I live in a small town and I love it. Big trees, big yards, quaint architecture, you name it, my town has it. You have to love a place where your husband can string up a dead deer in the backyard and the only comment will be a neighbor dropping by to congratulate you. The lack of pretense and lack of traffic is an irresistible combination.
However, a little house in a little town on the prairie also means living close to nature. Pretty much, if it flies, runs, crawls, creeps, or slithers, I’ve encountered it in the back yard. Normally, I don’t mind . . . however . . .
That morning started like every other, with me hustling the dogs outside to answer the call of nature. They were skittish and nosing around the door to the mud room.
As I learned when I moved to the Midwest, your front door rarely opens into the living spaces of your house. There is almost always a small enclosed area that acts as a buffer to keep the blistering wind (hot or cold) outside where it belongs. If you’re fancy folk, you call it the vestibule or entryway. If you’re not, it’s the porch or the mud room. I’m not. My mud room is about seven feet square with a door on either end. It’s a nice place to hang coats, stamp snow off your boots, and keep the trash cans away from the outdoor critters.
Well, this fine morning, I scooped up the youngest dog (he’s not bright enough to make it across the yard without running off) and opened the inner door into a scene from . . . um . . . imagine William Shatner starring in a Jerry Bruckheimer made-for-TV SyFy channel disaster movie.
The tacky tile floor, the from-the-70s paneled walls, the new front door, and the oh-so-cleverly placed trash cans were black with a writhing mass of insectivism. This was not a scouting party. This was a full-scale invasion on the magnitude of D-Day. To add insult to the injury, a dozen or so garden spiders were dropping down from the ceiling to enjoy some easy hunting. All in my mud room. All before my first cup of coffee.
Okay. I’ve got three dogs with urgent business, a job to get to, and a freaking natural disaster on my hands. No problem. I’m a modern woman! I’m a prairie pioneer! I’m a lawyer! Hear me roar!
Whatever. I dealt with it by standing and staring goggle-eyed. Frozen in place, until a doggie whine reminded me that, unless I acted, I’d have another mess to clean up.
I scooped up the threesome (thank goodness for Chihuahuas), ducked my head, uttered a string of obscenities that did my lumberjack father proud, and ran outside. After I brushed off the dogs and danced around the backyard to dislodge the hitchhiking ants, I got mad. A plan formulated in my head and I decided to get even. This was personal.
Grabbing the garden hose, I ran the gauntlet back into the house. Nozzle in hand, facing down the invading horde, I knew what had to be done.
This was madness.
This was blasphemy.
This was SPAAARRRTTTAAAAAA!
If you’ve never turned on a garden hose in your living room and washed about a million ants out the front door in a high pressure flood of water, you’ve missed quite an experience. “Cathartic” is too mild a word. So is “messy.”
I was late for work that day. Luckily, I’m self-employed and my boss is pretty cool.
I unceremoniously kicked and dragged the offending trash cans outside. We have a tenant who swaps yard and outdoor work for rent. Later, I’d have to explain to him why the cans and trash bags were full of water. The ragged survivors crawled away from the devastation, only to be washed into the storm drain by my hose of vengeance. My broom valiantly sacrificed itself to remove the swirling puddles of six-legged goo. A bucket of hot water and bleach scoured the battleground clean.
Exhausted, I sat down with some iced tea to survey the scene and revel in my triumph. Until a flash of gray streaked across the baseboard into the kitchen.
The Battle for Bucolia was not over, it had just begun. I knew what I had to do. I faced a new adversary. This one was cunning and strong.
To be continued . . .