I have already told you the nutria story. I think about my dad and his inspirational message of stoic courage whenever we see nutria at the river.
They come quite close and are reasonably lovable–orange teeth and all.
But I have other rodents in my past. For instance Mouse–red, worn, lovable, constant. Stuffed, so no plague risks.
When I was in Thailand our bungalows were infested with rats. They were so noisy I thought they were monkeys on the roof. Until the night one swung over the rafters onto the mosquito netting sending us all to the boys’ cabin. Five Americans in a double bed. I slept at the foot. Feet.
The next day the man pulled desiccated rat carcasses from the eaves. Like we had unsettled an ancient burial ground.
Then there was the boat to Yang Shuo. Kay said she saw a rat. Said she was moving to another cabin. I swapped bunks with her. At 4:30 in the morning I wake up to the curious gaze of a rat sitting on his haunches–squirrel-like and contemplative. No more sleep for me.
And then there was the year the rats were bad on the coast. They starved out the neighbor’s birds. They ransacked feed beds. They gnawed fruit left on the kitchen counter.
We told ourselves–mice. Silly us.
Until the night of the great racket. A rat shimmied down the wall in the bathroom. J checked but saw nothing. I opened the door and it scurried into the darkened bedroom were the children slept. J was not concerned.
He has a cat allergy. I have a rat phobia. As he slept I ruminated–it is me or it, I am bringing in the cat!
Zippy–always intrepid, stalked the rat throughout the room speaking words of predatory intent. Finally satisfied she curled next to my daughter’s head on the pillow. We slept till morning.
At which point dear J bought traps and caught the entire rodent clan living in our attic.
My dear soft-hearted love–