total of 22. I’m already seeing myself as a loser in this contest.

  2. I really like the idea of including your drawings in the Almanac, (although your photography skills are probably more worthy of sharing.) Your flat mole is fun!