Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Friday, 7 September 2012

I'm sitting in my brothers' house--the one they share in Becket, MA--waiting for them to arrive.  We are gathering to celebrate my mother's 93rd birthday.  Joyce and I are in the living room.  We hear a noise in the kitchen--sounding almost like footsteps.  Did one brother arrive already?  I get up and go to the kitchen.  Nothing.  Then I notice: a single kernel of popcorn is lying in the middle of the floor.  Weird.  I pick it up, throw it away.

Ten minutes later.  The same sound.  I go out again.  No one.  But, again, a single kernel of popcorn in the middle of the floor.  Double-weird.

I look over at a large bag of popcorn sitting on the kitchen table.  I walk over, look at it closely.  A hole in one corner.  A nibbled hole.  Mystery solved.  We have a mouse.

Suffice to say, the mouse did not survive the weekend, but I will offer no grim details about its demise.  But he (she? I did not look) died well, in pursuit of something it both loved and needed.  May we all end so.

But that weird popcorn-on-the-floor experience got me to thinking about other critters that have found their ways into places we've lived.  A few months ago I blogged about bats, so I will not go there again (those episodes creep me out, just thinking about them).

Of course, there are always the critters that are no real surprise--the moths, flies, mosquitoes, even the odd firefly that winks in the living room on a summer's night (hole in a screen somewhere?).  A bee now and then.  Spiders of varying sizes and seriousness.  Odd-looking things that came up through the bathtub drain in places we've lived--especially old places with old plumbing.  A mouse now and then.  These are the creatures that we almost expect to see now and then and deal with in our own ways--sometimes ways that involve violence and even the killing of a fellow creature.

Then there are the creatures you don't expect.  We had one friend who had a deer on the screened porch, a hawk in the kitchen.  We've never had anything that exciting.

When I was a kid in Hiram, we sometimes got rats in the basement of our old house, but our loyal dog Sooner dispatched a few (oh, what noisy battles in the dark basement!), and the others decided it was in their interest to check out some different real estate.

Joyce and I have had no rats in the house (none of the murine persuasion, that is).  But we have had those most inventive and troublesome critters--squirrels.  They generally declare their presence with night-time and/or early-morning scratches emanating from the attic.  Never a good sound.  Never an innocuous sound.  And squirrels do not go gentle into that good night.  They need some major encouragement--some (often expensive) dissuasion and blockades.  Once I was so frustrated with them that I seriously considered torching the house--but not until I was sure they were upstairs.

Once, a squirrel fell down the chimney at my father-in-law's house.  Dad had recently passed away, and Joyce had cleared out everything in preparation for its sale.  We went over after the weekend and checked the basement, where the squirrel, in his desperation to escape, had attacked every one of the half-dozen basement windows.  He had clawed and chewed away all the wooden grilles separating the panes--all of them--and only putty and gravity were holding in the panes.

We called the insurance agent, who, sounding so very sad and regretful, said the policy her father had paid religiously for forty years offered no coverage for rodent damage. So sorry. 

We had to pay an animal-control guy to come trap the squirrel (he did), then a glazier to repair every basement window.  Then, poorer by a sad amount, we wondered what would have happened if we'd neglected to secure the door at the top of the basement stairs.  Mr. Squirrel would have torn the house apart.  And I would guess it's not all that easy to sell a place that's been trashed by a squirrel.

Other than these experiences, the only really difficult (and sometimes unpleasant) creature in our house is typing these words ...

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