Friday, July 1, 2011

The Control of Nature

The Control of Nature is John McPhee's bestselling account of places in the world where people have been engaged in all-out battles with nature. In Louisiana, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has declared war on the lower Mississippi River, which threatens to follow a new route to the sea and cut off New Orleans and Baton Rouge from the rest of the United States. Icelanders confront flowing red lava in an attempt to save a crucial harbor. In Los Angeles, basins are built to catch devastating debris flows from the San Gabriel Mountains.


When we humans decide to "control" nature, that urge does not arise from encounters with butterflies or sweet spring days, nope. It's always about some virulent bacteria, natural disasters or vermin.

Here at the chateau, I'm about to engage in some serious battle with vermin. Oh yeah. I'm not talking about the cute little mice that we dealt with at the house on Tennessee Avenue. Nope, based on the size of the poo I found under my sink yesterday and this morning, it's one of the big ones, the rodent whose name must not be mentioned.

The thing about rats is: they're smart. They're really smart. When we had one at the house where I work, it almost got stuck in a sticky trap. It got away, and never came back. Hmmm .... same thing upstairs at the chateau. They set traps, caught nothing but the critter got the hell outta Dodge. Today during a break at work I'm going to buy a sticky trap, put it under the sink. I'm absolutely, cold bloodedly determined to triumph over the beast, though I'm asking myself, if this dude gets stuck in the trap tonight, then what? Because I sure don't want to see it, let alone touch it or in any other way deal with it. If it gets stuck, I will leave the house and not return until I find someone brave enough to face the monster, take it out and dispatch it in some way or another. My hope is that it will see the trap and vamoose. Can you hold that thought for me?

Last night it chewed the sponge I use to wash dishes, but spit out the pieces. I guess it didn't taste good. Sponge in garbage can. Counter thoroughly cleaned. Me saying EWWWWWW over and over again.

Oh yeah, some aspects of nature beg for control, they really do. I will not share the chateau with one of these guys. I will prevail. I will. Do you believe me?


steven said...

reya i have expressed the terms of residency to any living creature other than the people and the odd goldfish that wishes to use this home as a temporary or permanent address and they are that they are welcome to use any part of the property outside the walls as they wish. once inside they cede several rights depending on their habits. once a year i walk to the back and then the front door and state these terms loudly enough that on one occasion my sweet neighbour (in our next chat) expressed some curiousity as to whether that meant that our previously successful get-togethers were going to come to an inglorious end. some bugs are welcome, although my son has developed difficulties with spiders and so i've taught him how to catch and release to spare him the possibility of bad luck accruing to his otherwise unbesmirched experiencing of this world. good luck with the rat!! steven

Reya Mellicker said...

I've had encounters with rats several times in the past. They are always harbingers of change, and I'm assuming this guy is also an emmissary of change, unbenownst to him, probably.

I too speak to the creatures, explaining exactly what's going to happen should they choose to remain.

Your neighbors must surely love you so much.

I get a lot of crickets in here, sweet chirping dudes. I always catch and release them with all good thoughts. They have a gentle vibration.

With the rat, the funny thing is, I felt a presence a few days ago but assumed it was a ghost. Ha.

The Bug said...

I hope you're successful & that you have a friend who's willing to get it for you if you catch it!

When I was in Zambia I once found a rat in my toilet in the middle of the night (AFTER I used it I might add - ewww). I followed my instincts & flushed, put the lid down, shut the bathroom door & spent the night with my feet tucked under me in the bed. It was gone in the morning (who knows where). I could have gone to get the guard, but I didn't want to wake him up :) The missionaries all laughed at me the next day.

ellen abbott said...

You should use a regular spring loaded rat trap. they are less cruel than the sticky traps. death is almost always instantaneous with a trap. bait it with peanut butter and put it in a paper bag. put the paper bag along the baseboard or on the kitchen counter along the backsplash. when it springs trap, rat and goo will be contained in the bag. just pick up the bag and throw it away.

Tess Kincaid said...

A few years ago, I discovered that the group of mice attacking the manor pantry was actually one rat the size of a small cat. It's a long story, but I am very relieved to report it no longer lives here.

Reya Mellicker said...

Ellen wow - put the trap in a bag! That is so smart! We tried the spring traps at work with peanut butter but the eat was too smart. He was able to get almost all the pb off the spring without tripping the trap. These are DC rats - smarter than you would believe. I don't want to be cruel but I need what works. It's me against him. I'll do what I have to.

Reya Mellicker said...

The rat not the eat - spell correct made the typo. Tess how did you dispatch the beast? Ellen I'll talk to the guys at the hardware store about what works best.

On days like today I really wish I had a dog or cat - or a boyfriend!

Ronda Laveen said...

I was afraid to trap until about a year ago. There was a critter in my massage room whose demise was imminent when he decide to move beyond my storage room. My friend and fellow therapist, Kate...or Trapper Kate as I've come to call her, declared war. I meekly followed.

But she taught me the right trap to use and a little trick someone had taught her. Mice and rats can't resist Slim Jims--you know, those long sausage sticks. Yep, they love 'em. Just tear a piece off and bait the trap. The longest it's taken to catch the thief has been two days. Usually the first night we'll have a taker. Make sure the trap is big enough and I love Ellen's bag idea. I usually just put the trap on a pile of paper towels or news paper.

Val said...

sometimes you just have to Reya. i hate rat traps but they do work best i am afraid. we are part of the natural order or things and as such we can declare our territories just like everything else. can you borrow a cat or a dog, or a bf?? goodluck!
puttng the trap in a bag is such a clever idea!

Reya Mellicker said...

I'm quite relieved to learn there are no rat lovers among us. I wish we wouldn't use them in lab experiments - I'm against ALL animal experimentation.

And i'm cool with the people who keep tame rats as pets. I don't understand but I accept.

But when a rasty DC rat decides to move in, that's it!

Slim Jims, eh? I'll give it a go. Just call me Trapper Reya. Oh yeah.