Sunday, March 18, 2012

Eats Barks and Stays. Oranges Too!

"Enough was enough," was the general sentiment around our household last week when Celine finally cracked and had had it with sweeping all the stuff that kept falling out of our biggest, most majestic pencil cyprus tree on the terrace.

For the past month, a big pile of detritus made up of cyprus needles, chewed cyprus cones, tree bark, and poop has been greeting her when she arrives in the morning. She was getting blisters from all that sweeping.

What the heck was living up there?

Hey!  Stop that!
Well, Auntie decided to do a little investigating of her own so she and Celine got the longest broom we had in the house and together we poked at a big clump of a nest made of cyprus needles, cones and chewed bark to see if something would fall out.  We were hoping that the something was an animal, without a temper, but all that fell out was cyprus needles, cones, chewed bark and poop.  Most of it fell into our hair.  So much for investigative research. 

Did you see anything?
We've had our share of beasts roaming here and there and from time to time in the garden.

Years ago it was a  pretty pheasant whose life was cut short by a neighbour with a hunting  rifle  and  dinner guests who liked stuffed pheasant.

After the pheasant fiasco, a badger moved in, dug holes under some of the olive trees and then vanished.  Then of course there was Cat  who came and went and popped up in Tokyo last year as a stage star.

The suspect
The general consensus was that we had another tree rat like the one in September's post, "Wanted:  Cats who eat Rats."  But when Celine, with her keen, young, eyes and a magnifying glass pointed out that the poop falling out of the tree was too big for a tree rat, the plot thickened.

When I discovered chewed up oranges in the garden, this meant war!
This means war!

Plan "A", mothballs around the tree.  It didn't work



Later that night, after Uncle Jim and I had finished watching a movie, I grabbed a flash light and snuck out onto the terrace.  All was quiet and the moon was full.  Slowly I made my way in the moonlight to the bottom of the Cyprus tree.  I paused for a moment to let my eyes adjust to the darkness.  I snapped on the flash light and aimed it high into the tree and... yipes!  There it was staring down at Auntie from its perch!  It was a big furry animal that looked like a giant mouse!  I yelled for Uncle Jim but by the time he arrived, the giant mouse-monster had hidden itself.

Eric the gardener joins in the mystery
Early the next day, I told Celine about the giant mouse and she did some research.  She was sure that the varmint  living in the cyprus tree wasn't a rat at all.  Based on my description  it was probably a dormouse!  

If you're ever read Alice in Wonderland, one of the characters was a dormouse who was always falling asleep.  This makes sense since dormice are nocturnal so daytime was sleep time for the little critters.  This also explained why we never saw our dormouse during the day.  It was probably snoozing away.

Now that we knew what we were dealing with, it was time to pull out the big guns, aka, the gardener, Eric.

On Thursday, he bravely climbed into the cyprus tree  using a really long ladder and dismantled the nest.  He didn't see any critters.  I guess they were in the garden eating my oranges.

Eric recommends a trap. 

Stay tuned as the plot thickens... 

`You might just as well say,' added the Dormouse, 
who seemed to be talking in his sleep,
 `that "I breathe when I sleep" is the same thing 
 as "I sleep when I breathe"!'  Alice in Wonderland

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