Friday, December 8, 2017

the brief yet terrifying residency of the squirrel

Last night Molly decided to be very awake between the hours of 10 pm and midnight, and no amount of nursing or patting or rocking or hushing was having any effect whatsoever.

I was less frustrated than I might have otherwise been, however, because I was thanking God there wasn't a squirrel flying about my bedroom.

Because -- oh yes -- the previous night, that was what we were dealing with, and I'll take a crying baby any day over a squirrel in the house.

Wednesday evening I was practicing my violin in the music room when Nathan wandered in to say hello and listen for a minute.  Suddenly there was a flapping of wings and a bat was in the room with us, having slipped in through an indiscernibly small crack in the ceiling.  Fortunately for us, the bat soon found its way back out and Nathan sealed the crack.

Unfortunately for us, as it turned out, the bat was a mere harbinger of things to come.

Shortly before 10 pm I tucked into bed, transferring Molly (who is currently the world's worst sleeper) from the carrier I had her in into bed beside me.  I took off my glasses and closed my eyes, breathed a tired sigh, and heard... scuffle, scratch, scuffle, scurry.

Now, we have had issues with animals inside the walls of our house running about, which is less than ideal, but this sounded more distinctive.  My fears were confirmed when I saw a figure dart across Nathan's dresser and then over the window frame onto my dresser.   I reached for my glasses and my phone simultaneously and called Nathan, who was still downstairs, in a hushed voice so as not to wake Molly.  "There's an animal up here, and it's ... not inside the walls ... anymore."

He came upstairs to our attic bedroom, and it didn't take us long to discern that it was a squirrel.  It sat in a corner, on top of a few storage boxes, and looked at us with big, big eyes.  Those big eyes on that tiny body gave me cause for concern about just what kind of squirrel we were dealing with, but only time would tell.

The squirrel hopped into an empty box, and as I urged Nathan to throw a lid on it, he paused for a bit to rationally consider every eventuality of the scenario.  By the time he was moving for the lid, the squirrel was out again and on the run.  It ran from corner to corner along the knee walls of the attic, behind our shelves.  We heard it scurrying amongst wrapping paper and tissue paper, across boxes, along the walls.

Nathan headed down to the basement to get the Havahart trap we have, while I stood guard over the sleeping baby.  He set the trap with nut butter (which we've had good success with before) and set it down along the edge of the wall.  In no time at all the squirrel was sitting right on top of that trap - not going in - defying us to catch it with its beady, gleaming eyes.  We were watching all the activity with the flashlights on our phones all this time, keeping the overhead lights off, as Molly slept through the scurrying and scuffling and hushed whispers between myself and Nathan.

Then the squirrel sprung the trap!  But it wasn't inside.  Nathan re-set it.  The trap sprung again, and this time I saw the squirrel inside.  Victory was ours!

Humans = 1, Squirrel = 0!

But wait - the squirrel was gone.  Apparently small squirrels are extremely collapsible and can fit through the 1" holes in our trap.  Fabulous.  We needed another idea.

Nathan set a large rat trap, and we waited.

Along about this time, Nathan began to try to convince me that it wasn't such a big deal, and we should go to bed.  I was whispering frantically that we could not simply sleep with a squirrel on the loose who might run across our faces or scurry across the body of my sleeping babe at any moment.

"You joke that you love the patriarchy!  This is your moment!  Be the man of the house and DO SOMETHING!" I whispered.

"I haven't heard it in a while.  I think maybe it went back out however it came in."

"You think?"

"I'm pretty sure."

"What percentages are we talking?"

"70-80 percent sure."

"Maybe Molly and I will go sleep in the guest room."

"Ok.  I'm going to sleep."

"But what if the squirrel runs downstairs to Nell or Ree's room?  I won't hear things if I'm all the way on the first floor guest room.  I have to stay here to be able to hear them and keep watch over everybody!"

"Ok, babe.  Do what you gotta do.  I'm going to sleep."

