I find myself peering out the back windows into the woods, examining every rain-darkened stump or rock, wondering if it was there before or if it’s my friend the bear thinking about a return visit. Or if not my friend, then one of his buddies. In short I am jumpy.
Then I walk down the hall and my peripheral vision catches sight of a nice size bear cub sitting on the guest bed. And I really jump. Except the bear cub is just a rather good-looking stuffed toy that The Hunter set up there to keep The Moose amused while his diaper is changed.
I calm down and go about my business, but the next time I pass the room, I jump just as high. The third time I put the stuffed bear back in the toy box.
Today, as my cleaning lady was leaving, I told her the bear story – partly because I knew she would be sympathetic as she lives in a very rural place where bears are a nuisance, and partly because her husband is both a hunter and a taxidermist, and partly, just because.
Then she told me the story of a high school friend of hers who a few years ago had to get his shotgun and blast a bear who was aggressively tearing through the screen door, trying to get into his house.
The Hunter said: “I remember hearing about that.”
I didn’t say anything because I was remembering this entry in my journal:
May 28, 2016: About 7:45 this morning I was minding my own business, checking email, having a cup of tea and thinking I needed to get dressed if I was going to make it to 9:00 a.m. Mass and then a 10:00 meeting.
You know how it is when you are familiar with the sounds of your house. You know what it sounds like when the mail truck goes by, you know what it sounds like when someone is walking up the driveway or coming in off the porch. I became aware of a sound like someone was approaching, but in an odd way and I couldn’t tell the direction. I got up and started for the kitchen door. It was already quite warm and the door was open. If I looked right I could see down the driveway. If I looked left, I could see down the short hall, through the screen door and out to the back porch.
Just as I got to the door, a squirrel dashed passed me, into the kitchen, over the counter, touched down on the dining room floor, sprang up to the window, only to be foiled by the screen, landed back on the floor, circled the chair in the corner, landing on it once, bounced back to the window and over the counter, onto the kitchen floor and then shot out of the kitchen into the rest of the house, but I couldn’t tell if it headed down the hall or into the living room.
Stunned doesn’t perhaps quite express my feelings. Neither does surprised. Or even simply pissed. It was a combination of those, with probably the emphasis on pissed. I barely tolerate squirrels in the back yard. They are forbidden the porch. I never formulated my thoughts about them in the house because it never seemed to be a possibility.
Being barefoot, and in my nightgown and robe made me feel a little vulnerable, as in I didn’t want it running over my foot or worse, biting it. I wasn’t quite sure what to do, so I did what any red-blooded female would: I called for a man. Luckily The Hunter is on speed dial.
By the time he answered, I had located the intruder on the curtain rod in the living room. The Hunter said, “While you are waiting for me to get there, open the window in the dining room, as well as the front door. Maybe it will run out.”
I said are you crazy? There are all its cousins and brothers launching themselves from the bush to the dining room screen to get at the feeder. They will launch right through the window. And out front there is a whole colony of chipmunks who like to sit on the front steps and look in. They’ll be joining the party. And I hung up, telling him to hurry.
I sat down on the stairs to keep an eye on the varmint. I didn’t want him getting upstairs and lost in a bedroom. And while I waited, I envisioned squirrel pee on everything. Or possibly squirrel poop.
The Hunter arrived and got the pellet gun.
The conversation went like this:
“Well, I can shoot it.”
For the second time that morning I said to him: “Are you crazy? There’ll be a gouge in the wall, which we’ve just had patched and repainted. And there will be blood on the curtains, to say nothing of squirrel poop and squirrel pee. And then I’ll have to get the curtains cleaned, but what I’ll really want to do is throw them out.”
There was a sigh. Then: “Let me get a broom. And you open up the front door.”
If the MLB isn’t interested in him, The Hunter really should be scouted for some Cricket Club. On the first stroke, he sent that squirrel flying so that it bounced once and ran directly out the door. No dings in the wall and the curtain rod stayed put. Also no ominous dark patches or dark pellets. A home run.
You would think having this experience in getting wildlife out of the house without incident would give me some confidence. It doesn’t. I am not really sure, should a bear decide to take advantage of the gaps in the screen door or even make some of his own, that a broom would be the answer.
And so I am as jumpy as ever.