When the men in the white suits come for me with the strait jacket, tell them it was the moths that finally drove me over the edge.
I understand that country living includes critters. I’ve had a lifetime of grabbing grain cans only to have a mouse zip up my arm. I should have nerves of steel by now. South Dakota alone should have made me into Superwoman. I once crawled under a wooden granary to retrieve a litter of puppies with the full knowledge that the dog flushed rats out of the corn every morning. (I worried they might invade the house. My husband assured me they would much rather stay outside, where there was food.)
Thanks to the high water table and a sump hole inexplicably inserted on the high end of the basement floor, we occasionally had to prop open the window to run a hose out from the low end. One morning, I opened the basement door and came face to face with a possum on the landing. I’d never seen a possum before. I assumed it was a rat the size of a Chihuahua. Luckily, we’d been planning on knocking out that wall between the dining room and kitchen anyway.
And then there was the day I woke from a nap to the sound of skittering feet, and looked over to see a pocket gopher scaling my bedroom curtains.
Even the birds got in on the act. My living room door was two steps up from the ground, at the ideal level for sparrows to swoop into the house when I hit the electric garage door closer and scared them off the rails. I got be a real pro at herding them out the sliding glass doors with a broom and a minimal amount of splatter.
In Oregon, it was spiders. Big spiders, little spiders, white spiders, gray spiders. Black fuzzy jumping spiders that could leap from windowsill to toilet in a single bound. Nickel-sized brown spiders that lurked in my shower. Menacing black widow spiders that hid in the dark corners of my tack room.
But it’s the moths that are going to do me in.
The robins started it by chiseling a hole under the eaves of my kitchen roof. By the time I discovered their handiwork, it was too late to seal it up. They’d already built their nests. Call me soft-hearted. Or allergic to the smell of rotting eggs. I got used to the sound of scratching and cheeping above my table and sort of forgot about the hole.
Until the moths.
We came home after dark from a visit to the neighbors, switched on the living room light, and were engulfed in a blizzard of moths. Fluttering and flapping, smacking into lights and walls and ceilings and me. My son ran screaming to the bedroom and hid under the blankets. My husband and I armed ourselves with rolled up magazines and ran around flailing at the things until the floor was thick with casualties.
That was a week ago. Seven nights of terror. Every evening, as dusk falls, they begin to creep out of the cracks and crevices. They hunker along the top curves of the log beams in the living room, where swatting is nearly impossible. When you try, they hurl themselves at your head, tangle in your hair, dive down your collar. After the third time he watched me strip off my shirt and stomp it to death on the floor, my husband decided we needed a better weapon. Once he stopped laughing, of course.
Enter the ShopVac.
I now have a new bedtime routine. ShopVac wand in one hand, paperback book in the other to fend off frontal attacks, I prowl the house, looking for suspicious, wedge-shaped brown spots. It sucks them right off the ceiling beams with a satisfying thwip! And I’m getting better with practice. I can occasionally snatch one right out of the air. Makes me feel like Luke Skywalker, light saber at ready, saving the universe from Darth Vader’s evil minions.
I also have no cobwebs for the first time in living memory.
But the battle goes on. The enemy seems to have endless reinforcements. No matter how I scour the perimeter, a few slip past. I pick up a book from my nightstand and a moth blasts out in my face. I grab the dish towel from the rack and a moth shoots up my sleeve. Two nights in a row, just as I dozed off to sleep, I’ve been dive-bombed right there on my pillow.
We’re talking shriek and freak. Claw marks on the ceiling.
Now I lie here, barely able to close my eyes, heart leaping into my throat at every sound. I’m exhausted. Frazzled. Seriously considering a buzz cut.
Please, somebody, come and take me away.