Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Critter in the Kitchen


When describing the idylls of country living, most lifestyle magazines will tell you nothing about all the creatures who will not only share your garden, but occasionally decide to invade your house as well. This morning, when I went down to make my tea (real tea-leaves, real teapot, naturally) there was a critter in the kitchen. I heard a sudden, frantic scuffling behind the dustpan and brush, but couldn't see what it was, except that it looked quite big. Aaargh. I went out, shut the door, did something else and went back in again, wondering if I had been mistaken. But there it was again, that sudden convulsive scrabbling movement, this time in the vicinity of the dresser. Then all went quiet. I closed the interior door, opened the outside door, made my tea and hoped for the best.
Most summers, we have various specimens of the local fauna that decide that they would prefer to share our living space. There was the summer night when my son came into the living room and said that there was 'a very very very large moth' in the kitchen. It wasn't a moth at all. It was a disorientated pipistrelle bat. We put the light off and opened the back door (usually the best way of dealing with such intrusions, since they want to get out just as much as we want them to go!) But on this occasion it didn't leave. Somehow it found its way through into the study where one of my husbands woodcarvings - ironically enough a large wooden pillar, carved with bats (honestly!) - was waiting for installation in somebody's garden. The bat was found clinging to it the next day. Very gently we managed to transfer it outside, and put it well away from marauding cats, in the shade, to await nightfall.
Spring and autumn bring an annual invasion of little field mice and shrews. Sometimes young swallows fly in the windows. Once it was a blue tit that took up residence in the kitchen and definitely didn't want to leave. We have had baby hedgehogs ambling up the hallway, and rooks in the chimneys. Yesterday, standing in the kitchen doorway, I saw the flash of a mobile reddish brown sausage, marking the passage of stoat or weasel, I'm never sure which.
Worst of all, though, are the enormous garden spiders that seem to venture doggedly indoors at this time of year. I don't mind the smaller variety, but the other night's intruder was huge. I never kill them. Can't stand the squashing. I just put a glass over the top, slip a card underneath and evict them.
This morning's critter? Well, I just went out the back door myself and almost tripped over an extra large frog, making its hesitant way out, at the same time. I stood back and watched it hop off. Sighs of relief all round. I rather like frogs, which is just as well, because having a garden pond not far from the back door, we have lots of them. Oh and the wooden frog in the illustration? That's one of a pair of larger-than-life sculptures that my husband made for a country park. I'm glad my visitor wasn't quite that size!

1 comment:

Rozanne said...

I can't stop laughing. Are you on the original site of the Ark or something? Our house used to have little lizards on the ceiling but now they live in the roll down wooden shutters. So now I'm scared to open them in case I squash one.