Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Sidewalk Going Nowhere, continued

(Story begins here.)

Living in harmony with nature has been the “lifestyle” that shapes our decisions for this property. There’s a ring of manicured land around our house, but beyond that, much grows, untamed.
The pastures have returned to fields of wild flowers--a buffet for butterflies and birds. The ponds wear bright green blankets of growth, hiding frogs whose voices emerge on muggy summer evenings. The mighty oak’s woods stretch forth fingers as small trees. And a barred owl rests in the pines.

The house itself is perched on the top of a hill which drops to a ravine behind. From the back door, a sidewalk going nowhere leads to its edge—a remnant from a time when nature called to people here, a century ago.
Today these woods shelter the animals who walk the creek beds connecting neighboring properties. In the evening, a large opossum scavenges beneath the feeders outside my kitchen window. Many mornings I wake to glimpse a raccoon just slipping back to bed in his hollow tree.
A large hickory stands just a few feet away, dropping showers of nuts on the roof each fall. Gray squirrels carry large sycamore leaves high into her branches, fluffing their nests against winter’s chill.
And the deer rest, barely seen, on the leafy banks.
We are richly rewarded for this closeness.

But, with every season, we battle for the rights to dwell here.
The smallest crack is an invitation to live within the house on the hill.
Fred patrols the spaces on his side of the wall; I do my best on the other—diligently searching for the mouse nest being beautifully decorated with the fringe--each day growing shorter, from my living room rug.

Mice I can deal with.
What’s settled behind my foyer wall, I cannot.

It is chewing with great assertion in this 2-story space—the gnawing magnified by the hollowness of the wall and heard easily throughout the house.
We sit at dinner, tossing worried looks across the table. How does one deal with an enemy unseen, in a space that has no access?

Last week, it was quiet for a few days. Maybe our banging and thumping against the wall had encouraged this bold visitor to move out?


This week, as soon as I turned the key arriving home from work, the chomping had resumed, with added crunching intensity. I imagine the stealthy creature, crowbar in hand, remodeling the space to suit his wishes. In the 2 weeks that we’ve been charmed by its presence, it seems to be moving higher, toward the wall behind the upstairs bathroom.

I rap loudly against the wall beneath him and scream at the invisible gnawing monster in a high-pitched voice, stamping my feet in an effort to rattle him.
Now he’s approaching Fred’s territory, and Fred had better wake up hungry.

I don’t wish to be greeted in the bathroom one night—by its beady little eyes.

House as seen from
Sidewalk going Nowhere

(to be continued here)

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Threadspider said...

I've got a feeling I know what's in there-and I wouldn't like it either. In fact if it's the same thing we had, we got someone in to deal with the problem. I waiting with baited -no pun intended-breath. Glorious post.

robin andrea said...

Thank you for stopping by the Dharma Bums and leaving such a lovely comment. I am happy I stopped by here to say hello. Your posts are so lovingly written. I like what you see when you look around your world.

Good luck with your friend behind the wall.

cestoady said...

CONGRATULATIONS !!!I___ In checking why your Bloggy Award logo shield sprouted a bump this morning ,I found that you have won the Blog Olympics (of sorts) for January. Getting a GOLD in an international field of some 15 blogs is pretty cool. Its encouraging to see that the simple elegance of your posts is recognized at the highest levels.

As for that pesky, mysterious visitor in your walls,obviously it has the same good taste in a dwelling the you have. But what is the beast ????

SLW said...

Thanks for stopping by this morning, Nina, and for your kind comments... I so admire your writing and your keen observations-- nice to have discovered your blog.

As for the critters, it seems for them it's a "sidewalk going somewhere," into your house! Yes, what IS this critter? Do tell...

zhakee said...

Your words so eloquently describe the sounds of a rodent happily chewing through your insulation and maybe even the wires. Human houses make such nice habitats for rodents with all the insulation, and crumbs, and total protection from predators. The one time I find myself resorting to not sharing space with critters is when the wild things cause trouble indoors.

April said...

An idyllic spot - looks very peaceful. I hope you find a solution to your "rodent" problem soon.

Rebecca Clayton said...

In my experience, Rattus norvegicus goes straight for the kitchen--none of this roving gnawing. You know you've got 'em when you see a whole loaf of bread disappear down a big hole near floor level.

We get flying squirrels and deer mice cavorting in the walls upstairs. Eventually, they either give up or run afoul of Princess. They make a lot of noise for such delicate rodents. Maybe that's the point.

Our biggest problem is ground hogs gnawing the floor joist (perhaps looking for salt?).

Adele / Sittingfox said...

Hi, nice to read your blog! You have an amazing amount of wildlife around you. We have very few reptile species in the UK for geographical reasons and it's great to read about Fred and the other snakes!

