Monday, July 17, 2006

The Toronto Nature Show

My parents are in North Carolina right now, off having a fun time on the Outer Banks with my dad's brother (who lives in N.C., hence the destination) and sister and their respective families. My younger brother Robert is in Toronto, holding down the fort. And the fort is under siege!!!!!!!

First Assault: The Beetles (I don't love them, yeah yeah yeah):

Randal & I have been in Toronto visiting since late Friday night, and every night when we get home, we discover lots of little black beetles crawling inside the house around the front door. At first we were disgusted and squeamish about killing them; now, by night #3, we are squashing them with gusto. (Except for the one Robert's girlfriend found in her shoe, and the one that fell out of the kleenex and onto my hand - both of those spawned shrieks.)

Tonight, when Randal & I got home from dinner at our friend Shoshanah's, we came in through the garage door in an attempt to thwart the nightly beetle advance. Heh heh, were we ever in for a surprise: in the garage on the floor there were about 100 little beetles crawling around, having a big party. We rushed in the house and got Robert & Judy to don their shoes to come take a look (that was the point at which the beetle-in-Judy's-shoe incident took place). We squashed the indoor beetles then marvelled at the garage beetles. Then I searched the house for bug spray and thankfully found some. We have sprayed around the front door (only on the inside; no one was brave enough to tackle the front step) and some spot spraying inside the garage (including along the bottom of the garage doors), so we'll see what happens. Updates to follow.

Second Assault: "Raton-voleur" is French for "AUGH!"

Then, as we are starting to settle down for the night, I suddenly hear Robert and Judy downstairs in the kitchen making a ruckus. I go down to investigate and Judy tells me breathlessly that there seems to be a raccoon on the roof! (Our kitchen extends past the second storey of the house, plus we have a patio covered with a large wooden trellis sun-shelter type thing, also at roof level.) All four of us troop up to the second-floor bathroom to peer out the window in the dark, and sure enough we can see something just outside the window on the roof in the process of cleaning itself. At first, we think it is a cat. As soon as we convince ourselves that it is definitely a cat, it becomes aware of our presence and backs up, arching its back, looking intently at us. Definitely a raccoon! And - shocking city kids that we are - we were definitely more scared of it than it was of us.*

Robert ran downstairs to get a flashlight so we could see it better. It soon decided to ignore us, and went to lie down on top of the sun-shelter roof. Then we became aware of a second blackish grey lump. A second raccoon!

We watched for a while, Randal took some pictures through the window (if possible, I will try to upload them here later), then one of the raccoons decided it was time to go get some food (I assume) and started climbing down one of the trees. So we all ran back downstairs to the kitchen sliding doors, flipped the back patio light on, and watched his descent. He cut up through the gardens and then out of sight (long yard at my parents' place and too dark to see where he ended up). After a minute or so, the other raccoon followed.

The worst part is that about five minutes later, while I was puttering about the kitchen, I realized that Robert and Judy had left a pillow out on the hammock in our backyard, where they'd been lazing about earlier that afternoon, trying to avoid the sun's heat. The pillow shouldn't stay out overnight. So I told Robert that he'd just have to go out and get it. Which he promptly refused to do. Judy laughed and called him a ninny. So, being the older sister and feeling slightly obliged to set a good I'm-not-afraid-of-no-raccoons example, I sighed and said to never mind, that I would do it. Judy bravely put her sandals on too, we made Robert run upstairs to check that there was no one on the roof, and upon getting the all-clear, we half-tiptoed, half-ran across the backyard (we brought a flashlight too, just to be extra sure we wouldn't encounter any, uh, visitors), grabbed the pillow and ran back in.

Judy picked this point to tell me how, one night a while back, she was leaving our house and walking to her car parked in our driveway, when she suddenly saw a skunk staring at her from not so far away. She fled back to the safety of our house for five minutes and then attempted to leave again, this time successfully. So I will keep my eyes peeled.

Totally enough excitement for one day. Robert says he thinks that last week, before my parents left, he and Mom heard something on the roof but couldn't see anything. We hope we don't have a permanent addition to the family. We're going to keep an eye on things and he may call the Vaughan Pest Control tomorrow if we think it's necessary. Ack. Now all we need is a bat to get into the house. At least there, we have a bat-removal professional on the premises.**

* Except Randal. He's from Winnipeg and well-acquainted with all sorts of animals like that. He's the only one that didn't back up three steps in fear.

** The illustrious Mop Boy, Randal K., aided by his not-so-useful (but loud and squealing) sidekick Bat Girl, of course.


jerome said...

You definitely need to spend more time outdoors!

Did you know that raccoons carry rabies?

Judy said...

That would be the very reason why Julie and I were extremely cautious when going into the backyard to retrieve the hammock pillow.