I live out in the boonies, on a quiet cul de sac with a forest behind me. Not surprising, I’ve had mice in the house before, usually in the winter when they’re looking for somewhere to keep warm, and even more often when they had easy access through a dryer vent that wasn’t properly sealed. As soon as that little oversite was fixed, I’ve been relatively mouse-free.
So I’m standing in my kitchen the other day.. Thursday to be precise…and a little movement out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. I looked at the coffee table in the family room, and two little beady eyes looked back at me. It wasn’t a Mickey, it was an Alvin…or to be more precise, it was Enzo.
I’ve developed a fond relationship with Enzo the chipmunk over the summer months. I had a bag of hazelnuts going dry and stale, and Enzo had moved his family out of the garage for the hot summer months and was enjoying the cottage life under my back deck, surrounded by flowers and lil shrubs and trees. Every morning I’d leave a couple of nuts on the small end table and Enzo would scurry up and collect them in his cheeks. I sat there once for over an hour holding a few in my hand, which he eventually came and got, so I figure we sort of bonded a little. If I forgot to put the nuts out, he would sit on the step in front of the kitchen door and give me the Evil Eye. Or if I really forgot and wasn’t home all day, a little head would pop up at the screen door to the family room and he’d give me a couple of clucks to tell me off. Yes, chipmunks cluck. First time I heard the sound I thought it was a kid making a popping sound with his finger in his cheek, but no…it was a pissed off Enzo telling me he didn’t appreciate being forgotten.
So last week I had a lot going on. The Clone was buying a new car and panicking that it would be ready in time for him and the grandson to drive to Florida Thursday morning, so he was packing up their other car in anticipation and the DIL was having to take the clunker to work and fretting about how she and the granddiva would get to Buffalo to make their flight on Sunday (the granddiva had to stay in town over the weekend for her big soccer tournament so they couldn’t leave until Sunday). Toss in the cleaning gnomes, two very excellent but very short ladies who blitz my house and come through the door chattering , and who chatter all the time they’re here, and who are still chattering when they leave 7 hrs later…add in an appt to get my dawg groomed, an appt for my back to get pummelled…and really, the last thing I needed was a pissed off Enzo sitting on my coffee table in the family room.
We just stared at each other for a good half minute before I came out with a four letter word that startled the little beggar and sent him dashing under the couch. The dawg, who is totally vigilant when a leaf blows by on the street four doors away and yaps her head off, merely saunters past the couch and the table and hops up onto her chair. I’ve seen her sitting out on the deck when Enzo comes to get his daily rasher of nuts, so I’m guessing they’re good buddies now, so no big deal that Enzo is INSIDE the screen instead of OUTSIDE the screen.
So I get the broom out and open the screen, then make banging noises on the couch and the wall to chase the little rugrat out. He darts out, but ignores the open door and heads for the kitchen. Great. Broom in hand, I give chase, but he vanishes behind the stove, where I can see him after a minute, peeking out with one eye like Inspector Clouseau before making a mad dash for the fridge. He’s a pretty beefy little guy, having dined well on hazelnuts and almonds for the past three months, so I’m pretty sure he can’t squish himself down like Flat Stanley and squeeze into tiny places or slide under closed doors. So I close the nearby door to the laundry room, and get the trusty broom banging again, this time hoping to chase him out the open kitchen screen door.
Again he darts, like a mini Flash Gordon, so fast the eye can’t follow so I’m not sure where he went, but the door was open, he was there, and I’m hoping he took the hint and ran out. I wait and watch. No movement under tables, under couches. I think it worked. I hear a car in the driveway and the Clone pulls up in his spiffy new vehicle, all loaded up for the drive to Florida. He drops the granddiva off and he and Austin are on their merry way.
Payton and I go back inside and I’m in the middle of telling her how clever I was to get Enzo out, when I see the little pecker go zooming across the floor…laughing, I’m sure. Payton and I do another round of broom-banging and door closing but he’s well hidden this time and we’re not sure if he’s in the dining room or back behind the stove. Like Big Game Hunters, we decide to make a trap. I find an old shoe box and we slather a cracker with peanut butter (crunchy to add more temptation) then carefully balance the box open with a pencil planted in the pb, so that at the first nibble, the pencil slips, the cracker slides and WHAP, he’s in the box. HAH.
We hunker down to watch, play a few games of Dominos, watch a really REALLY stupid movie starring actors who should know better, but nothing. No movement from Enzo, no peeking, no patter of little hairy feet on the hardwood. Six o’clock rolls around and the DIL comes to pick up the granddiva. She looks at our spiffy trap and oddly enough says nothing, as if it’s perfectly normal to come into a house and see shoeboxes propped up with peanutbutter crackers and pencils. We do eventually tell her about Enzo, thinking he might come out and take a bow, but no such luck. They drive off and I return to the family room to tidy up.
And there he is. Calmly snacking on the bird seeds that litter the floor beneath the cages. He looks at me with a smirk. I swear. He dashes off under another couch. Out comes the broom again and this time he knows I’m serious cuz he flies across the room and streaks across the hall into the dining room, which is the only door open to him now. I’m wise to him now and build a barricade to the family room, using a room screen. I put chairs on their side to block off any attempt to dash for the front of the house and the living room or, god forbid, the stairs going up or down. Broom in hand and the screen open to the deck…I start banging and whacking the floor and walls in the dining room, rattle the wall unit, peer behind the cabinets and ….there he goes….a mad dash for the only open door in the room! He streaks out to the kitchen, pauses to look….only one clear path open not blocked by chairs, TV trays, room screen…and he dashes for the open screen and freedom.
I’m right behind with my broom and slam the screen shut, which causes him to leap about two feet straight up in the air before he reaches the end of the deck and dives off into the shrubs.
Less than an hour later, after all the furniture and barricades have been put back where they belong, I even discover how the little pecker got in. The screen door in the family room has a loose rubber seal along the side and a gap at the bottom that would have drawn the curiosity of any small creature looking for his nuts. A nudge would have pushed the rubber aside, allowing him to squeeze in. And just as I’m slapping on duct tape, a movement out of the corner of my eye catches my attention and there, on the deck, not two feet away, is Enzo sitting on the table calmly munching away on his hazelnuts and watching me.
I swear, he was smirking.