The plagues are not all known. They come from all sides. They seem to come because we invite them. We invite them by inviting life. For plagues are life, after all: too much of one kind of life, more than we can handle, or accept, or sustain. A kind or quantity of life which seems determined to disrupt our own. We work to establish a rhythm and balance which feeds itself and us. A plague knocks out this balance, makes the cycle ever more susceptible.
There was a squirrel in our house.
Despite the firm, clear, confident reassurances I gave her that the squirrel making noises in the roof of our upstairs bathroom could not get in our house, it did. Zelda, inside with neighbor Camille, came to the kitchen door, opened it to Jeff and I outside in the sun, doing our chores, putting into motion our left-for-a-sunny-day-in-February ideas, and she said this: THE SQUIRREL IS IN OUR HOUSE. WIGHT NOW. FOR WEAL.
She was clear and brave and calm, our little girl. And indeed, the squirrel that had not once but twice chewed into the dormer on the front of the house to burrow and scratch and sleep, throwing insulation all over the neighborhood and keeping Jeff up all night and on the roof all day for three days - that squirrel had become so stuck in the wall that it had chewed a hole around the water pipe near the back of the toilet and escaped - into the inside of our house. Of course, it was all too happy to be helped out the front door. And we all laughed in shock and leftover panic.
And Jeff bought a bigger and better trap, and the stake out resumed, and poor Zelda hears that little wild beast in every bump and creak - but we have seen no sign of it since.
So. Back to the rhythm, or what is left of it. The trap yawns wide next to the patched hole. Jeff scans the roof with binoculars. The bird feeder swings empty and battered in the wind. Linden moans with fear as she pees, perched on the toilet and glaring out the corner of her eye at the drywall dust still scattered around the ragged hole.
It's just a squirrel. One nutty, territorial, little wild animal.
Jeff told me last night that shortly after the event, while Zelda was doing what we call 'processing' - that she told him: One time, when I was in my bed sleeping? A squirrel came and - Scratched Out My Eyes! Imagine, along with the words, a demonstration: her little faced scrunched and crumpled, her hands clawing at her eye sockets with tensed fingers.
As usual, she cut right to the emotional core of the situation.
A plague. Circumstances out of our control. Fear and loathing.
But c'mon. It is a squirrel.
At least the raccoons haven't come knocking yet.