Not so alone as I thought

It's easy to be enchanted by discoveries in the garden and fields: to realize you are a visitor in a little known world where maybe you are guided by the antics of dog or ct to be aware of all the other unseen elements in the new surroundings. But on the occasions when these move inside to what you consider your domain, where you should have some control, feelings become confused, boundaries unsettled.

Take the ants for instance. For years we had an understanding. So long as they stayed outside there was no interference. However, during a very hot summer, communication broke down and they marched inside, very early in the morning. This delayed breakfast because they had to be dealt with, and this made my husband late for work. A disgraceful interference with our routine. We returned as many as we could, intact, to their territory and hoped they would spread the word around that indoors was forbidden. The wrong message got through. Next morning even more marched in. No doubt what had got around was that there was some tidying up needed in there. They were summarily swept up and tipped outside. We took action and dusted all possible entrances with insect powder. After the few days it took to locate the amazing number of holes into our house, we were mor or less ant proof. But the understanding definitely suffered a setback, because every summer since they have tried it again. I have now invested in a pennyroyal plant, which seems drastic for, after all, the garden is their territory.

Some people, like my husband, feel spiders do not belong indoors. This is a debatable point. What many would feel is not debatable are mice. I have never suffered from them, so have strong feelings about mousetraps. We did have mice in London. I wasn't a housewife then and thought they were rather sweet. My flat mates didn't. More recently, there has been an incident with a mouse that has left me completely in favor of them. Our dog woke me one night in great agitation. She obviously knew something untoward was going on, that an encroachment had taken place and she was unable to cope. Whatever it was was in the spare room. I crept in with Shandy keeping safely behind me.Because of the state she was in, I had visions of a giant rat, so I climbed up onto the bed to peer into the offending corner. Shandy clambered up behind me whining piteously. Then I saw it. A tiny, fluffy, chestnut brown woodmouse with an incredibly long tail. It was adorable. However, it didn't want to be picked up so, after scampering from room to room for half an hour, I gave up and went back to bed. In the morning, it was sitting in the bath, which is where the spiders usually turn up. Perhaps Shandy wisely put it there.I offered it some cheese, but apparently woodmice don't eat cheese, then took it down to the garden where I hoped it would find the rest of its family. I can only assume it climbed up the honeysuckle, because there was no trace or evidence of more mice nor have we had another visit. I felt elated, honored and freer.

I had the same feelings when, very early in the morning, i became aware the robin's song sounded incredibly loud. It wasn't agitated or anxious, just very near. When I finally roused myself and opened an eye, there it was sitting on the bannisters. It was the young robin that had been reared in our garden and had always been inquisitive about what went on in the house. It finished its song and flew off to find the open window. I was glad it hadn't taken any notice of the arbitrary inside/outside territories. it makes me wonder what control I do have in the house. There is much to be said for sharing one's living quarters -- in a limited way.* I'm thinking of the ants again. One would have been quite acceptable, like the mouse and robin; but when they visit in multitudes, something in me just can't cope. Up go the boundaries again . . . though perhaps only ant high now.

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