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Critters and Me

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…

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18 comments on “Critters and Me

  1. Enjoyed the way you wrote the story
    You’ve been adopted – the accommodations good enough, next checking out the menu?
    Animals do have such a difficult time between the winters and not understanding share the road concept.
    We had a momma skunk move under the deck next door one summer. (The neighbors would not listen about closing up around their deck).Mom and the darling little skunk kittens had a regular route at dusk bouncing like lambs across the back yard and down the block. Every day. For some reason they respected Olde Tiger who woke up long enough to snarl “not under this deck”. The little ones would actually trot up and do a little curtsey or bow in front of him before following mom off. (worrisome) Eventually we hired Mr Skunk who humanely trapped them and carried them off to a state forest. It was the oddest thing as the skunks seemed to understand and like him. Animals know a kind soul.

    1. Love baby skunks as long as they aren’t neighbors! So cute and definitely fun to watch. Glad they had a kind human to help with the relocation.

  2. Great animal stories from you and from Philosopher. Still snow, huh?

    1. I am seeing lots of melting as our temps are in the 30s and 40s this week. Hope is melts SLOWLY!! Thanks Susan for your support.

  3. Skunks are coming out of hibernation now, I’ve noticed. It’s a good thing your visitor was a cat and not a skunk. When I was a boy a neighbor had one under their porch and when they went poking at it, it sprayed. That house was almost unlivable for a while afterwards.

    1. Giggling at your story. I have encountered a few thanks to dogs I’ve owned. The initial spray is a nasty, almost chemical odor followed by that lingering perfume…

  4. Chris F says:

    I’ve also had a stray who managed to find a way past the skirting and under the house, but I think he was run off by the mama possum I saw the other morning.

    1. Critters are taking over from New Hampshire to Texas! Film at 11!

  5. Annie says:

    Such are the adventures of country life! I’m not sure I could have peered into a crawl space with a flashlight like you did. Although I hope it was the pretty kitty, I’ll stay tuned for updates.

    1. I don’t mess with the crawl space, it doesn’t mess with me…usually. Same with the critters.
      Pretty Kitty was not here today so I am holding out hope he/she has a home somewhere nearby and managed to make it back there.

  6. Touring NH says:

    Let me guess…you’ve already started putting out a dish of food for it?!? Having a walkout basement, we’ve had a few visitors too. The hardest to get rid of was the chipmunk. Very cute, but no thanks. I’m glad you had the nerve to inspect the crawlspace!

    1. They don’t call me “Paula Bunyan” for nothing! Mind you, I had a big flashlight and I didn’t go in!! Critters, dark spaces and no one to hear me scream make for a nightmare.

      1. Touring NH says:

        Too bad you couldn’t wait for me. They don’t call me Paula Bunyan, but I could have heard you scream and called 911 for you.

      2. Nice to know you would have had my back!

  7. You sure are brave. I appreciate what animal lovers do, but I’m a scaredy-cat.

    1. I was terrified Joyce, make no mistake! But living alone means I have only myself to send to the crawl space, so I’m glad it ended well…

  8. Marie Keates says:

    I’m glad it was only a cat. At least I hope so. Somehow wordpress unfollowed you for me so I’m on a catch up mission. 🙂

    1. This is strange, Marie. I can’t get your posts to appear in my email either. Glad we persist in following each other, I always enjoy seeing what you have been up to.

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