"Don't go to sleep!  DO something!"

"I've set the trap.  You clearly don't understand the fine art of trapping animals.  You have to be patient.  You have to wait quietly.  Go to sleep."

{I suppose the man had a point.  He had done everything he could do and there was no way of physically catching the fellow with our bare hands, after all.}

Apparently the prominent "Sleepers, Wake!" theme woven through the first Sunday of Advent was utterly lost on some people.

I lay wide awake for a while, and after indeed not hearing any evidence of activity for quite some time, drifted off to sleep around 1:00 am.

Around 4:30 Molly woke to nurse, and as I lay there only half awake nursing her back to sleep, the most horrible thing I could imagine became a reality.

The squirrel ran across my body.  It ran over the duvet, right across my shoulders, and then back down off the bed.  I give myself infinite credit in the situation because I did not scream.  I did, however, kick Nathan and whisper, "IT JUST RAN ACROSS ME.  WAKE UP AND DO SOMETHING!"

It would be an overstatement to say that Nathan sprang into action, but eventually he awoke and got to his feet.  Somehow having him vertical made me feel better than being horizontal.  Perhaps his height would intimidate the squirrel right out of there.

It was along about now that my fears came to fruition, as the squirrel ran up a wall over a window and then flew, yes, flew, across the room over our heads.  Of course!  Having a squirrel in your house in the middle of the night wouldn't be sufficiently horrifying; of course ours had to be a flying squirrel.  I told you I had a bad feeling about those big, big eyes.

The demonic squirrel was no longer keeping to the perimeters and far corners.  It was emboldened now, flying from wall to wall, scampering straight across the floor out in the open, running across the bed once more while I sat there, paralyzed.  It moved so quickly I was afraid to grab the baby and leave the room -- what if it ran across my bare feet?  What if I stepped on it?  What if it flew on my head?  I felt frozen and staying in one place seemed like a reasonable idea, guarding the baby and supervising the husband.  Nathan opened both windows a few inches and we began to pray that the squirrel would find its way out.  It scampered up a pipe, flew across to a wall, jumped and flew onto the brick exposed chimney, and sat there, a couple of yards away from my head, looking at me with those wicked gleaming eyes.  In that moment I am not ashamed to say that I hated that squirrel and wanted destruction to rain down on its head.

The squirrel scurried across our dressers once more and ran up the wall and across the window.  "COME ON, STUPID SQUIRREL!" we both whisper-urged it, "GO OUT THE WINDOW!"  It darted up to the ceiling and flew back across the room, zooming over my head while I cowered slightly.  I must admit to a slight whimpering sound escaping my throat at one point.  I was reaching the end of my ability to cope.

After several more minutes of scampering and flying about, around 5:15 am the squirrel finally found its way out the window.  More accurately, it found its way half way out the window, at which point Nathan took a chance and ran at it, yelling "BAAAAAHHH!"  It worked -- the squirrel wriggled the rest of the way out, and Nathan slammed the window behind it.

Peace reigned at last.  Our nerves were frayed and my skin was crawling, but we had survived.

The sun rose on a new day, and despite having had a total of just a couple hours of sleep all night, I found a surge of energy to wash our bedding and any clothing not contained within a dresser drawer.

I contemplated setting fire to the attic, but doing several loads of laundry seemed a more judicious decision.

What is the weirdest part of this experience?  That our house is ridden with rodents and other vermin?  That my husband thinks an appropriate expectation is to sleep through the situation?

No, I say the strangest part of all is that nine month old Molly, who cannot sleep through her own slight coughs or burps, who cannot sleep through being transferred from arms to crib, who cannot take a nap exceeding 30 minutes in length... well, that baby slept through the whole event like a, well...

... like a baby.

{Someone else's baby.  The kind of baby who sleeps.}

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness, what a harrowing experience! I can imagine my husband reacting similarly...and myself, the same as you. ;) I'm glad you finally got him out!