Suffer the little creatures


Cloverdale renovations 2012 043

From time to time my place turns into Hamlyn.  The rats love the thick layers of roof insulation to snuggle into, the tasty fruit trees in the garden, the drinking water in the pond and the snacks available from the bird feeding table.  It is nothing less than a rat resort.  The only marked difference between this and a hotel with a Bali Hai bar in the swimming pool is that all the residents must die.

The last time I bought rat poison, the woman at the supermarket register swiped the box and muttered, “Animal lover, I see.”  I could hear blame in her voice and noticed how she was looking at me through her fringe, as though memorising my face.  Do rats have friends?  Once a year I clamber up into the roof space and throw the poison into the corners.  Some nights later, awoken by an unfamiliar sound, I hold my breath and wonder if I can hear the rats whispering to each other:
“Don’t touch the blocks.  They’re poison.”
“Poison?  In this comfy and welcoming place?”
“Trust me; stay with the nuts.”
And when I hear the familiar sound of a rat gnawing away on the chunk of poison, part of me wants to cry out, “Don’t touch it!” just as you would if you’re watching a film where the toddler picks up Daddy’s loaded pistol.  The other half is doing a cheer leading routine.  The rats disappear and we never find any trace of them again for another year.

Rats are nothing new to me.  We have rats in our shack in the country, which is not surprising given that we are surrounded by a macadamia plantation.  When we first built the place you only had to turn out the lights and you’d hear the patter of little feet tap dancing across the beams, taunting us with, “Nah, nah, you can’t see us!”  Each morning I would climb the ladder and nail more bits of wood over holes I believed were the latest entry points, ignoring the sound of rats sniggering as they watched me from their secret bunker.

But one day we arrived and there were no trace of rats.  Hurrah, I cheered, hurrah for my clever eradication programme that has dealt the rat menace a final blow!
“Or,” said my partner. “It could be because of that carpet python coiled in the corner over there.”

There’s nothing better than a carpet python to eradicate rats, as people are always telling me (although perhaps only in Australia).  People advise you to place one in your roof space as though you might add that to your shopping list (“milk, eggs, and check out the specials on carpet pythons”).  And whilst I think tweaking the eco-system in your favour makes great sense, it did take me a while to come around to the idea.

Carpet pythons are huge snakes with a patterned skin that obviously reminded someone of a carpet although in fact it is much more like lino.  A lino python sounds more rigid, I suppose.  They’re not particularly bothered by humans and only ask for a warm spot to sleep and the odd rat or small dog for lunch.  I first came across one whilst staying at my friend Chris’ house in the country.  I had been wandering around the garden and was kicking off my boots on the veranda when I thought: funny, that enormous coil of rope wasn’t there when I left.  Which is when I noticed how the coil of rope had an elegant head.  It shot me a bored glance as I backed through the French windows, my mouth open in one of those silent screams you think you only get in dreams.

And then Chris bounced into view on his ride-on mower.  His eyes narrowed when he saw my pale face at the window and he got off the mower and started to walk towards me.
“A snake!” I mouthed through the glass, pointing furiously at the veranda and contemplating the loss of bladder control.  I realised I would have to watch a dear friend being consumed by a serpent.
“Run! Run for your life!” I shrieked through the window, horrified to see him bend forward to get a better view of the snake.
“It’s only a python,” he said.  Which sounded to me like: it’s only an envoy of Satan, what possible harm can it do?
And he got back on the mower and proceeded to cut the grass.

After an hour of contemplating the snake from behind the breath-steamed glass of the window, I began to admit that the snake was in fact quite a beautiful thing.  I have lost my fear of them now, knowing that they are the rat catchers par excellence and I lower my head reverently whenever I see one.  It has a job to do.  I’d consider getting one for the roof space in Sydney but I don’t think I could handle walking down the street past the Missing Dog signs posted on the lampposts and the way the neighbours might start deliberating over why Schnoodles was last seen wagging his tail as he walked down our drive to investigate something unusual.

At heart I am a sentimental animal lover.  I lock eyes with dogs that pass with their owners and we share an understanding that sometimes life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  I pat cows in fields and say hello to the fat spiders that lurk somewhat unwisely on door-frames.  Even now, as I scatter poison into the roof space, I think how wonderful the gift of life is and how sad it is that I am about to cause the demise of several.  And then I make a pot of tea.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Jerry Coleby-Williams

Sustainable Gardening in our Continually Surprising Climate

Mathieu Proctor

Urban Planning + Design

The Earful Tower

A Paris podcast to figure out France

The Australian Ugliness?

Maybe ugly, maybe not? Continuing Robin Boyd's conversation about the character of Australia's built envrionment

Savidge Reads

The Chronicles of a Book Addict

Barnabas Calder

Raw Concrete: the Beauty of Brutalism

Ticket to Adventures

Travel blog from around the world, near and far.

Write or Wrong

Uninspiration for the uninspired

STEPHENVARADY_ARCHITRAVELLER

architecture for travellers

THE VIBE 101

DAILY DISCUSSIONS. DAILY EXPERIENCES. DAILY LIFE.

...Irishpisky....

...how an oldish chap sees the world...

Wudang Academy

Traditional Sanfeng Cultural Heritage

Vaudequin

An Architectural Perspective

The worlds biggest fridge magnet

The simple musings of a Post Bariatric Surgery, self confessed fat bloke

Half Baked In Paradise

Searching, settling, sauteeing and spritzing

Paris here and there

An insider's guide to Paris

The Wine Wankers

G’day, you’re at the best wine blog ever! We're all about wine; without the wankery.

Colin Bisset

writer, traveller, broadcaster

Bite The Book

Book Reviews and Views

Long Haul Lumière

Exploring our planet through neon-clad noise

Poshbird with Passion

restoring and saving 'stuff'

Travellers

Some kind of journey.

Elder Pipe

Just you - and the world.

Blog-sur-Aude

Adventures in renovation & restoration of an old French village house

Forty, c'est Fantastique !

La vie est belle !

CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD

She turns coffee into books so she can afford to buy more coffee. And more books.

cate st hill

a blog sharing simple design that uplifts the everyday

Mel Healy

crime fiction (& the kitchen)

Storyshucker

A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.

Architectural Visits

by Helena Ariza

SUGIH forever

Prince Dreamer constructs all his dreams!

The Ignited Mind !

"If you are resolutely determined to make a lawyer of yourself, the thing is more than half done already" - Abraham Lincoln.

Publishing Insights

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose / The more things change, the more they stay the same

architales

fairytales of architecture

Virginia Duran Blog

Art · Architecture · Graphic Design

My Book Strings

Those Who Say "You Only Live Once" Have Never Read a Book. ~John Hughes

andrew james writer

Unusual things to see and do in Paris

GAYCARBOYS.COM

Camp but stylish Car Reviews and News

The Modern House Blog

Modern Residential Architecture

victoria blake

ON WRITERS AND WRITING

%d bloggers like this: