For Mother’s Day, my daughters bought me gift certificates to a local garden center, and yesterday I went to buy plants for my gardens and for containers. Because of the shadiness of the yard at the little house in the big woods, I am very limited as to what I can buy, not only for the gardens but also to put in pots. Never mind. I have learned to love what thrives here—begonias, impatiens, and coleus. (Surely there is a lesson in this somewhere.) My front garden even has a relatively moist spot for astilbe, which I never had to learn to love. I was smitten with them from the very start. And, lucky me, snapdragons thrive here. How I admire those jaunty flowers, and I always buy the dwarf variety to put on the edge of the back garden. I also bought herbs and one tomato plant—the fair Juliet, which does well in part sun and part shade.
Even though I knew what I wanted, I spent a happy hour or so looking at the various plants and flowers at the garden center. With the back of the car full of plants and flowers, I headed home, happy and content.
However, as soon as I got home and saw Clif just standing in the dining room, I knew something wasn’t right. When he came out to help me with the flowers, he looked glum, and I knew for sure something was wrong.
“What happened?” I asked.
“There might be a squirrel in the house?”
“What do you mean there might be?”
“Well, I was working in my office, and the cats chased one into the room. It ran into the closet, and I had the devil of a time getting it out.”
“Then what happened?”
“It ran out of my office, and I haven’t seen it since. Maybe it went back outside.”
“Maybe,” I said, hopeful but not convinced. Nothing is ever that easy.
But the squirrel could have found its way back outside. On nice days, we leave the cellar door open so that the dog and cats can go in and out as they please. In twelve years of doing so, this is the first time we have had a squirrel come into the house.
“Was it a red squirrel?” I asked.
“I think so,” Clif answered.
A red squirrel! Those fierce little bundles of Tasmanian-devil aggression and energy. A while back, one got into the house of a friend when she was away, and it did so much damage trying to get out that her whole house had to be remodelled.
“I wonder if homeowners insurance covers squirrel damage,” I said.
“Probably,” Clif replied.
Hoping that it wouldn’t get to that point, we poked around the house and looked for the squirrel. Nothing. Eventually, like the cats, we gave up looking for it. Maybe it had gone back outside.
But a little later, when I was out on the patio, I heard Clif call, “It’s in the dining room!” I went down cellar, grabbed a broom, and headed upstairs to help Clif.
“Where is it?” I asked.
“Behind the bookcase with the cook books,” Clif said, nudging it with the broom he was holding.
The little creature leaped onto the window sill, and “That’s not a squirrel!” I exclaimed. “That’s a chipmunk!”
As a rule, I am not a huge fan of rodents. I am not afraid of them—all right, big rats do freak me out—and I wish them no harm. I just want them to stay outside where they belong. However, I must admit I have a soft spot for chipmunks, those mild, unassuming but very cute rodents who, as a rule, never try to come inside. (My theory is that the cats chased this one inside.) When I saw this chipmunk, I smiled, and the dread I was feeling went away. I knew we would be able to get this little creature back outside.
“Open the dining room door,” I said, and Clif did so.
Taking the broom, he nudged the chipmunk, and I stood with my broom, blocking the way to the rest of the house. The chipmunk leaped from the window sill, and glory hallelujah, it rushed out the open door.
“Success!” I yelled. “Chalk one up for team Clif and Laurie.”
Such are the goings-on at the little house in the big woods. We have our moments of failure, but we also have our moments of triumph.
Now, let us hope there are no more cat and rodent shenanigans for the rest of the summer.