The gap at the base of my cabin door was a solid 4 inches, so any manner of creepers freely came and went from my living space. Windowpanes… who needs em? Gimme an uncovered hole in the wall where wasps, hummingbirds, sparrows, etc can aviate in at their leisure. In the beginning, it was cute: the lizards, the beetles, the birds that would swoop in as I sat at my desk. I felt like Cinderella with her menagerie of woodland pets, and my co-wrangler Jenny and I proudly deflected the taunting we received for our refusal to off the mice now living in our rooms.
As a joke, some of the camp counselors gave us the mother of all mousetraps, hefty enough to snap the neck of a cat. We snickered at their jest but remained stalwart in our commitment not to kill the creatures among us. Rustic cabin dwelling was pleasant for a time, but things soon took a turn. Some rodent thing chewed a hole through a plastic bin in my room, hellbent on devouring a bar of soap and nibbling leaking holes into my shampoo bottle. Small holes were gnawed in my clothes and I awakened each morning to find my white sheets covered in little black specks… something shitting all over me as I slept.
One summer night I shall never forget, I was awaked by the unmistakable shriek of a woman being murdered. Jolted erect I scrambled in the dark for the light switch, ran to the sound of the screams and found Jenny clutching her hair while rocking and sobbing on her bed. “What the hell happened?” I demanded. Through hiccuping, gasping tears she managed to tell me she was awakened by the sound of something chewing on her hair in her ear. A packrat.
Traumatized, she climbed into bed with me and was just beginning to calm down when the crashing and scurrying began. Something huge knocked stuff over on my desk and I switched on the lights to find the fattest bastard of a packrat blinking back at me with what appeared to be the human emotion of glee. It was so close I could have reached out and patted its fat rodent head, but instead Jenny and I just bellowed in horror.
Obviously high on shampoo, the packrat pinged off of every surface in the room while we death-gripped each other like terrified orphans. When we could scream no longer, I rose. “Jenny, it’s time.” She nodded tearfully and I moved toward the shelf where the foot-long mousetrap lay in wait. Propping open the door with a rock, I flicked on the porch light and cocked the trap in the center of the doorway using a shaving of soap as bait.
We waited. Less than a minute passed before the packrat popped the trap and its ball-bearing eyes bugged out from the impact. The rodent beast was dead. Shaken, we crawled back into bed and as I moved to turn off the lights I caught a flurry of movement above my head. The origin of my nightly shit dusting? Bats. Dozens of them careening above me night after night, sprinkling my face with their turds.
I love the nature and the wilds and the creatures, but I draw the line when they chew on my hair and crap in my open sleeping mouth.