I once sat for two hours in the living room of a friend without noticing that she’d changed all her furniture. For a writer, I’m remarkably unobservant. I would be a terrible witness should a crime happen in front of me, mixing up what I saw with the plot of my last novel. I tend to live in my head most of the time.
However, I was preparing to dab paint on a few worn spots on my house exterior when I happened to look up. The twenty foot long, seven foot wide overhang was covered in cobwebs and other unidentifiable things. Possibly small bits of human remains, judging by the size of the spiders. With some trepidation I realized I had landed in Stranger Things territory. I thought about borrowing my brother-in-law’s power washer to clean the area, but given the fragility of my previous paint job, decided to just use the hose. As I sprayed fiercely, the webs and bits of human flesh (okay, probably not) clung to the roof and walls before falling on me. Even the ones ten feet away managed to reach me, as if I’m some kind of threat. These were old webs. The bugs were long dead.
And by the way, dear spiders, I’m your friend. When you come into my house, I use my spider catcher to gently carry you out onto the deck and set you free. I do this for all bugs except mosquitoes. I’m not a Buddhist, so I don’t feel compelled to keep them alive. On occasion, I might catch a bug’s leg in the trap door, but overall, most insects traveling through my house go unharmed. I’m sending this message over the world wide web (it’s crawling with informants) as a message regarding my compassion for all creatures. (Except mosquitoes, the vampires of the world. Vampire hunters, unite!)
This is not the only bit of weirdness going on in my area. I’ve never heard geese sound the way they have over the last few days when flying past my house–strange choking noises like they’re being strangled. Is this a cry for help? If so, you ought to know that I can’t fly. And I don’t want you landing on my lawn with all your squawking and messy poop. I’ll chase you, then run. There were repercussions from teasing the geese on my uncle’s farm. and I’m still carrying the emotional scars.
The squirrels and chipmunks have been weirdly aggressive lately. I don’t have a bird feeder so they’re not fighting me for territory, but they’re very bold. They rush up to my swing (where I draw up my legs to avoid being bitten) and bark at me in their strange little voices. The squirrels, especially, never shut up. My yard, along with my neighbors, has become a kind of asylum for them. They sit brazenly on my deck furniture and run through my garden while jeering at me. How can I tell, you might be wondering? There’s something in the way they cock their heads, their beady eyes bright with malice. I’m almost certain they’re using the F word on me but I’m not leaving. This is my house.
And yet, is it mine because the land titles office says so? Perhaps because the animal kingdom has no MLA or MP representing them, they have to stand their ground. For instance, a few minutes ago I was watering plants in the back yard when I noticed a plastic bag snagged on the canoe I store under my deck. I whipped the bag away and leapt backward, banging my head on a post. Two chipmunks, possibly teenagers, lay sprawled in a very compromising position. “It’s not spring!” I hollered as they ran away. Perhaps they were inspired by the song I was playing on my phone at the time; Meghan Trainor’s ‘Let’s Marvin Gaye and Get it On.’ Since I’m not a chipmunk I won’t bet on it.
The world has certainly changed over the last number of years. Crazy winds, wild fires and animals behaving in uncharacteristic ways. Then there’s the Republicans. (I’m not American but they seem to be everyone’s problem. ) Perhaps this foreshadowing is the animal kingdom’s way of telling us they know who to blame. So the sword hanging over my head might not be the world passing away in a nuclear blast, but in a series of small bites delivered over many years. Robert Frost wrote,
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
And I say, as long as it’s not death by mice.