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Wilmes — May the bluebird of happiness fly up your nose

"May the bluebird of happiness fly up your nose.’’

Do you remember that verse from the novelty song that was a minor hit back in the 1960s. I do, probably because my brother sang it until his life was threatened. The song did not rival Tom T. Hall’s best and wasn’t on par with "Monster Mash,’’ but I found myself singing it the other day.

Bluebirds have been linked with happiness since ancient times and have a special place in Native American culture. Shirley Temple starred in a move made in 1940 about two kids who leave home to search the world for the bluebird of happiness. They return empty-handed only to discover that the bluebird they sought had been in their house all along.

Happiness, the message was, is where you find it.

Can’t find much of it in these strange days.

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The reason is as clear as the dirty and fat basketball-like mounds of dirt that scar the lawn. The pocket gophers are preparing to mark spring by building more additions — complete with what appears to be high-rise condos. It will be yet another shot fired in our down-and-dirty war.

The winter-long armistice ends with the gophers winning. They have become so emboldened that their leader — no doubt a depraved dictator hooked on tender dandelion roots — appeared to me in a dream the other night to claim squatter’s rights to the estate.

That seems reasonable. At last count, there are 42 mounds on a lawn that a 38-inch rider can mow in about two hours.

I know that pocket gophers are among God’s most industrious creatures, capable of moving a ton or more of dirt with their piston-like paws and razor-sharp teeth. Rabbit-like in fertility, they can produce four litters annually when times are good. If that is true, these gophers are living in the Roaring 20s without Prohibition, of course.

I want to kill them all. I do not feel the least bit guilty about that.

I had taken a live-and-let live approach for several years, going so far as to guarantee that as long as they stayed on the pasture side they could have free reign there.

The brokered deal was broken a few years ago when they sliced and diced through the potato patch, cucumbers and tomatoes like out of control veg-o-matics. They ruined a promising young apple tree and destroyed a walnut tree by gnawing through its tap root.

Steel traps claimed only the dimwitted and lame. A professional assassin was called. Armed with gas and bombs, he guaranteed success. Collective headaches aside, the gophers rebounded from their hangover.

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It’s time for poison pellets, which are also guaranteed to work.

I’m not overly optimistic.

A friend suggested that I live trap them and take them to an alfalfa field owned by someone he isn’t particularly fond of. That would be too mean, even for me. Perhaps the gopher development could be transformed into a tourist destination and provide environmental education for grade-school students. Another option is to call the University of Minnesota to suggest that the current striped gopher logo be replaced with its feisty and fat cousin.

I’ll bring those ideas up with the head gopher the next time he appears.

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