As I packed up the trash for the dump on Saturday, I noticed the top bag in the barrel was ripped open. Grapefruit rinds and egg shells littered the floor. A cream carton bore a huge hole. I stopped and silently looked around half expecting a porcupine or raccoon hovering from the kayaks above.
You may remember I had a small problem last fall with snakes in my wood pile. The garage is fast becoming my least favorite place. My car sheds massive chunks of gray slush on the floor, the wood pile is frighteningly low but seems to still produce more bark and dirt then when it was two layers thick and tall.
But this is the dead of winter, slush and bark are excepted. Critters are not. I spent one entire summer fighting with a momma porcupine who insisted in setting up her household under the back deck. Porkies are world-class wood chewers and I really didn’t want to replace the deck. She got me back when I found her quills in my underwear on a business trip to New York City.
Aside from the critters I voluntarily open my doors to, there are those that are no doubt struggling this winter. The Ravens must be finding slim pickings for food this time of year. I suspect the coyotes are hunkered down feeling fat as the deep snow no doubt has caused the deer population to become easy prey.
There are seasons when the back roads are littered with “nature’s little speed bumps,” carcasses of skunks, gray squirrels and porcupines are most common in spring. I can’t imagine surviving this winter only to meet one’s end under a car tire.
Something was definitely spending time in the crawl space under the house and it wasn’t the average mouse. Later in the day, I was bent over the damnable jig saw puzzle when I heard a soft thump. I looked around for the cat, she sat up on the couch next me and said, “Yup! I heard it too but I can’t find it!”
As the thumping moved to the kitchen, I argued with myself; was there really something down there or my imagination and if it was something down there would it please just leave however it came in? Not a chance according the cat, and even Alice responded with a warning growl from the couch to one particularly loud thud. They weren’t going to be much help. I pulled on boots, grabbed a flash light (heavy enough I hoped to also act as a weapon if necessary) and headed to the garage to open the crawl space. Standing well off to the side in case the beast came flying out, I opened the door and flipped on the lights. Nothing, not a sound. The flashlight didn’t do much to illuminate any more the few light bulbs. I was not climbing in to investigate.
Leaving the garage door wide open, I stomped back into the house muttering to the creature to please just leave! I dragged out the vacuum and rattled the powerhead over every hardwood floor from end to end, envisioning the monster moving toward the door below me. Best of all, it seemed to work! No more critter except this lovely yellow cat who now appears every morning outside my window. I can’t help but wonder if this was the troll below my floor…