Only on Vashon – The Weekly Rundown 04/09/2023

April fools came around. It’s a holiday we celebrate by telling lies online, only in a more obvious and less insidious way than we would on a normal day. To celebrate an islander posted this ad: 

Islanders react to the “news” with excitement. “At last, a high-rise, so the newcomers can look down their noses at the natives so much more easily,” says one islander. 

Others discuss the features this new building, which may or may not be awarded water shares, would have.  “There will be an off-leash pet park on the roof😎

Others aren’t thrilled. We have this cryptic comment:  “Starting a protest group right now! Meet at four pm at Wax Orchards road. The Cat” 

Who is the cat, why are they organizing protests, and how come everyone seems to know who they are, as evidenced by the following comments: “The building will actually have an indoor series of cat tunnels, unlike any structure before. Does that make you feel better?” and  “I heard rumors that there will be Catnip gardens with tiny laser chasers on each floor.”

It seems the builders knew the cat would protest it and tried to lure them in with amenities. 

One person says, “I’ll give you my down payment when your assurances that a bridge will be built are met.” And another, “I call dibs on the penthouse!”

Apparently, the Beachcomber used to run April fools stories. An islander tells us this one:  “Just having moved here, I did not know that. So for a day or two I thought that the army corps of engineers was really going to force the separation of Maury Island and Vashon Island, removing all the homes and the fill used to connect to Islands!”

Now that’s happening slowly by natural processes as Quartermaster slowly gets washed out. 

The good thing about a high rise is that the local wildlife would have trouble infiltrating it. We are again confronted with the proliferation of coyotes. One islander posts this: “Holy Moly. We just had the Coyotes version of the Hallelujah Chorus a little early for Easter in center city Dockton..what a din!”

My guess is they were filming a children’s movie, in which optimum pathos requires that an animal cover Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah at the moment in the movie when all seems lost, everything is worse than it ever could be, the protagonist’s decisions have led to ruin rather than redemption, and it seems the world is ending. But then they pull themselves up by their bootstraps, take bold action, and make the world better than it was when the movie started. Be it an elephant (Sing) or an ogre (Shrek), an animal singing Hallelujah means you’ve got about 25 minutes before the credits, so might as well buy some more popcorn. 

Others have different, very wrong interpretations of the howling.

One person thinks they were hunting, even though they were obviously soul searching. 

“I lived near coyote dens in the Tri Cities sage brush where they troll the housing areas for pets and there is a distinct sound of excitement when they make their kills…my cats never made it past 15 months…my neighbor’s dog was lured out and taken by a pack. I lived with them for decades.”

This is like a horror movie where the scary thing is seductive and lures you to your doom with its wildness and dark charisma. And in kid’s movies, the bad guys are never charismatic. They are simply, obviously, repugnantly bad. So clearly, this can’t be why the coyotes were singing. 

Another islander also lived beside coyotes for decades and seems to think they are being cast in a negative light. “ I fell asleep to the beautiful sound of their serenade for many years of my life. Weirdly, our cats always lived normal length lives, but maybe that’s because there was plenty of hunting for the coyotes- no need to kill our night stalking cats. We even had a pet coyote when I was a child – she was delightful! Anyway, they howl for a variety of reasons, no need to freak people out thinking that’s why they’re howling.”

Wait, back up a step. You had a pet coyote? Like, in your house? And it was delightful? Did you dress it in outfits and play with it, the way my daughters do for our pets? What does a coyote look like in a little hat?  Did you tuck the coyote in when he was resting?  

Someone heard the coyotes and went outside with his broom, and the other neighbors heard him on his porch, yelling at the coyotes. 

I wonder if coyotes get together and speculate about the weird noises people make. 

Besides coyotes, we also have rats. Unfortunately, the coyotes don’t eat the rats, and the rats don’t take out the coyotes with their dirty plague fleas, so we just have two differently-sized infestations.

An islander asks, “Is safe/poison free/non-murder-y rodent removal a thing? And if so, whom do I call?”

One person recommends an owl box, which is poison free, but decidedly not non-murdey. 

Others recommend they trap and relocate the rats, but there are issues with that. As one commenter says,  “We did that for a while but we heard they keep trying to come back. And it gets tiring driving them. What am I, a mouse taxi service? 🤣🤣

There’s another problem with relocating, besides the part where you’re giving rides to rats. “Also keep in mind, mice will travel up to three miles to return to their homes.” For most island locations, that means you need to relocate the mice to the ocean. 

We also have this sage advice from an islander. “And there is a difference between a house mouse and a field mouse. I had a house mouse return each time I put him out. I know it was the same mouse cuz I put bright orange polish on its head. After 3 months of doing this, it just never came back. Yes, I have no life!!!”  I love the idea of marking the mice to track them. It’s all very scientific, and also deeply cute to imagine a little mouse with orange nail polish on its head. 

Another idea someone floats, “Quick tip: if you just name them they become pets.”

Others have a canary in the coalmine method to determine if rats are getting in. “We were blissfully rodent free for nearly a year, until a week ago. They have found a tiny hole or chewed their way in somewhere again, sigh…. I know because I have a small plate with a tiny piece of cheese on it, on the floor in the kitchen. It is my rodent early warning detection system. I check it every morning. If the cheese is gone, I know one has gotten in somehow, and set the trap”

We talk a lot about animal problems, but lately, we’ve had a new problem, namely: Everything’s expensive now. 

One islander says, “Uhmmmm okay. My mousse for my hair was almost 9 dollars. It’s not a “special” brand, and this is at the grocery store. That’s unbelievable. My bread has been over 8 dollars for a while now.”

I’ve saved a lot of money by having no beauty routine and only passable hygiene. But yes, everything seems to have doubled in price lately. 

People have deeply impractical solutions, on par with keeping the wild rats as pets. One suggestion: “Use pureed free wild “mouses” instead? Pest and hair control in one easy step. 😂” Another suggestion: “Or bake your own bread and shave your head?” 

And speaking of the grocery store, someone posted this picture to remind us not to break people’s car windows in the grocery store parking lot.

One heroic islander says, “I will break the window to save that poor dog from having to listen to Steely Dan….”

Anna Shomsky
Author: Anna Shomsky

I'm a former teacher and a data engineer living on Vashon Island. My writing has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Women on Writing and on the Post-Culture Podcast. I wrote and produced the radio show Whispers of Vashon for 101.9 KVSH. I’ve had short stories published in the anthologies Island Stories and Chicken Scratchings, as well as through the Open Space Literary Project.

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