“I am a gardener. I have been catching moles in gardens and farms for years, and I have decided that I am not going to do it any more. Molecatching is a traditional skill that has given me a good life, but I am old now and tired of hunting, trapping and killing and it has taught me what I needed to learn.” As Marc Hamer spends his last days as a mole catcher, he reflects on his past as a homeless teenager, a gardener, a family man. As he tells his story he imparts a lot of knowledge on the secrets of his craft and the extraordinary nature of moles. Moles have “massive hands, each of which have two thumbs” and “are as wide as his head. He has a thick knot of muscle in his neck and shoulders which is as hard as a pebble”. The author tells of how moles survive underground, how they know everything that goes on in their tunnels, how they have amazing memories, how they sense danger and can block off part of the tunnel to keep safe. Part of the interest in the book is Hamer’s description of how he spent life as a teenager. “When I was sixteen I left home and stated walking. I started walking for about eighteen months, and lived wild with the animals and birds, sleeping under hedges, in woodlands and on riverbanks.” He developed a sense of being nature and would lose his man nature whenever he left his home and his feet hit the ground. “Telling the whole story on the life of a mole is …impossible. Hidden in the darkness, his story is created from myths and a handful of observations passed on from person to person, each with their own point of view. The moles, like us, are deeply mysterious creatures, and we will only ever catch a glimpse of their truth.
After a time of homelessness, Marc Hamer completed a degree in fine arts. He worked at various jobs using his arts degree before becoming a gardener and molecatcher in Wales.
This interesting book is full of life musings, poetry, art and natural history. It may be purchased from Amazon.ca in paper or electronic form.
This book is reviewed by Heather Ewing, Membership Chair of ONC.