Last week while working on improving the look of the boulevard in front of the house, a neighbour stopped by, his opening salutation “I got one.”
Then I realized, he had previously asked about what I used against the invasion of moles on my lawn, and was now announcing his success.
The conversation then wandered to all the other challenges that rural living provides, such as the usual fall influx of mice that seek out the warmer climes of kitchen, pantry and basement crannies, and how if you don’t tie a string to the trap, the expiring mouse will often crawl into a heating duct, its demise not discovered until the furnace kicks in.
Another joy of living in a wooden house, both inside and out, on Sumas Mountain are cluster flies, which if you have never experienced them, are akin to the Mongol hordes – they just keep coming. Cluster flies do just that: cluster on your windows, congregate in corners and collect in light fixtures. They join you in the shower, float lazily down into your hair just as you are about to fall asleep, and generally make life unpleasant.
There’s nothing like the stench of fried fly in the halogen bathroom light to remind you to always use the exhaust fan. And no matter how many you vacuum, their numbers never seems to diminish. But if they make sleep annoying, it pales to the sound of woodpeckers beating on the side of the house at dawn of a Sunday morning, seeking late-comers to the sanctity of indoors.
Another plague yet to come are the lady bugs that turn light fixtures into mini-Le Mans race courses as, in their hundreds they constantly course the chandeliers in search of warmth. They don’t normally arrive inside until January, mercifully sparing us the need to keep them out of the cranberry sauce at Christmas.
Not only are they physically annoying, when they expire in the Hoover, or get flushed down the sink, they emit a rather unpleasant odour … sort of a parting gift for their deathly departure.
Maybe it’s just payback for the summers when, up here, there are no flies (except on the livestock) to speak of, and screens on the patio doors don’t need to be closed. Or why we never get plagued by hornets around the barbecue or when eating on the deck.
Unfortunately, fall and winter is when you spent most of the time indoors, and the last thing you appreciate is the invasion of nature.
Also, this time of year is when we recognize the value of never discarding old towels – two dogs and a big back yard means there is always at least one towel at the backdoor to wipe their feet. Regrettably, try as we might, neither pooch has learned to do it themselves, preferring to blast through the door into the middle of the room if we are not there to corral them in, leaving a trail of muddy prints.
That is, however, a small price to pay in exchange for them understanding that outside is where they do their ‘business,’ where the daily use of a large scoop shovel is far more pleasant than scrubbing and sanitizing hardwood or broadloom.
So lament not you who live on city lots or apartments, acreage is not always as appealing as it looks.
Aside from the tribulations placed on us by nature, the work required to maintain it never ends.
Then again, though I often wonder why I never seem to have the time to do anything but toil in the yard, or constantly fix things that inevitably require repair – even put up with dead mice in the ducts, or bugs and bats – I wouldn’t trade the lifestyle for the world.
Unless, of course, I win the lottery.