Now as most of you probably know, living in an apartment or house of any kind usually involves dealing with critters of one variety or another: flies, mosquitos, bees, spiders, cockroaches, mice, etc. are par for the course.
Growing up, I remember the occasional cricket finding its way into our basement, and when I was young, I burst into tears one time when I thought my father was about to kill one such intruder. Eventually, my dad managed to collect the cricket in some kind of a glass or jar and release him back into the wilds, where I imagine he was probably eaten by some other creature lurking outside.
When I was about six, I spent an afternoon playdate in the woods with my friend, and the next morning discovered a tick attached to the back of my neck. I didn't know it was a tick of course; I just reached back to scratch an itch and discovered something lodged there that wouldn't move when I touched it.
I can only imagine the horror my mother must have felt when I asked her what it was. Luckily, my dad hadn't left for work yet, and he calmly announced that he was going to have to stick a burning match to the back of my neck and then pull the tick out.
I immediately dissolved into a fit of noisy tears, and I remember my dad wedging my head between his knees and lighting the match. Luckily, steady hands of a surgeon that he has, I didn't feel a thing, and the tick was successfully extracted. This was also in the days before Lyme disease, so that was one less thing to worry about.
It's funny the vividness of these memories after all these years, and I remember watching my dad opening the garage door to leave for work following the tick removal and discovering that my hysterics had left a stream of tears and snot on his pants. That's gratitude for you.
I have found San Francisco to be surprisingly free of critters for the most part compared to other places I've lived. Other than the occasional fly or spider, I have seen nothing.
Until we moved to our house. We have seen nothing for the first year here, and then one night a while back, on the way home from work late one night, I saw three raccoons marching across the street near our house, and then, a couple of months ago, Steve came up from our garage which is also our laundry room, and announced that he had seen something run from behind the dryer to under the stairs.
This "thing" was either a mouse, or a mole, he wasn't sure. But it was small and brownish and fast. I'm not a person who is particularly afraid of mice, but still, I don't want them to start finding their way up into our living quarters. It would be better if we still had a cat, as I imagine that the dog would be useless.
I grew up with mice in our basement, and I remember watching my dad removing their stiff little bodies from, and then re-setting, the snap traps. This was probably not the best idea for a surgeon, since one good snap could break a finger, but oh well.
Needless to say, when Steve saw our houseguest, I immediately called in a pest control service, and they came out and put down traps of various varieties, and since doing this we have caught, exactly...nothing. Not a one.
I had started to convince myself that maybe the mouse had just been a straggler, or maybe Steve had been hallucinating. It can happen.
But about a month ago, when I had been lulled into a false sense of security, I went down to do laundry at about 8pm. I was standing there by the dryer, when suddenly something streaked by me. As it had before, it ran from behind the dryer and disappeared under the stairs. It was definitely a mouse, and since it startled me, I let out a cry, kind of an "Ahhhh!" Not really an "Eeeeeek" but close enough.
Let's just say, I'm not going to win any toughness awards with that display. The dog heard it upstairs and started barking his head off. You'll notice, though, that he didn't come running to my rescue or anything. No, he just made a lot of noise, hoping that such a loud display would hide the fact that he was, in fact, too afraid to come down and face this creature head-on.
I can hardly blame him. I went to sleep that night afraid that the mouse was going to start following me everywhere I went. In the middle of the night, Steve's hand brushed down the side of my leg, and I started awake, saying "I just felt the mouse".
Steve thought I was crazy, but he's kind of used to my odd middle-of-the-night behavior. I once, in my sleep. pulled his pillow out from under his head, waking him up. When he asked what I was doing, I explained that I had thought it was a football. At the time, it made perfect sense.
My Wine for Critters, Part I is a Quattro Mani Franciacorta DOCG sparkling wine. This bubbly hails from the Lombardia region of Italy, which is in Northern Italy, bordering Switzerland to the north, and wedged between the Piedmont and Veneto regions.
Quattro Mani translates to "four hands" and is the product of four different Italian winemakers seeking to make terroir-driven wines using mostly Italian varietals, in this case Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Nero.
This wine is a beautiful summer sipper, with notes of green apple, toasty bread, and lemon curd. It is absolutely delicious with summer salads and light, hard cheeses. A favorite of critters everywhere.
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