For at least a couple of months, I've heard this scritch-scratching noise late at night and early in the morning. Actually, now that I think about it, the scritch-scratching was preceded by the sound of something kind of running up and down the front walk of the house, brushing up against the house as it went. The scritch-scratching has been more recent and has been right outside the window of my room...or, as I was starting to believe in the wall. One night, not so long ago, I activated the motion lights outside, just to see if I could see what was causing the noise. Light went on, noise stopped. At least I could sleep.
Friday morning the scritch-scratching woke me up at about 5am. I was not amused. Papa Bear and I had lunch that day and I mentioned the noise. Saturday morning it woke me up at 5am again. Grrrr... Saturday night, just as I was trying to go to sleep it started AGAIN! I lay in bed, listening intently trying to get an idea of where the noise was. I tapped on the walls, the noise continued. I got out a flashlight and made sure there was nothing actually UNDER my bed. Then I went outside as quiet as I could be to see if I could locate the noise. I opened the screen door, which always activates the automatic lights, but still the scritch-scratching continued. I put one foot out the door onto the walkway, causing the boards to shift and bump and the scritch-scratching stopped! Ah-ha! There was no dealing with it at that time of night though. Better to wait til daylight.
So Sunday dawned bright and beautiful. I was up at out of the house just past the crack of dawn, as usual for one who works for a church, and didn't think much of the thing under the walkway. When I got home, I noticed that Papa Bear had started to loosen one of the walk way boards, so I decided to move it off and see if I could see anything under that portion by my window. I moved that board and the next thing I saw was this rodent body peek out and dash back under the rest of the walkway. "AH-HA! A mouse!" is what I thought.
I quickly relayed the news to Papa Bear, who was busy inside dealing with the flying termites. He would get to it later. I went about my good Sunday business...laundry and cleaning.
I was vacuuming later when the house phone rang. We rarely answer the phone anymore, the proliferation of automated health care calls and "You are invited to the Macy's grand sale today only calls." have driven us to cringe in fear whenever the phone rings. So in strict adherence to the avoidance of the phone calls, I let the machine pick up. Then I heard in whispered tones "Brittany, the mouse, Brittany come outside. Hello, hello, Brittany." It was Papa Bear calling from his cell phone from right outside my room.
Opening the front door I peered out at Papa Bear standing just a few feet away with a square nosed shovel in hand. Boards from the walkway were haphazardly strewn around him. "It's right under here. He's big too!" Papa Bear said. "If you get a broom and scare it this way, I will get him." Now, my dear Internet friends, this is where my compassion for little furry animals started to give way. I knew what that shovel was for. I have witnessed Papa Bear reach for the square-nosed shovel on the occasions where the rattlesnake was in the driveway. I knew that the little furry animal under the deck was going to meet a painful end and I really didn't want to see it. But I am a good girl, I do what my Dad asks...and truthfully, I was done with the scritch-scratching at 5am.
I retreated into the house for my shoes, stepped out the front door, retrieved the broom and moved just to where the walkway meets the deck when I heard "There he is!". When I thought about the end of the rodent, I didn't think about the sounds of protest the rodent would make. Ugh. But there we were, me facing away, so as not to see anything and Papa Bear and the rodent in battle. Papa Bear shifted and all of sudden the rodent had gotten free. Now, at this moment I was standing at the open edge of the walkway and a memory flashed through my mind. It was evening time, down in Anaheim. Opinionated Friend and I were walking along a slightly darkened pathway near the House of the Mouse when out of the bushes on one side of us a rat appears and runs, right in front of us, grazing Opinionated Friends foot...which was pretty amazing because neither of her feet were on the ground at that moment.
Momma's and G.G.'s favorite swear word...that's pretty much what I was thinking too.
With no broken bones or snakebites, I was dispatched to retrieve the cordless drill...which really, I think, was Papa Bear's kind way of giving me something to do while he dispensed of rodent number 2...and upon returning found that the rodents had built a nest of epic proportions right under the walkway we walk over every single day. With rodent number 2 eliminated, the search was on for the severely wounded rodent number 1. The walkway was taken up, nest removed, cement underneath sprayed down (the smell was nasty), de-con was placed, rodent number 1 was still not found. Papa Bear looked under the deck (and retrieved the broken board) but rodent number 1 had eluded us.
As we were putting everything back together and cleaning up, I finally asked what kind of rodent it was. My heavy heart was so sad for the mouse that I thought I had aided in offing. Papa Bear, though, was kind enough to report the rodents were rats! Two big ones! One pregnant. The sadness evaporated, my guilty feelings ebbed, the mystery was solved.
Rat number 1 is still missing. Papa Bear is confident that he was severely wounded though. If he does come back, there is some nice tasting de-con waiting for him to snack on but no nest to sleep in. As for the deck, well, we are supposed to be tearing it out and rebuilding it anyway...I just helped it along a little.
And that, my friends, is the tale of a Father and Daughter adventure on Mother's Day. Where was, Yo Momma, you ask? In a hot tub in Iowa after a 60 mile bike ride...just where she wanted to be.