Birding Scott said...

Yikes! You might want to think about setting some traps! I would be a little unsettled too!

Q said...

I love your house and location!
Dirt roads and sidewalks that lead into the wild are inviting.
You will find your visitor soon I expect. Is relocation a possibility?

mon@rch said...

The first year I live in the house I am currently in, I live trapped (reloated 15 miles away) 9 flying squirrels within 3 nights. It was a very long 3 nights and once they were all gone I blocked there holes!! I have never slept better! Although, even after relocating those 9, I heard many others landing on the roof of my house trying to get inside!

Mary said...

Oh, my. I've been enjoying this series about your home, Nina! But - your gnawing creature must go! We had mice above our bedrooms that drove me nuts at night. If I heard remodeling going on... Oh, my!

Chris said...

You've painted a beautiful picture of the property! Good luck with your varmint! We had a family of raccoons in our attic, it was really hard to get rid of them!

Susan Gets Native said...

Jeez, Nina. Your posts about this "visitor" gave me a nightmare last night...we were in your house and the walls were crumbling because of all the critters in them. Yikes.
Come on, Fred! Save Nina (and me!).

Pixel-Pixie said...

Hello -
You have a real talent for evoking the atmosphere around you, both in images and in words...I'm really enjoying browsing through your blog - it's fun to think I am doing a similar thing with my blog, but on a completely different continent, half way across the world!
Best wishes,
Tanya (in Kenya)

nina said...

threadspider--a raccoon with a tool belt?

Robin Andrea--Thanks for the good wishes

Cestoady--yes, the gols was a nice surprise for me this morning--My life seems to be about surprises lately--of all sorts!

slw--yes, that sidewalk seems to invite them in, kind of creepy, huh?

zhakee--I agree, as animal-friendly as we are, our house can not be theirs!

April--I hope so, too, my husband is going "exploring" very soon!

Rebecca--I hadn't thought of woodchucks...but they're excavating under the garage...and I know they climb better than most realize....I've met some very unfriendly characters in my garden...

adele--Fred is worth his weight in gold!

Scott--I hope I have a trap big enough...

Q--relocation of us or him? :-)

Monarch--flying squirrels...hmmm..we may have them here, too...I'd love to find a TREE somewhere!

Mary--it's my imagination that's making this ten times worse--he's probably the size of my fist, but he sounds bigger than I am!

Chris--we had raccoons in our porch a couple years ago, too--they're smart...and determined buggers!

Susan--You came to visit? Great! We don't get much company....can't figure out why! And Fred's well-behaved....

Tanya--great to see you! Your life is the WILD one!

Crayons said...

The house and land are beautiful. You notice more details than many, I'm sure. I lived in a house like this two years ago, and I relate to your insistance that humans are in, and critters are out.

I'm so sorry about your unwelcome guest.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Beautiful, heartwarming post with lovely photos!!!

I have been greeted in the bathroom with beady eyes. My husband had to close in around the pipes.

Hugs, JJ

Sandpiper said...

In our old house in the woods, we had field mice, baby squirrels, bats, and even a skunk that got into the house! What fun... NOT. ;-)

Dorothy said...

Oh Nina, I hope you can get to the bottom of this mystery soon!
Your photos are enchanting, as are the words you chose for them.
You have a beautiful blog!

T.R. said...

All that glitter is GOLD! Congratulations -- I've been keeping tabs on the others and knew you had to be a shoo-in.

Now, dying to know what lives in that unseen inbetwixt place of your life. Any ideas?

kate said...

Hi Nina,

Sidewalks going nowhere are the most wonderful ones. I love the idea that one can then explore or take any path they want to. Your surroundings fit so well with the house. (I like the dark green interior wall!)

I had a mouse family living inside a wall - they made a terrific amount of noise at night - my poor cats at the time were besides themselves. Eventually we set traps and got rid of them. I wish you the best at ridding your house of them.

Eco Enthusiast said...

Nina--we had something similar a few years ago and turned out to be flying squirrels. They're still up there but for some reason, they don't bother me as much. If you decide to go up in the attic to clean it up or seal the holes, be sure to wear a mask and gloves. A friend of ours cleaned his attic after he got rid of the flying squirrels and got bubonic plaque! He ended up in the hospital for a few days. That's scarier than the noise.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Don't rule out gray squirrel. I had one that chewed all night for a week straight at a tin cover to a stovepipe hole. This was when I lived in a converted chicken house in Connecticut. It was horrifying, and so loud that I couldn't sleep. I finally trapped him in a livetrap when he came outside and took him across the river. I will confess to doing a war-whoop and impromptu dance in front of him when I finally caught him!