(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.
(to be continued here)