Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rats and Laughter

Since we seem fated every few years to be infested by rodents in our attic, we can fortunately call on an unusual exterminator, whose visits ligthen the experience.

He would have made an excellent university lecturer since he not only studied entomology at the Univ. of Florida but knows the daily habits of mice, rats, squirrels, and other critters. With humor and great animation, he talks to me at length about how they live and how more interesting and intelligent they are than insects. Finding their entry-ways is a strategy for him. "If I were a squirrel," he will say, "this is what I would do." A demonstration then ensues.

I have learned many things from this erudite ratcatcher, including the fact that squirrels sleep at night whereas mice and rats are nocturnal, rising from their afternoon naps in early evening to rummage around. So what we hear at night cannot, alas, be the sound of squirrels.

Sometimes I think it is easier to get rid of rats than of the loquacious ratcatcher, who enjoys nothing more than explaining to us much more than we need or want to know. A five-minute conversation easily expands into thirty-five minutes. But Lynn is delighted to hear from him the colorful details about little creatures she can include in her stories for children, and I come away pleased to know a man who enjoys his work so much and who turns what could be disgusting or slightly alarming into something entertaining.

I keep discovering that I don't have to search for things to be grateful for. These often involve the indispensable element of laughter.

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