Living With Nature...Indoors
by: Carrie Noble
My in-laws’ owned a “historic home.” A hundred years ago—maybe even fifty—it must have been spectacular. The exterior: three stories of red brick, topped with multiple chimneys and a slate-tiled roof. Inside: well-crafted woodwork, multiple fireplaces, tall windows framed by tasseled curtains, and a majestic staircase.
By the late 1990’s, the place needed some serious work. Functional central heat would have been nice, for example.
Its upstairs apartment was supposed to be temporary housing for my family, but we ended up staying for nine loooonnnnnng years. We arrived with one kid and left with four!
You know how mankind has slowly overtaken forests and fields, shoving Nature aside? Well, I think that was what was happening there…in reverse: Nature trying to reclaim its territory.
Exhibit one: Squirrel Bowling Leagues. In the attic above our bed on the third floor, squirrel bowling was the “in” sport. They must have used jumbo walnuts as balls—they made so much racket. I think they had a bar up there, too, because sometimes we heard them brawling and swearing in Squirrelese.
Once, a member of the league must have made a wrong turn and ended up in our bathroom. Sad to say, after Mr. Squirrel tangled with my husband and a boot, he never bowled again (unless they bowl in Squirrel Heaven).
My mother-in-law also relied upon my husband’s skills as an amateur exterminator when uninvited bat houseguests flitted through her region of Wildlife Manor (not its real name). My husband wasn’t much of a tennis player, but he could backhand a bat like Martina Navratilova.
And then there were the snakes.
One day, I watched in horror as a blacksnake climbed up a brick wall to a ledge under the edge of the roof. Snakey proceeded to lunch on baby birds, despite my fervent prayers for him to fall down and die. (Did you know snakes can scale walls? That’s just wrong!)
I found a baby snake in our bathroom once. I screamed, slammed the door, and waited for my husband to get home. By then, it had vanished. No one ever went to the bathroom without turning on the lights after that.
Snakes also liked to frequent my mother-in-law’s kitchen downstairs. She has snake-o-phobia, so she did not ask them to stay for a cookie and a Bible story.
Hordes of mice came to call, too, leaving their little black droppings as parting gifts. Gees, no wonder the snakes came in. The house was prime hunting grounds!
Does anybody like big, hairy wolf spiders? I found one in the sink, the size of a toddler. Well, maybe not quite that big. But close enough.
Nature was pretty aggressive in the yard, as well. Ticks and poison ivy attacked my kids often enough that the doctor probably kept our charts in the section of files labeled “rednecks.”
And oh, the pool hole! Once upon a time, it had been a beautiful in-ground pool. But during our stint at Wildlife Manor, I had to phone the game warden to rescue a young deer that was trapped in the crumbling, weed-infested chasm. As for groundhogs that fell in…they were out of luck.
So…I’m pretty sure
Lesson 187: living in a tumbledown mansion with more critters than they have in the Philadelphia Zoo=White Trash!
Truth be told, we were blessed. We had indoor plumbing and enough to eat. Winters were tough but nobody got frostbite. And the kids still reminisce about the seven-acre yard where they climbed trees, rode bikes, picked apples, and frolicked in poison ivy.
It wasn’t my idea to live there, but I know it was God’s plan for us at that time. And when we finally moved into our very own house, we appreciated it all the more.
However, I still firmly believe that Nature should stay outdoors.
I met Carrie at St. Davids Christian Writers' Conference this past June. She befriended me despite thinking I was a stalker. She is a wife and mother of 4, and she just so happens to be the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award winner in the YA category. Her book, The Mermaid's Sister, will be available in February 2015. (You can pre-order a copy on Amazon......hint!....hint!!)
Thanks Carrie for your trashy contribution!!