Early-morning critter crisis unveils beauty of stars

The sound is as if something is moving around and bumping against the wall in the bathroom. There it is again. Could it be Sydney? No, he is in doggie dreamland on the floor by the bed.

It’s 5:30 a.m., and I don’t want to get out from under these cozy blankets, but I suppose I must. Sigh.

I’m pretty sure it is an animal in the attic behind the wall, but I flip on the light with caution because I am only pretty sure that it is behind the wall. It is coming from the recess in the wall where we keep the laundry basket. We had mice in the same place a few years ago, but this sounds much bigger than a mouse. A raccoon? A possum? A skunk? I hope not. That would complicate things.

I hammer on the wall with the side of my fist. Yeah, right. That’s going to do it. Scare that critter right out of the attic. During the mouse incident, Syd was in here nosing and scratching at the baseboard trying to get at the little creature. Not this time, though. He’s older and can’t hear that well anymore. Me either.

However, the pounding seems to have roused both him and Becky from their slumbers. She wonders what is going on until she, too, hears the bumping. More pounding. Eventually the noises stop, at least for a while.

By this time, 5:45 a.m., Sydney is heading to the top of the stairs ready to go out for his morning constitutional. I tell Becky she should go back to sleep. Syd and I head downstairs, I grab my coat, and out we go. He sniffs around while I contemplate my critter crisis.

The last time this happened, I had to climb up the big ladder in the garage, push the board aside that covers the attic opening and crawl across the joists with some pellets of poison to where I heard the noise. Based on the sounds I heard, I don’t think poison would be a good idea. It’s one thing to have a dead mouse lying around and quite another to have a big, fat dead raccoon stinking up the place.

Some sort of trap, maybe. I’ve also heard that mothballs will sometimes drive unwanted critters away. Might try that.

I don’t relish the thought of sticking my head through the attic opening and possibly making eye contact with an angry or frightened creature with claws and teeth, but I don’t have a choice, I guess. Not unless I want to cede my space, my human space, to the animal world. I understand that out here in the woods I am somewhat of an interloper, but I must insist that some areas do not belong to the wild things.

Suddenly I am aware of where I am. I look around. Even though it is cold and I am sleepy, even though it would have been nice to stay in my warm bed under warm blankets, I have always felt that to be outside in the early-morning dark is a wonder and a blessing. The sky is dark and cloudless. The stars are shimmering cold. In the east the sun is not yet even a hint on the horizon while the morning star, beautiful Venus, rises about 30 degrees above the horizon.

Imagine: Here I am, snug in my warm coat while standing on this huge ball looking out into deep eternity. Amazing.

Syd is ready to go back inside. It’s just after 6 a.m. I could go back to bed or I could just shrug and start my day. I know that I must deal with my critter problem, but now I am going make coffee and sit at the kitchen table while beautiful Venus shines through the high window in the living room.