by admin on February 12, 2011

little roof rat

the chase

i know you will find this idea disgusting at first but bear with me.  every few years when the winter is particularly cold or long, esme, mr. noir, hunter and christophe end up with rats in their basement (i thought i’d use the french term for these critters to refine the dialogue a bit, but unfortunately, that term is “les rats”.) 

the first to detect this foreign presence is usually hunter:  he starts scrabbling at the corners of the living room as though digging a hole in our antique recycled doug-fir floors, and sniffing excitedly.  this year, i tried to practice my denial, hoping we had left a stray tid-bit somewhere that was provoking his interest.  finally, on the advice of my mother (always a champ when it comes to the ability to worry), hunter and i set out to investigate. 

we put on our trusty rat-hunting outfits (sailing boots borrowed from mr. noir, old jeans, fleece jacket, rubber gloves, and hat for me; white fox-terrier fur with a black spot for hunter) and proceded cautiously down the stairs.  you might wonder why mr. noir did not go down with us (or even better, without us).  in a reversal of traditional male-female roles, mr. noir, just like esme’s own father, ”does not do the out-of-doors” (this includes anything involving plants, animals or dirt).  so esme must rely on her pioneer-woman heritage, and take matters into her own hands. 

careful investigation revealed unmistakable rat detritus, including little bits of insulation scattered here and there like crumbs marking the trail.  so we were forced to set up our handy rat-zapper, the best, cleanest and most humane method of dealing with the intruders that i have found. (somehow the word intruders has got me thinking about one of my favorite childhood books, miss bianca. but i can’t afford to go there and get all smarmy over small creatures).  anyway, with a rat-zapper you simply put in 4 AA batteries and a bit of dog-kibble, set it in a likely place, and wait. 

at first i didn’t put 2 and 2 together when hunter woke me up early the next morning, not demanding food, but barking and jumping on the bed repeatedly to get my attention.  as i was leaving for the gym, it occurred to me that he was well aware of my interest in rats, and was alerting me to a catch.  so we again donned our rat-catching attire (this time including a plastic bag) and tromped confidently down the stairs.  i will have to admit that i let out a shriek when i saw the tail—-nothing you can do will prepare you for the initial shock.  however, i recovered quickly, dumping the rat into the bag as hunter scampered around my feet.  i will tell you (and i’m sure hunter will agree) that nothing quite matches the thrill of a successful hunt.  even the relative cuteness of the rat (these are roof-rats and look rather like pets) could not dampen a little burst of triumph.  i just hope i get them before they have babies, and had to stop myself from imaging heart-rendering scenes involving mother-less ratlets……

you may be wondering what this has to do with shopping.  not much i suppose, except that it’s important to tend to what mr. noir calls “the infrastructure” before setting out on one’s shop, which, now that i think of it, certainly resembles a hunt!

the rat is out of the bag,

esme (esmenoir@gmail.com)

p.s. in case we all develop some rare and potentially fatal illness, please tell dr. house to check the basement!


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