We haven’t lived in Vermont for nearly 8 months now, but this week marks the end of a chapter for us. We sold our 150 year old farmhouse, cutting off a major tie to the state. I’m not sure that rural living was the best fit for us, but we do have some funny stories from our half-hearted attempts at homesteading.
There are many ways to enter an old house. We may only fit through the doors and windows, but any rodent can point out countless other entrances. At night, in addition to the sounds of the house settling, we could sometimes hear field mice building condos and subdivisions in our attic. Occasionally we would find our cats staring at the walls, listening to their favorite woodland snacks travel the main thoroughfares that meandered through the insulation.
One day in the middle of winter, Cliff stayed home from work, nursing a terrible flu. Just as he was finally nodding off to sleep, he heard the Hav-A-Hart trap in the attic slam shut. After many minutes, he convinced himself to leave his warm cocoon of blankets and threw on a coat, boots and hat over his pajamas. Not prepared to drive this jittery red squirrel over the Connecticut River to New Hampshire (our equivalent to the New Jersey car ride), he drove just 3 miles to the pavement and swung open the car door. Hanging half out of the vehicle, he dangled the trap over the road and slowly opened it. With an flash of orange, the squirrel hopped back into the car! Weak with sickness, Cliff pulled himself to his feet opened all of the car doors, and stood out in the cold for the prerequisite 5 minutes, assuming that the squirrel had jumped ship, before driving back home.
The next morning, as I was walking by the windows near where we parked the cars, I was surprised to discover a squirrel leaping between the seats, stopping occasionally to rest on the dashboard. Figuring that it wouldn’t walk out an open door, we got the brilliant idea to chase it out of the car with the cats. But the moment we shut the cats into the Subaru, they entered into a yowling panic, and pounded on the windows until they were released.
Next we tried dropping the squirrel off at the transfer station. While others in my community quietly dumped their trash and recyclables into the appropriate receptacles, Cliff and I opened the doors and rear hatch of our car and proceeded to tap on the dashboard, move the seats back and forth and even considered removing some of the plastic paneling, that is until we caught sight of our neighbors staring at the spectacle.
If it wasn’t for our collective embarrassment, I’m not sure how long it would have taken to realize that we couldn’t scare the squirrel out of its hiding place. Frustrated, we drove to a diner for breakfast, but left the windows down, hoping this time that the red rodent would attempt to escape from its tormentors. We didn’t notice the snow during our meal until we found a thick blanket of white fluffy snow covering the car interior, but no tiny tracks leading from it.
Frustrated, we dropped the Subaru off at the house, and spent the rest of the day trying not to think about the hitchhiker locked in the car.
When we finally arrived home that night, Cliff opened the rear hatch and could hear some rustling. We joked that the little guy was sustaining himself on the potato chip crumbles that speckled the carpet. We located him in the spare tire, and chased him outside.
The next morning we awoke to the sounds of scurrying from the attic.