The springtime invasion

Marcy O’Brien

For the second time in the fourteen years I’ve lived in this house, we have a mouse. I saw him a few weeks ago – in one fleeting dash behind the den sofa.

Finian, our year-old Maine Coon feline, has yet to prove himself a hunter. He’s more of a playground instructor . . . “c’ mon, c’ mon let’s run laps around the dining room, leap on the mantel and knock pictures off all the tables.” A mouse would be merely a companion or just another toy to Finian – one with more moving parts than his stuffed ones. At least that’s my take on his laid back approach to his household responsibilities. To his credit, he has spent many nights crouched in sentry mode in front of the stove but he needs to show more initiative to catch this particular mouse. We have had two kinds of traps in three rooms – for four weeks. This is one rascally, resistant rodent.

We have continued to hear scrinchy, scrunchy noises in the nighttime, but no sightings.

So it was no surprise when I heard a crash in the front hall, a few bangs against the hot water baseboard and a lot of scrambling noises.

“Aha,” I yelled to Richard. Finian finally got that mouse!”

I hot-footed it to the hall and stopped in the doorway. Finian was in full attack mode in the corner. He was hopping around the narrow legs of the plant stand, repeatedly pulling back then skulking forward, swiping at the corner. Suddenly a tail, a brownish-red, fuzzy tail, stood up in the corner. Definitely not the appendage of a mouse. Then it swayed. Finian was going crazy.

Dear Richard rounded the corner. “It’s a chipmunk!” he roared.

Now before you read any further I must state a disclaimer. What follows is adult content containing violence, profanity, and nudity. It is not suitable for the faint of heart, members of PETA or any of our world’s devout Buddhists, all of whom ascribe to the sanctity of life. If you are a member of any of the aforementioned groups, please discontinuing reading and turn to the Diversion Section of this paper.

I hate chipmunks.

I am a gardener. All gardeners hate chipmunks. They eat our plants, dig holes and tunnels, and undermine garden beds, foundations, walls, and steps.

I learned years ago that removing them from the property and delivering them to a remote outpost at least two or three miles away, only slowed them down. They pro-created at the drop-off spot and beat their way back here just in time to deliver the new litter.

I researched on Google. Chipmunks deliver average litters of four to five babies in both spring and summer. As a gardener, I’ve spent years fighting them and finally resorted to doing away with their populous villages by many methods – not to be discussed here.

Back to the front hall. I watched squeamishly as the skittering bushy tail tried to bolt from the corner, occasionally getting past Finian, before he ran into Richards right loafer. Richard, shoe in hand, took a few swings at the speedy little devil, finishing him off on whack number four. He took the limp critter outside and into the bushes before I had to view him. “Oh, thank God,” I said.

“It wasn’t a chipmunk,” the Great White Hunter announced. “It was a small red squirrel.” Aaaaaacckk! Even worse, I thought. Chipmunks undermine your yard but one of these little rotters will eat your wiring and burn the house down. Good riddance.

I consoled Finian for a few minutes and headed for the bathroom. Returning a few minutes later, I came back into the hall to check on our kitty to be greeted by a streaking critter running at me, over my shoe and continuing on into the master bath. “RICHARD!!!!!!” was the loud shriek.

“What, what, what?” as he leaped up from the sofa.

“It’s another one . . . he went into the bathroom”

He entered with a shoe in one hand closing the door behind him. Thump, Crash. Bang. Thump, thump, thump. Big crash. Thump, thump. Omigod.

Finally, Dear Richard exited the bathroom with the dead prey in his outside hand so I wouldn’t have to see him. He joined his brother in crime underneath the rhododendrons . . . and in the great hereafter.

I cleaned up the blood in the bathroom, put the broken towel rack together and called a repairman to fix the hole in the wall. But hey, #2 was where he needed to be – GONE.

All this mayhem happened so fast that we merely reacted. Oh, and by the way, to complete the details of the violence, no humans were injured during these incidents. And the nudity wasn’t us – it was the shameless squirrels.

I hope that two red squirrels are the extent of the invasion. In case we’ve only encountered half the resident tribe, I Googled red squirrel info on 10 ways to rid your house of them.

First rule: Remain Calm. Yeah, right.

Second rule: Separate them from your pets. I can’t imagine trying to separate any invading creature from Finian the Inquisitive.

Third rule: Give them a way out – an open door for example. What? Let the cat out and the chipmunks in? I didn’t bother with the other seven rules.

A few days have passed and I haven’t heard loud scratching or seen any quick-moving lowlifes. And it appears the mouse might have finally found his way out now that springtime is offering more edibles. Free at last from the invading marauders.

There were ants in Finian’s food dish this morning.

Marcy O’Brien, retired Executive Director of the award-winning Struthers Library Theatre, is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.