Uninvited Critters

My sweet woodstove

My sweet woodstove

My wood stove is getting a good workout for the first time in many years.

Like so many young homeowners in the late 1970’s we purchased a wood stove for our country house and me, the young wifey was responsible for the care and maintenance of said appliance. I stacked, toted, and occasionally split the lengths of firewood and was in charge of making sure the fire was up and roaring early in the morning to take the night’s chill out of the house. I cleaned the ashes out daily and disposed of them in the garden to boost the soil for the vegetable garden I planted each year.

Needless to say this wore thin once the price of wood continued to creep up and the cost of heating oil came down. The wood stove sat, unused for almost 15 years. Until this winter.

Divorce is nothing if not a creator of realities. Where before I had the steady income of my own business and that of a husband, I am now dealing with divorce settlements which, If I am very frugal might last me till I am dead. Perhaps not in a falling economy and the fear of living on tea and kitty kibble made me learn to economize in surprisingly creative ways.

 I lit the wood stove about a month ago for the first time in years and suddenly I felt that intense radiant warmth from it that I had long forgotten. Sitting by it on a cold day when the wind has sucked the warmth from my fingers and toes and no wooly cardigan is sufficient to take away the shivers in my body I settle down with a sigh of contentment.my pile o' wood

 I didn’t even mind the woodpile and the carrying of logs to the log ring on the porch outside the front door. I gathered fallen branches from around the edges of the fence line and stacked them for kindling in a basket by the door. The smell of woodsmoke is like perfume to me.

But what I do mind are the uninvited critters that make their homes in the woodshed and even on the logs themselves! I was restacking some wood which had fallen from the woodpile last week when I decided to neaten up the woodshed. I picked up a tarp that I had place over the potting table and as I lifted it the the tiny clay pots stacked so neatly  came alive ! Mice, dozens of them began pouring out of the flower pots! A veritable fountain of mice erupted, jumping and running and flinging themselves off the table in search of cover! I shrieked! My skin crawled! I ran, flinging the tarp as I gasped in horror at the scene!36_mice_wide1

I can handle snakes. I grew up in Florida where snakes are just part and parcel of the landscape. But there are two things that skeeve me the fuck out and that’s mice, well rodents in general, and spiders! The other thing about burning wood is the fact that spiders live under the bark of the wood so that bringing wood into your house also brings those disgusting creatures into your house! I have seen them creep out, those loathsome black wood spiders, then run under the baseboard where they wait for the can of Raid I haul out to kill their asses!  I feel horror in imagining them crawling out and setting up house in MY house!

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Florida Wolf Spider

 When I was a little girl living in a Cracker house in Central Florida I used to sit on the toilet in our house and watch as these giant wolf spiders spin webs in the corner of the bathroom. They were as big as a small child’s hand, these loathsome creatures and that’s where I learned my fear of spiders. My mother wouldn’t kill them because they ate the cockroaches!  Ah, my childhood. What a time that was. Imagine having to do your business in a room where no sane person would venture, your little legs dangling there while you pray for a fast poop so you can get the FUCK OUT!

 I have since returned to the woodpile but I carry a long stick with which I pound the woodpile to send the critters  a warning before I pick up the first piece of wood. So far, so good.