So, if there was a creature stirring all through the house, how would you know?
Living in the Maine woods on cold, pre-winter’s nights gives me ample opportunity to ponder that age-old question. The challenging part comes in never knowing the precise moment I’ll go from idle speculation to launching an in-depth investigation.
“What IS that and where in the hell is it coming from?” It’s midnight and I’m interrogating Tom about the frantic stirring in our bedroom wall. Moments earlier, I’d laid my weary head on my pillow, grateful for my quiet serenity, my flannel sheets and my double layer of fleece blankets. As I snuggled in, I thought about the nighttime sounds we’d left behind in favor of our new blissful stillness. We weren’t victims of big city noise pollution by any stretch, but the incessant thumping of road traffic slamming through the potholes in front of our old house made our current address a more restful retreat.
“That’s really loud and it’s right next to your head!” I declared to my husband and official noise patrol officer who, by now, was bolt upright in bed, blinking furiously into the darkness. Moments earlier, he’d been sound asleep with visions of big Rangeley deer dancing in his head. Thanks to years of training, though, he quickly answered his call to duty and began assessing the situation.
“Whaaat? What noise are you talking about? I can’t tell where it’s….” Flump…flump…flump…kaffitt….ffitt…ffitt…kaflump!
“It’s right there, in the wall, next to your head! You didn’t hear that?”
“Sssshhh! Of course I hear now! Will you be quiet and let me figure out what it is and how it got in there?”
Typically, it takes a minute for Tom to fine-tune his hearing to my ultra-sensitive Mom- ears wavelength, and for me to throttle back the intensity of my verbal inquisition to match his calm style of methodical examination. But once we sync up, we are Team Invincible. Having a long history of shared critter invasions to draw from, we wasted no time zeroing in on our little trespasser(s).
“Bats should have migrated or be hibernating by now,” Tom stated. “It could be a mouse, I suppose but I just can’t imagine how that’s possible. There’s no droppings anywhere. And there’s no way he could have gotten into that wall.” Flump…flump…flump…kaffitt….ffitt…ffitt…kaflump! “Jeez, I hope it’s not a friggin’ flying squirrel! They do live around here, you know.” Standing in his underwear with one ear plastered against the wall, I could sense the intensity of his concentration. Cautiously, I waited for breaks in the scratching and snuffling to offer up suggestions.
“Bats would squeak, remember…like that chirping noise we heard at the old Moosehead camp before we poked a couple dozen out of hiding. But it sure does sound like it has wings. Can you hear that sort of flapping noise? How could it do that without wings? And if it is a mouse, we sure can’t just leave it in there! Remember the time in our other house the mouse died in the wall, or at least it smelled like a mouse died in the wall? We’d have that dead mouse smell right behind our bed for months! Ewwww! And remember the mouse that died on top of the water heater and you didn’t find it till……”Flump…flump…flump…kaffitt….ffitt…ffitt…kaflump!
WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! Attempting to shut me up, to scare the critter back outside, or both, Tom slammed on the bedroom wall so loud that the beagles started barking out in their pen. I crossed my fingers, calmed the nerves that had just levitated me a couple inches off the mattress, and hoped a noise that forceful would send whatever it was scampering away. Wasn’t it just the other day we were congratulating ourselves on being mouse proof—getting all smug about the new cabin being tight as a little drum with just us and the beagles allowed inside? As I drifted off to sleep again, I reminded myself to never get over-confident with Mother Nature. And never argue with your mother-in-law when she insists that, no matter how hard you try, you’re just borrowing living space from the forest animals. “You were right.” I admitted. “Good thing our visitors have left us in peace again, for now….”
Flump…flump…flump…kaffitt….ffitt…ffitt…kaflump! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!
Finally we decided to call off our investigation until morning. We screwed ear plugs in so tight our ear canals must have looked like the inside of a rifle barrel, and hunkered under the covers, waiting till we could add daylight and the power of Google to our plan of attack. Thanks to the Internet and a fresh outlook, Tom clarified our options to take back our territory. It was definitely a stirring noise, he figured. Possible sources, in this order, were: 1) a mouse who fell down inside the wall and was trying to leap and scramble his way out; 2) bats with no sense of seasonal timing; or 3) a friggin’ flying squirrel. No matter what rodent—winged or otherwise—needed relocating, his strategy would be the same. Like most home improvements, it would be a do-it-himself project, since rodents are not in my contract. Plus, he didn’t need an expensive exterminator to come out and charge big money for stating the obvious problem and taking care of it with the very same tools he had right in his own workshop.
Ultimately, reclaiming quiet here required a drill, ammonia, hornet spray with a super long nozzle and foaming caulk. Also invaluable was Tom’s deduction to make the inside corner of the bedroom closet the point of attack. Whatever was stirring in the wall is gone, for now, leaving it so quiet we can hear sleet against our windows and the wind blowing all the way down the lake from Upper Dam.