I dumped a shovel of dirt over the body. The corpse in question, a dead rat, stared at me with a glazed eye before I covered it with a quart of potting soil. Miracle Grow, guaranteed for beautiful blooms. I hope nothing sprouts from this planting.
The rat expired less than a foot from where I’d been digging that morning. I wondered if I’d accidentally clonked him with the shovel as I set out the milkweed plant. Or maybe he’d nibbled on the fresh addition. I’d read that milkweed was poisonous, but I didn’t expect such a fast-acting result.
Of all the solutions to our rat problem, we decided the best answer would be owls. No harmful chemicals, no grisly traps to empty, nothing but the swoop of wings and a quick death to rodents. After Andrew ordered the owl house we discovered it most likely wouldn’t be inhabited until next spring, during nesting season.
“We’ll hang it now in case they decide to move in early,” Andrew said.
My husband is fearless. I’m afraid of climbing heights greater than four feet from the ground, crawling through small spaces, and purchasing things on credit. I admire anyone who is brave enough to scamper up a sixteen-foot ladder. However, someone has to stand at the bottom and hold the ladder steady. I felt the owls would be perfectly happy with a home half as high in the tree, but Andrew disagreed.
I stood there, clutching the shaking ladder, while Andrew scurried up, carrying the owl house and a drill. My mother believed that owls were bad luck. When she was a child, her family had lost two homes to fires. “We heard an owl calling on the roof both times,” she told me. I felt the blaze was more likely because of a faulty chimney or bad wiring, and maybe the owl was just trying to warn them.
The owl lodging secured in place, Andrew climbed down the ladder. I had to admit, now that he was safely at ground level, the house looked nice and snug, high in the tree.
We had a little chickadee investigate the structure, but so far, no owls. At night, though, we can hear their trilling hoots as we stroll through our neighborhood. A creek winds down the back of our property, and native trees crowd along the bank. “It’s a lovely home, perfect for raising a family,” I entreat the birds, “with a wonderful view.”
I have a story on Vocal, inspired by owls. As a bonus, there’s also a dead rodent. You can read it here: A Death Redeemed.
Writer in Plano, Texas trying to get the words out of her head and onto the page. View all posts by mstturpin
Originally published at http://terryeturpin.com on September 11, 2022.