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The Guard of the Garbage

August 20, 2013

Unbeknownst to me, a small critter had taken up residence in my kitchen cupboards.

The first time we met, he was perched on the near edge of the trash can, hanging on with his front paws, his back end dangling inside the can…or maybe he was sitting on an empty milk jug or an ice cream carton. He reminded me of a Walmart greeter sans the little blue vest.

He seemed to be expecting me…the corners of his mouth a bit upturned as if he was smiling. Round black eyes dominated his furry grayish brown face. His little black button nose twitched nervously.

While he didn’t seem overly surprised to see me, I wasn’t quite so nonchalant about the encounter. I did what any red-blooded woman would do…trust me.

I screamed. Not just a little peep of surprise,. It was more of a high-pitched-ear-piercing-air-raid-siren sort of scream. Long and loud, with undulating tone and intensity.

Jim bolted from the couch, racing to the kitchen. My twelve year old son was in the shower and loud inquiries could be heard from that quarter as well.

‘What’s wrong?’ Jimbo asked.

‘CRITTER IN THERE! I gasped as I pointed to the door.

‘A spider?’ He asked.




’What was it?’

‘I don’t know!’

‘What do you mean you don’t know?’


Jim scratched his head. ‘How big was it?’  He asked.

I used my hands to make a three inch circle, not really sure about accuracy.

‘What color? Did it have wings?’

‘Gray. Maybe a little brown. Not sure on the wings. Just LOOK.’

Jim carefully opened the door a crack, using a flashlight to peer inside. The critter had moved. Probably to protect his hearing.

We were in the final stages of building our house. The structure was built, sided and shingled. The walls were sheet rocked and painted. Light fixtures had been installed. We were saving money to finish the kitchen. As it stood now, the room was fully functional with second-hand cupboards. The man we‘d bought them from had built them for his bachelor pad. They worked for now, but eventually, we wanted to replace them with new ones. They were kind of like trailer-house cupboards…one big cavernous space with several doors and drawers providing access to the shelves behind.

Which meant, unfortunately for us, that this critter could be anywhere in there.

We took up arms. Me with a broom, and Jim with his trusty hammer. He was on the front lines, and I, supposedly, was to serve as back up.

We opened the back door, hoping to shoo/sweep it outside where it belonged. That was the plan right up until Pepe Le Mew, our resident rodent control specialist, aka cat, parked his butt on the doormat just outside the door, eagerly following the play-by-play unfolding just a few feet away.

Pepe was strictly an outside cat. That’s the way he liked it. He was a typical black and white short-haired farm cat…fairly large, and very good at his job. We learned early on to check the doormat for his offerings before we set foot outside…stepping on a dead rodent is not my favorite way to start the day, but it beats having them in the house. Nearly every day Pepe’d leave a dead critter there for us.

Jim opened first one door, then the next, working his way down to the column of drawers at the end.

Finally, he tracked it down in the third drawer down…nestled between the dish rags and hand towels.

He whacked it to death in a matter of seconds.

Meanwhile, Brenden burst onto the scene, clutching a towel around his waist. ‘What’s going on?’

‘Critter in the trash can,’ I hastily replied.


‘NO!  Look…dad’s taking it outside.’

He looked over his father’s shoulder. ‘Isn’t that a flying squirrel?’ He asked.

Jim replied, ‘Yeah.’

‘Aren’t they on the endangered species list?’ He inquired.

‘Don’t know…in here, they are.’ Jim and I replied.

Turns out, flying squirrels are not protected in Minnesota.


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