UNFORTUNATELY, IN THE MIDST OF PEACE, THERE ARISES …SOMETHING ELSE.
Back in the mid 1980s, the Texas countryside west of Houston spread green to the endless horizon. Gray sandhill cranes and black-bellied whistling ducks assembled in fields of red Indian paintbrush and indigo bluebonnets.
The slow swirls of the Brazos River nourished ancient stands of pecan and live oak trees. The sparsely populated landscape was tamed by optimistic dry farmers who, believing in the grace of the agricultural rain gods, seeded cotton patches and swaths of corn.
I moved to this pastoral setting back in those bucolic ’80s. I wanted quiet, solace, rest from the urban congestion, a gentler, kinder way of life.
But, oh my, have I had to revise my quest for sylvan serenity! In the past 20 years, something unsetlling snuck up (as we say in Texas) unawares. Progress happened. That may be my new bumper sticker: Progress happens. The rural feel has diminished or, I might be more accurate to say, declined. The city has encroached, encouraging a conurbation of small quaint towns of inconsequential populations to morph into large unwieldy cities with malls and eateries and middle schools. What were once the occasional ice houses and horse barns and farmers markets and cotton gins have become martini bars and tapas bistros and inflatable birthday party zones and multiplex cinemas.
I have to say, I am wistful. There is a life, a rural, pastoral life that I have lost. The country life that I longed for, that I bought into with gusto, is gone.
I have to face that. Things change. Life moves on. Or, does it? For I mean seriously…what I have to tell you is seriously beyond the pale of proper civilization and is a part of true country life.
Yes, my friends. Wild hogs. And I’m not talking about cute Wilbur, that “Some Pig” of Charlotte’s Web fame. This is not some lonely, fearful, life-affirming shoat. I’m talkin’, and I mean talkin’, (’cause, again, that’s the way we say things down here in Texas)…I’m talkin’ big, black, Russian boars mixed genetically and unchauvinisticaly with cute, domestic, pink piggies. I’m talkin’ hogs that produce a new litter every 3-4 months. Three hundred pound black hogs with long snouts and sharp-edged, knife-like tusks. Hogs with an insatiable appetite for grub worms beneath my antique roses and under my husband’s newly flourishing blueberry bushes.
In short, I’m talkin’ about Hogs With Attitude.
In the book, The Art of Racing in the Rain, there is that unforgettable scene where the main character, The Dog, eviserates a little girl’s stuffed zebra. He does this because he knows, and we as the readers know, that the zebra is elementally evil. Well, let me tell you, the zebra is real, and he is out there. But he looks an awful lot like a 300-pound black, razor-tusked boar who wants to destroy my bucolic peace. And, I also have to tell you, I’m putting on my armor and throwing down the gauntlet, because I want these bad boys gone.
We’ve had all sorts of unshaven, monosyllabic yahoos who’ve come out and talked about trapping them. They’ve talked about things I really don’t want to hear about. Stuff like, “Well, yep, we’ll trap ’em, break their feet, throw ’em in the back of the truck, take ’em home and fatten’ em up. Yep…” Others say they’ll trap them and then come in and shoot them in the traps. Babies et all. Wam, Bam, Thank you, Ma’am. Over and done with. A few talk about trapping them and giving them to the “less fortunate.” The trouble is, somebody’s got to pay for the processing of all that hog meat and, let me tell you, I’ve checked into the price of that procedure, and it ain’t cheap. I’m not sure the “unfortunates” have the where-with-all calculated into their budgets.
My son and his buddies showed up one night in their Cabela camouflage with guns and good intentions (which I probably don’t have to mention have always paved the way to Hell). One of the young men—-a clean-cut, church-going new father came with an AK-47! Are we expecting an imminent invasion?
There isn’t a whole lot of guerilla warfare going on in our neck of the woods—-at least, not yet. And these are boars we’re after. Pigs. So, these well-intentioned young bucks lined up lawn chairs, popped the tabs on their Shiner Bocks, and actually assumed that the hogs would show up like in an arcade game for them to take pot shots at. Sorry, boys, but let’s see who won the Darwin awards on this party scenario.
I have to say, I hate all of the above options. But I do want these hogs gone.
I want action. Texas Monthly claims that there are over two million wild hogs in the Hill Country alone. I’ve got friends who live on golf courses and have hogs digging up their flower beds. Come on, what’s up with that? Rabbits or even armadillos I can accept. But big ole’ wild hogs? Something has to be done. Where is civilization when you want it?
I love animals, and I have a personal intolerance for any and all kinds of hunting, trapping, or whatever activities it is that those kind of people engage in. But I have to tell you…at 3:00 in the morning, when the dogs are howling and I’m losing sleep, and those big, fat, snorting, rooting hogs are in my rose garden, I want to grab my .40 caliber and, if I had halfway decent aim, I’d obliterate those big ole’ pork chops.
Just so you understand, I don’t know how this all will turn out. This is an ongoing saga. You will just have to stay tuned. And, I promise, I’ll let you know what happens with me and my piggies.
But, let me leave this with you. Just when you think that life makes sense…just when you feel that serenity surrounds you and that the lion has lain down with the lamb…just remember, the zebra is real. As Garth Stein wrote, “Somewhere, the zebra is dancing.”
And that zebra looks like a big ‘ole black hog. A big ‘ole black hog with tusks.