Another weekend, another flying squirrel in the house.
Despite a cap on our chimney, these magical nocturnal creatures (my words) make a decision as they sail from tree to tree in the woods surrounding us that the tall, dark, chimney with two dogs and four cats waiting at the bottom of it is a really neat place to check out at 2 a.m.
And so it is not with a golden beam of eastern light that I am gently awakened from my deep slumber on such occasions, but the sound of high-pitched barking and six sets of claws scratching the wood floors downstairs as there is a hysterical scrambling after the rat-with-wings (Paul’s words).
Leaping out of bed I pulled the hapless creature out of the jaws of both dogs and two of the cats (I counted), all the while barking “No, NO!” at the dogs and yelling for assistance from Paul who stood by uselessly, half-heartedly calling off the dogs, still bleary from sleep and terrified by all things rodent.
Twice I had it cornered and slowly advanced to drop a throw over it, giving thanks for the first time for the hideous afghan we’d been given by a well-meaning soul who continued to crochet with cataracts, but it scrambled up my bare leg and pinged off my hip before settling on the stair landing. Bernie, our enormous half Maine Coon was in pouncing position and as I lowered one hand to hold him by the scruff of his neck, the creature, with its luminous eyes as one sees in depictions of aliens, leaped onto the ledge of the china cabinet. From there it wasn’t unlike watching a pinball machine in full action: it bounced onto the back of the couch, then onto the coffee table and finally came to rest spread out and gripping the basket screen in front of the fireplace. I allowed myself a few moments to take in the enchanting webbing of his extremities, making it possible for him to sail through the woods at night.
Paul went back to bed.
Holding my breath, I extended a hand to the other side, inclining the screen toward me an inch or so, and that was all it took for the squirrel to scramble back to relative safety on the other side and disappear up the chimney. It should be added that we keep a rope attached to the cap, during the warmer months, that trails down the chimney for such emergencies and all fallen squirrels eventually find it and climb out.
Feeling triumphant I fell back into a sweet sleep with dreams of Rocky, telling all his friends how he was quite sure that he had died and seen God, who, to his horror, looked like a skinny female human wearing nothing but a lavender T-shirt, but was told it wasn’t his time, and he was sent back home.
The dogs, however, remained awake, petulant and still aren’t talking to me.