BY JEAN MARIE JOHNSON
I can’t say that I wasn’t forewarned. “There are creatures in the attic, flying squirrels and mice and such. But they’ve never gotten into the house.” Grateful for the unlimited use of a delightful cottage in the woods overlooking a tranquil lake – I considered the little creatures part of the charm. At least in the beginning.
I quickly realized that my four-legged roommates were a force to be reckoned with. Tumbling and careening on the bare wooden rafters overhead, I wondered How many were there? It sounded like a circus convention for four-legged acrobats and the shenanigans went on night after noisy night. Since the acrobats seemed to prefer the space over the bedroom, I claimed the settee in the kitchen-living area as my own.
Steve reassured me that he was taking swift action. And, true to his word, I saw the tell-tale ladder and trap, evidence of the animal control guy having been there while I was at work. Great! Tonight they will find themselves cut off at the pass. But unbeknownst to me, the fun was just about to begin…
As night descended upon the still lake, I settled in for my evening reading and the acrobats made their way back “home.” By-passing the trap, they went straight for the rafters, noisier than before, frantic, it seemed to me. Suddenly, I heard a loud crashing sound and realized that the trap was working after all. Between the periodic crash of the trap and the careening in the rafters, I knew I was in for a long, restless night. Little did I know what a night it would be.
I suddenly sprung upright. It sounded as if one of the flying creatures was in the house itself. Oh, no….!!!! I tiptoed gingerly toward the back bedroom, took a quick peek and slammed the door shut. Must be my over-worked imagination. But no, I hear it. I drew the door open about an inch and saw a squirrel climbing on the inside of the bedroom window. In a flash, he jumped to the windowsill, faster than my eye could follow. My heart flew to my throat and I slammed the door.
Reaching for my cell phone, I dialed 911. “There is a squirrel in my bedroom. I need help.” “Ma’am, where are you?” the calm voice inquired. My phone went dead. Twenty very long minutes later, having attempted a speedy battery recharge, I reached the voice again. “It’s the Squirrel Lady, and I’m at 94 Mountain Road. Please send someone. I squished a throw rug against the bedroom door and waited.
Finally, a vehicle creeps up the pitch-black road and I wave my arms in front of the large window. An appropriately hulk-like man casually swaggers in. I take him to the barricaded door. We look in. “I don’t see anything.” “He’s right there, on the bookshelf,” “Oh, yeah,” he chuckles. Well, here’s the number to Animal Control.” “Animal Control? Can’t you get him out of here?” “ No, ma’am. I’m sorry, but I can’t.” He leaves.
It’s 1:15 a.m. I decide to sit it out until daybreak.
Suddenly, there’s a creaking sound RIGHT OVER MY HEAD. I look up. A squirrel is circulating on the overhead ceiling fan as though it were a carnival ride. I had half a mind to turn that sucker on high, just to see how he’d enjoy a high-speed version of the ride. “You stay right there and don’t even think about coming down. Just stay there!” With my eyes on him, I reached for my belongings and he obeyed.
It was now after 2 a.m. I opened the door to the cottage and was greeted by a poorly-tuned chorus of squirrel-hostages all crammed together in the trap. My God, just how many were there???? I threw my things into my car and proceeded carefully down the pitch-black mountain road.
There was only one place to go at this hour: the police station. Shamelessly, I walk in. “It’s the Squirrel Lady. She says they’re spinning around on the ceiling fan.”
I spent the next three hours sitting on an orange vinyl chair in a brightly lit room, eagerly awaiting the break of day and a very strong cup of coffee.