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Holes

This is not the kind of trap I was talking about, just fyi.

            So those of you who know me, know that I’m a total rock hound, and I can get lost in gems, fossils and minerals for hours. Those of you who’ve known me all my life will know that this has been the case since day one. I attribute this primarily to my Uncle Eric, my mom’s younger brother, who got me interested in geology right from the get-go. My parents play a role in that they encouraged my exploration of the world around me, and Indiana Jones gets some credit, too. You know, because the campy films about him were badass, and he made exploring and science look really cool.

            I like digging—I always have. You never know what you’re going to find when you put a shovel into the soil, and that was the basis for my summer of holes. I was 8 or 9 or maybe somewhere in between, and digging was my greatest hobby.

            “Look at stupid Kari out there,” Sven would say from inside the comfortable living room whilst playing video games. “Doesn’t she know that she’s not gonna find anything?”

            “Oh, you’ll make a wonderful ditch digger someday with a work ethic like that,” my mother would add.

            They did not deter me, though. I had to dig. I had to find treasure or fossils or weird looking rocks or China. It didn’t matter. I had to find something.

            We had a huge backyard in Montara, and my pride and joy was a hole I’d dug into some clay. It was incredibly hard work, but I was convinced it would yield something incredible. And then it did:

            “Oh, my God! Mom! Dad! I struck oil! We’re rich! I’m going to be an oil prospector, and we’re going to be filthy rich! Come see!” I bellowed from the back door.

            My mom was napping, but my dad was working in the garage, so he came to see what I was so excited about. I was beaming. I was ecstatic for heaven’s sake!

“Cat, that’s a gas pipe. You need to bury it back up right now,” my dad said as he gazed into the pit I’d dug.

“What? No. It’s an oil pipe. See? It’s black. Oil is black, and it made the pipe black. And since it’s on our land, it’s ours to claim. Right?”

“No, Cat. Sorry.”

“Well, can we at least claim the gas as our own?”

“Only your own gas,” he replied and farted in my general direction. “Now bury that pipe back up and try not to dig any more deep holes along the line the pipe was going.”

I laughed at his joke, but only half-heartedly. I think he probably asked if I wanted help burying it, but I know I declined because I wanted to be alone with my glorious dig site. Pottery shards would have been cool. Spanish gold would have been cooler. Hell, I’d have even been happy with a rock or two, but instead I’d done the unthinkable and struck oil. And in just a few brief minutes, I had all my 8 year old pipe dreams crushed by the sad reality that it was actually a PG&E pipe. And then, to top it all off, I had to fill in the epic hole I’d spent most of my summer vacation digging.

And it wasn’t the only hole I’d dug, either. The entire backyard was littered with holes of various shapes and sizes; this just happened to be my favorite digging spot.

I sighed heavily and began to carefully fill in the space around the pipe. As the giant pile of earth diminished back into the hole from whence it came, I thought about Indiana Jones and his glorious adventures. I wanted so badly to find sacred river stones or the Holy Grail or anything at all. And then I began to think about all his near-escapes, and how I’d escape just like him. And then I thought about the bad guys who made the booby traps that waited to end Dr. Jones, and of all these thoughts, only one thing stuck out at me in my despair: booby traps.

I recovered quickly from the loss of my epic pit, because I had a new project. I spent the next two weeks carefully turning all my other holes into one-way traps. It was very detailed work: each hole required a set of carefully chosen sticks with sharp points. I’d plant them in circles facing downward into the holes, and then I’d carefully cover them with a patchwork of pine boughs and tanbark. It was basically the most ingenious thing I’d ever done up until that point in my life.

By the end of things, I probably had 12 solid, well-working traps planted. I secretly hoped I’d catch a raccoon or skunk, “rescue” it, have it be so grateful for my kindness that it would become my loyal pet, and we’d go on to have adventures with each other. Not-so-secretly, I informed my concerned family that it was a security measure, and I was attempting to capture pirates or burglars or possibly one of my brothers. I didn’t really expect the traps to work, but I hoped wildly that they would.

And then one day it happened—I caught something.

“Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarin! Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarin! God damn it, Cat! Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarin!”

My dad had gone out back to get the big ladder to do something on the roof. Maybe he was going to trim the trees; who even remembers anymore? Most of the time we kept it in Spider Land, which is what we’d named the crawl space under the house. To get to Spider Land, he would have had to precariously traverse my field of one-way traps. Apparently he’d gotten there successfully, and it was only when he was carrying the heavy, vertical ladder back to the front of the house (and probably very distracted by it) that he let his guard down enough to forget about the holes.

“Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarin! Get your ass out here right now!”

Not only had he twisted his ankle, but his foot was stuck. Like completely stuck. I was delighted!

“Oh, my God! It worked! My trap worked!”

“Cat, take the ladder, God damn it!” I was too small to actually take the ladder, so I kind of walked it backwards and downwards until it was on the ground again.

I watched him work the sticks out of his pants leg and shoelaces. He grumbled about damn cats being no good, but I could tell he was proud of me.

“Cat, did you make that trap?” he asked.

“Yep!” I grinned back.

“Are there any others?”

I pointed out the rest of them for him, and I swelled with pride.

“Wow. That’s actually pretty impressive. Tell you what, Cat. Now that you’ve caught something, would you uncover the camouflage from the other traps so we’ll know where they are?”

I was so overjoyed (and maybe a little frightened, too) at my success that I happily got to work on dismantling my traps. My dad helped me, and in very little time, the backyard was relatively safe again.

I didn’t find any lost treasure that summer, but I’d like to think Indiana Jones still would’ve been proud of my efforts. Regardless of whether he’ll ever completely admit it, I know my dad was.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Wade Dickinson
    February 25, 2012 at 9:34 am

    … That’s not quite how I remember it! I think I had a compound fracture in my ankel and a dislocated knee. I threatened to kill you but we both knew I didn’t really mean it.. And, when I farted you laughed like crazy.

    That’s how I remember it,

    Dad

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