I grew up in a big city in Germany. We were lucky: we had a back yard with strawberries, red currant bushes, a huge chestnut tree and a small patch of green grass to play on.
The properties next to our little paradise were concrete parking lots. Even the fence was grey — a tall concrete wall, where I once cut my wrist climbing.
After growing up, studying and living in big German cities, I decided to leave my comfort zone to find a little bit more nature, space and peace in my life. That was four years ago.
I ended up living in an apartment in Riverdale. Not fully satisfied with weekend trips to the country, I soon found myself a little cabin in the woods.
Here in my cabin, the view from my large windows is stunning. I see a variety of birds each day and a few elk visit me nightly. Sound like Disneyland? It could be if I didn’t have a tyrannizing critter living between my ceiling and the roof.
Itonly took me about three months to finally discover what was up there keeping me from my favourite thing to do: sleep.
Armed with a rubber club I can almost set my alarm by when it starts to scratch and chew, alternating from wood to the metal roof between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. It might be several hours before the chewing and scurrying stops. And it all depends on the rodent’s mood whether banging on the wall with my club will have any effect at all. It’s a living nightmare.
Speculations about flickers, bats, martens and of course squirrels were made. And then one night, on my way to the outhouse, something glided gracefully next to me into the snow. It scurried to one of the trees nearby, scaled it, and jumped spread-eagle to another tree, as if it wanted to sail through some waves: A flying squirrel.
From that point on, it wasn’t invisible to me anymore, but it was still un-catchable.
My landlady decorated the outdoors with peanut-butter-loaded life traps. They are designed to catch the critter alive so we can let it go again — somewhere far, far away. But these traps seem to only attract the local birds.
My boyfriend started experimenting with different ways to seal off the roof, except for one corner, in order to redirect the critter into one of the traps. Since then I can hear the squirrel squeezing itself in and out of everywhere except the hole left for it.
After months of not sleeping through the night, I am bothered by dreams about giant creeping rodents; I fall asleep at work and am lethargically unmotivated; I am snippy and unsupportable. This leads to difficulty in every interpersonal relationship.
I have no interests in friends or activities after work. The only thing I am passionate about is daydreaming of finally having a good night sleep. But these wishes remain dreams.
Living in the woods with a flying squirrel as a roommate is not the peaceful life I expected. I am asking myself these days if I would be better rested and more pleasant to be around if I were living in downtown Toronto next to a bar.
Seriously, as I wrote these last sentences the little bugger was sitting outside of my window, looking over my shoulder.
On second thought, maybe I prefer this interesting creature ruling my life to drunks partying.