Last week John and Greg set out to derat the roof.
Tomato stakes bought from Hedgy on County Boundary Road which is the same place we get our eggs and next door to Becs were used with bird wire to fill the gap between the mud wall and the corrugated iron roof .
They worked most mornings measuring cutting and stapling until with the exception of the glasshouse they had been all the way around the house.
John’s hands were shot to pieces from the wire and a crick or three in the neck but what followed was a lot of high fiving and back slapping along with a general air of hallelujah that compelled us into the car and off to Bermi to celebrate.
If you have neighbours like this you will understand our euphoria. They are horribly noisy and though there is usually a python in residence up there they remain unashamedly active with wild squealing sex and we know what that leads to …a lot of babies.
Bec met up with us on the verandah of the pub and we all signed up for a round or two of James Squire.
The fresh ocean wind ruffled our curls and goose bumped our arms, an abrupt change from the solid days heat of the valley. The mountain loomed over Horseshoe Bay as it does and provided a thick blue backdrop to the white-capped waves.
We went next door and ate in the dining room , the original part of the hotel with its old black and white photographs of heroes like Zane Grey holding up huge marlins.
The glasshouse will be get done another day but for now we are rat roof free. Mostly I have been trapping them using bread and marmalade before taking them on a permanent holiday to somewhere else.
It is a heavy responsibility and I feel bound to defend myself.
So I say , this house is mine, out there is yours, cross the line and I will come after you .
Even so they flood over the line like refugees bailing a leaky boat. Last week a pregnant rat sat by the woodpile at the front door making eye contact with me. She kept turning up all over the place and the middle of the day would find her eating crumbs on the verandah that are put out for the superb blue wrens .
I cannot help you I tell her, you have to leave.
eventually she wandered into the trap drawn by the smell of sweet limes . I wish her and her offspring well, just not here.
The roof quietened but coming out to the kitchen one morning I found the lid off the tall tin that houses our saos.
and again the next morning and this went on until John discovered a chewed up sao still in the tin. beats me how that worked . the tin did not get knocked over and the traps I set remained set.
so the other night when I woke to hear the lid clang onto the slate floor I decided to have a squizz.
By the time I got to the pantry and flicked the light on it is quiet.
I put the sao tin up on the bench out of harms way .
Back to bed and just getting comfy when we hear another clatter.
it is 2.20 a.m I note on my return to the kitchen to find the the ryvita tin under seige so up onto the bench it goes.
There is no scurrying not even a whisper.
Back to bed and crash clatter bang.
Give me the torch, says John.
He does a stealth mission and glimpses a brief movement diving off the shelf and disappearing down onto the floor behind the food bins.
We pull the bins out and look for the cubby but there is nothing to be found.
except pushed right at the back of the shelf a forgotten tin of pastry shells that has the lid off and evidence of scoffing.
How do they get the lids off ? asks Jess .
clever I guess and totally committed to surviving.
I send Bec a text ‘beans n’polenta for tea if you want’ . She wants and turns up after her afternoon shift at the gallery.
We enjoy a beer on the verandah watching the garden the birds and the little king play.
Greg says, is that a lid? and goes to investigate.
We find him broom in hand welding the pointy end behind the bins hunting the intruder .
Pulling one of their storage boxes out, Greg decides to tape it up in case it is the bolthole.
We checked it this morning , I say .
In the moment of stretching the tape onto the carton Greg shrieks (he may deny this ).
And the squeals reverberate around the kitchen. The rat ran down my calf , he says.
It ran straight at me, yells Bec jumping up and down outside the pantry as if by lifting her feet off the ground she will be safe.
It ran behind the stove, screams Jess waving the flipper in her hand.
I start squealing then and have to climb onto a chair while they sort things out. Kingston clamors onto the chair next to me and adds his screeches .
hysteria has set in and we all hop on for a ride. the broom pokes into the woodpile and apparently the rat is seen tearing off under the blue cupboard. It is huge , someone yells.
So far I haven’t seen a thing but I am laughing so hard I wished I had taken the time to relieve my bladder .
I hold on and we pursue it into the lounge room with our torches shining under chairs and cupboards and come up empty handed.
We could hope that our laughter has sent it running for the bush where no screeching loonies exist.
Things settle down, we dry our eyes and eat the beans n’ polenta with a ‘pig in the garden’ Shiraz from Cowra.
that laughter that rocked our kitchen that night came right out of a bottle of pure fun, a tidal wave of family love.
the best laugh I have had all week, said Bec before she headed back home to her Figtree studio.
And we have a bush rat to thank for that.
A bush rat that we haven’t seen or heard anything of since.