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Thursday, December 9, 2010

City vs. Countryside Part 2

Being too close to nature was a hidden difference between living in the city and living in the countryside. The first night in our home, I decided to enjoy the spectacular night sky. Unbeknownst to me, there were creatures lurking in the susuki. Large creatures rustled in the grass and made snorting and shrieking sounds. It was dark and I couldn’t see beyond the porch light. I had heard from a neighbor that wild boar were in the neighborhood. I kept a safe distance from the edge of my property. The sounds of snorting and shrieking were eerily familiar. I had heard the sound many years ago on a camping trip to Prairie Creek Redwoods in Northern California. It was the sound of an elk trying to gain the attention of a female. Judging from the sound of the thrashing going on, it was a large deer trying to find a doe. The shrieking was loud and could be heard echoing off the distant hills.
Other creatures that roam the neighborhood were raccoons, weasels, fox, and mamushi. I saw a dead raccoon on the road nearby, and I saw a red weasel cross the road. What I didn’t expect to see was a squished mamushi. A mamushi is a pit viper. I had no idea that poisonous snakes were active in cold weather. This little guy was on the road about ¼ of a mile away. This gave me something to think about when I finally bring the dogs to Japan. A snake preventive fence will have to be built before the dogs arrive. I heard a story from a friend that dogs have immunity to mamushi venom. I plan to take serious precautions anyway. Gardening will have to be done with heavy boots. Every time I crouch down, I’ll have to be aware of the dangers. Ah, living in the countryside is not all fun and games. That was a quick rundown of the creatures that live outside.
Let’s talk a little bit about the creatures inside of our home. When I first entered our home, I was shocked to see these huge black moths lying on the floor, dead. Erika was horrified. She wanted to sell the house right away. As I climbed the stairs, I found more and more of them. They were all over the place. On the third floor (attic), I found a skylight covered with them. Most of the moths were still alive. I propped the window open and nudged them outside. Erika wouldn’t let me downstairs until I disinfected my shoes. I later found out that the moths have a unique ability to compact themselves to fit into the tiniest of cracks. Our home has lots of cracks. I spent the majority of my vacation trying to plug those cracks.
Other creatures that lurk in the cracks are cockroaches. Almost every evening at just about the same time, I would find a cockroach scrambling across the floor. This was my first introduction to the wonderful world of cockroaches. Erika gave me a quick lesson. “Kill it. They’re disgusting!!” The cockroaches measured 2 inches long by 1 inch wide. She told me they could fly and were very fast. Armed with a shoe, I proceeded to do as my wife ordered. I didn’t want to kill it, but it was either the cockroach or my marriage. An insect of that size does not die easily. After I smashed it a couple of times and its guts were all over the place…it continued to move its legs. Whack! The first of many cockroach kills. Over the course of 3 weeks, I believe I squashed 7 of them. After the third or fourth one, we decided to use bait. I also continued plugging cracks with foam and sealant. I was beginning to feel uneasy about sleeping on the floor at night. I was also becoming more sensitive to the sounds of crackling paper and clicking I was hearing in the kitchen at night.
Another insect I found in great abundance was what I called a “stink bug”. It was a ½ inch disc shaped bug that gave off a stink if touched. The smell can’t be washed out of your clothes. The little bug flies along and bumps into whatever it hits, a clumsy but effective way of finding its next target. The insect isn’t harmful. It just makes your clothes stink and they are everywhere.
 I also saw the largest hornet ever in the history of mankind. This thing was the size of a small bird and bright orange. It was easy to tell if it were in the neighborhood. The sound it made was like a squadron of attack helicopters. I called it a, “little terrorist”. Whenever I could hear it approaching, I got out of its way…in a hurry. I don’t want to know what it would be like to be stung by such a menacing creature.


1 comment:

  1. perhaps the large hornet was a giant asian hornet? very scary!!

    roaches are difficult. i suggest leaving bay leaves all around (behind the refrigerator, in the back of cupboards, etc.) because they hate the smell.

    gotta love old houses! ;)