First off, I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable weekend. I know we did.
We did a lot of yard work this weekend - moving mulch to flower beds, assembling a new grill, and replacing soaker hose. In case you were wondering, no, this is not the ideal time of year to replace soaker hose, but it was absolutely necessary. In our backyard we have stone terraces that are heavily planted and get a fair amount of sun. For years I have used soaker hoses on timers to water these terraces, as well as the front gardens (in full shade) and the vegetable patch. Being terraces the drainage is excellent, but the water retention - not so much, even with 4 inches of wood chip mulch. Nothing lasts forever and soaker hoses are no exception - they had dry rotted to the point that every time we turned them on we got at least one geyser somewhere. When it got to the point of the hoses having more compression fittings than actual hose, we decided we had to replace them. My plants were becoming desperate for water on days when it didn't rain (which haven't been many of late).
If one replaces soaker hose in the spring, it is easy to weave them around plants. However, if one replaces them in early July, the difficulty level increases dramatically. Leaves and branches have to be held out of the way, rose bushes are large and aggressive, and the terraces are hotter than a pizza oven in the desert due to the heat sink effect of the stone. Navigating around the plantings is challenging to say the least, especially if one happens to have the balance of an egg, as do I. Let us not omit the constant presence of mosquitoes, either. Between trying not to step on plants nor be impaled by them, trying to control 75 foot lengths of hose that had its own ideas about appropriate placement, and attempting to fend off the vampiric horde of mosquitoes, I suspect I looked rather like I was having some sort of seizure.
So there I was, doing soaker hose ballet on the terraces, when I heard my neighbor call me - in a whisper. I extricated myself and went over to her, and she points to the mulberry tree that provides so much food for the squirrels (and thus entertainment for us). Sitting on one of the lower branches is a woodchuck. (For those of you not familiar with regional rodentia nomenclature, a woodchuck is often called a ground hog, and occasionally a whistle pig. Where I grew up they were woodchucks or whistle pigs, so named for their whistle-like alarm call).
Woodchucks are burrowing animals; they do not normally climb trees. According to Wikipedia, they can and will climb trees if threatened, but are not recreational arborists. I have no idea what may have motivated this burrowing rodent to take up arborial habits, and the woodchuck wasn't about to divulge this information. I did not see any particular threat to the woodchuck prior to its entry into the tree, but what I perceive as a threat my not be the same for Marmota monax. Yet there s/he sat, hale and healthy, enjoying being the center of attention and eating a few mulberries to boot.
Being a reasonable person, I explained to the woodchuck that we would leave it to get down on its own, but if it had not done so within an hour, we would assist it. Being a reasonable rodent, the woodchuck departed the mulberry tree shortly thereafter.
I resumed soaker hose replacement, and by then Bob had finished what he was doing and came to assist me. We finished up the west terraces and moved on to the east side. I have three levels of terraces; on the lowest level on the east side is a large rugosa rose bush that Bob has dubbed Beelzebush, or Devil-bush for short. I think Bob genuinely believes that Beelzebush is a carnivorous plant, but that is because every time he gets within five feet of it he loses a few ounces of flesh. He actually will not get within five feet of it if he has any kind of choice at all, so I had the pleasure of weaving the soaker hose around Beelzebush. To Bob's great amusement, I patiently explained to the rose bush that I was bringing it water and it was not to bite me. To his great disgust, Beelzebush did not stick a single thorn in me. The moral of this story is that it pays to talk to your plants.
Purls of wisdom: When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.