Skies outside may be balmy blue. The temperature may waft up towards the tropical. Yes, I know it still feels like summer, but fall is scuttling closer and closer. It isn’t falling leaves or the imminent ringing of school bells that tips me off. It’s the migration of the wild things into my house.
And it isn’t pretty.
Yesterday, I found a spider crouched in my bathtub. Not your typical little house spinner, but one large enough to require a nuclear warhead. Not having time to build one, I muffled my shrieks and resorted to the age-old weapon of a glass and piece of cardboard. Its scrabbling brought Arachnophobia to mind. With my arms extended like an Egyptian hieroglyphic and my feet moving in a Neanderthal shuffle, I released creature into the nearest overgrown garden. I made a mental note to wait maybe four years to weed that garden.
The sun is still shining, so I had almost convinced myself that the autumn onslaught had yet to occur. But wait! A movement above my head. I groaned; my dogs cowered. Yet another barn spider hung above my head. Why? I demanded of the fates. There are no visible bugs in the house. The glass from my previous big game hunting expedition had barely been washed. But I was resigned. My ancestors had hunted and lived; I could do no less. With the stepladder out, I trapped the skitterer. The glass nearly vibrated with its little arachnid screams. It went the way of the first. I should have thought to sell tickets to the match if the two spiders encounter each other.
I will never know because I’m not going anywhere near that garden for eight years now.
Living in the country in a nearly century old home, I have gotten used to the idea (not the reality) that the wild generations look upon my dwelling as a viable winter retreat. The house had teetered toward a close to derelict state when we bought it. Fresh from the suburbs, we had no idea that historic also meant a few hundred cracks and tiny holes that allow small things easy entrance. Rats and mice are unsavory, but not unexpected – someone has to keep the pest control folks in business. I’ve also been surprised by tree frogs, salamanders, and of course giant slugs that hitched a ride on the coats of my snoozing dogs.
For most people, fall means nature’s decorations of turning leaves, the excitement of the first day of school, time to think about a hot drink in front of a warm fire. Not so much. My eyes and ears are sharpened. Skittering feet, slime trails and things that go squeak in the night are my growing autumn nightmare.
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