Tails from my Past

 Mollie would be too young to know this. But in our family it is hard for me to say which animal found a way into our house more: Cats, various insects, spiders, rats, mice, or squirrels. When it was just Alex, Daryll, Charles and I, three cats under our roof had two litters of kittens each. Cats have always been a constant, but later in life, pet mice became a thing. Just like the cats, I had two mice, brother and sister, that produced two litters of mousketeers, which were not as welcome under our roof as the cats, but it taught my mother and me a valuable lesson: Mice are not all that concerned with how society views incest.SAM_0440

Although people have kept squirrels as pets in the past, none of the squirrels that have wound up in our house qualified as pets per se. The earliest example of this is when we lived at 27 Liberty Street when I was somewhere around the age of six. I can safely tell you the address of the house because at some point the house was demolished.

The house sat on top of a hill surrounded by a small patch of woods. As such, we had no shortage of wildlife and among these animals were definitely squirrels. Before cats became a thing in our house, my brothers and I would bring peanuts outside to feed them. It got to the point where one squirrel was getting very bold and approaching the house. Until one day it got so use to the handout that it began scratching at the door. We would prop the door open and leave peanuts on the floor. The squirrel would walk in, grab the peanuts and bolt.

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Later, when I was in the third grade, we moved to a house at the bottom of Meadow Street. By the way, I haven’t given you the location of the town we were living in, but if anyone wants to sign up for the Nathanielle Crawford Reality Tour, just send fifty dollars to my paypal account and be sure to tell me if you’re allergic to peanuts. Anyway, my mom was on her way to work and this baby squirrel fell from a tree. She quickly brought it back home and we kept it in a cardboard box with a metal grate and bought a water bottle for it. We called it Nutly. It was in our house for about three months before it got aggressive and had to be released.

Now fast forward about a decade. I’m twenty years-old and living on Beech Street in my hometown of Bennington. It was my day off and I was sitting in the living room watching television, because working at Price Chopper there was no way in hell I could afford a computer at this time. The house was pretty old, by Bennington standards. So old that it still had a chimney and there was a round cover in the brick wall that I did not pay much attention to, until I heard some scratching. I ignored it, but the scratching persisted. Soon, the cover began to move. I notices a beady set of eyes poking out, but apparently intimidated by my overwhelming presence, the yet unidentified animal did not attempt to enter the room and reek havoc.

I’d like to tell you that I acted like a man. I did not. I called my stepfather, Dave, over to help me take care of this issue. There’s a story about my landlady at this time that involves my stepfather and my mother at various stages in history, but that is for another post. For now, suffice it to say that Dave opened the cover and indeed there was a squirrel that at some point, made it’s way into the chimney. So he went outside and found a small door at the base of the chimney, presumably for ashes and soot, and proceeded to open it. The squirrel must have thought we were sending in a snake, because it bolted out of the chimney and into the kitchen, adjacent to the living room. After the thing slammed head firs into the back screen door several times, Dave came back around the house and opened the door and the squirrel ran back into the wild to hopefully educate all of the squirrelettes about the dangers of falling into chimneys.

Actually, while we’re on the subject of the house on Beech Street, here’s an anecdote that took place in that same living room at another point in time. This was the year the SciFi channel changed to SyFy and they were running an X-Files marathon on this particular Saturday morning. I hope you appreciate the fine details I am calling on to really paint the picture. We had a mouse and I didn’t realize it until I was sitting on the couch, watching X-Files that very morning, and I noticed a strange nudging sensation on my foot.

I moved the foot and the nudging stopped. A few seconds later, there was more nudging and I looked down and saw a black mouse, apparently mistaking the black sock covering my foot for a potential love interest.

Being that I love mice so much, you’d think I would have acted as a man of 21 could be expected to act. Well, if you think 21 year-old men would jump up on the couch like a sixties sitcom housewife then you were correct. Understand that it wasn’t the sight of a mouse that bothered me, so much as the fact that this mouse had found my toe so fascinating.

That segue over, you may be wondering why I decided to write about all of my unearthly encounters with squirrels (as well as other fauna) was coming from. Well a couple of nights ago, John went up to bed.

I was still in the kitchen and the closet door was mostly closed, when I began to hear some scratching. I glanced over to the closet and it was open just enough to cast a shadow. Something was moving on one of the upper shelves. I was certain this was some animal that had found it’s way into our house and that opening the door might cause it to attack.

“John,” I called up stairs. “You might want to come down here.”

“What is it?”

“Just come down and see.”

I didn’t want to cause unnecessary panic. I figured wait until John came down to see the potential rodent invader and then cause more grounded panic. As John came down, it also occurred to me that we have a dog in the house and Dicky is not shy about barking at any stranger.

Well, I pointed to the closet. John heard the sound and cautiously walked over to the closet. I could see a “nose” in the shadows. John pulled open the door and it turned out that there was a draft of air pushing a piece of paper that was tacked to the other side of the door.

We had a good a laugh at my childish misconception. I caught my breath and probably had another gray hair for all my trouble. But clearly there were was a history behind my little brush with fear.

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