Critter Capers at Edith Wolfords Cabin

Friends couldn’t believe I’d leave my clean, spacious townhouse and move to an old, tiny cabin way back in the woods.

(The cabin, shortly after I bought it. It needed a little work.)

“One winter out there and you’ll beg to come back,” they said. “Think of the work just to keep it clean. You’ll cut off a toe; you’ve never chopped wood in your life. And what about the bugs and the bears?!?”

They were right about the bugs.

They crawled up out of the drainpipe, cornering me as I scooted to the back of the tub. I grabbed the shampoo and tried to inflict a swift and sudsy death. Desperately, I shoved the soap with one toe and prayed the darned thing wouldn’t hop. Down it went, into the depths of dank and rusted drainpipes. But my sense of security was shattered – no longer could I shower with my eyes closed.

It didn’t stop in the bathroom. The cats dropped three-legged colorless crickets on the top of my bed, and I’d watch in horror as they hopped in circles. (The crickets, not the cats.) From then on, any twitch or tickle I felt as I slept became imagined insects crawling over the covers and up to my face.

The drama didn’t stop inside the four walls. Outside, crows would swoop in and invade the pines, watching and waiting for a chance to dive-bomb my cats. Flickers drilled their jackhammer beaks into bug infested logs on the sides of my home. The most dastardly among them made straight for the metal leaving me frustrated and furious as I raced for the door and watched from below.

You’d think that leaving the door open to let in the breeze would be a welcoming sight but it ruined relationships. After a triangle-headed alligator lizard walked in and under the feet of a friend, she joined the ranks of those who declined my invites to visit. They said, “It’s too far of a drive. Find me on Facebook.”

But there were furry little fellows who filled the void. Black squirrels and grey squirrels kept me company all day and into the night. They chewed a hole through the logs and got into the attic. I’d lay in my bed and hear them over my head, munching away on the wood and the wires.

Snakes hid in the walls between drywall and logs, crawling out from behind a south facing window and sunning themselves on the ledge by our door. They slithered from under the heat runs, discouraging my efforts to clean up the mouse droppings. After months at the cabin with no snakes in sight, I’d hoped they’d moved on. Then neighbors discovered a nest in their attic and threw 18 of them, wiggling and twisting, over the fence and into my yard.

It’s almost a decade since that fateful day when we moved to the cabin. Each morning I open the door, breathe in piney fresh air and count the bugs, the birds and my blessings. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything!

(Published in the Black Forest News)