Home Island Life A Ghostly Morning Concert

A Ghostly Morning Concert


Farm house night

As summer says sayonara to the Pacific Northwest, the sun begins to limit its appearance daily by minutes. In June, when I bound out of bed at 5 a.m., every ray of light is eagerly on the scene, and every songbird is heralding a new day; but now, when my feet hit the floor, darkness and silence prevail.

As I trundle downstairs to make coffee and plan my day, Gracie stakes claim to the entire bed, disappearing in the comforter folds like a loosely-wrapped bulldog burrito. Coffee cup in hand, computer on, darkness at my door, I am ready to face the world, but before I can type a word, the oddest sound resonates within earshot—a hollow eerie tapping sound, like fingernails on a window.

I live in a century-old farmhouse, so the first reasonable place I go is “ghosts.” Yep, a little morning mischief from Casper and friends, surely. I stand up to investigate further, but after taking two steps, the sound ceases. I enter the kitchen, nothing. I tiptoe into the dining room, nada. I listen upstairs to hear if it’s Gracie’s need-to-be-trimmed nails striking against the fir floorboards. Silence. So back I go to my nook, cold coffee and plans for world domination.

Within seconds of my backside hitting the captain’s chair, the ghostly prattle resumes. I now notice a musicality about it, almost xylophonic like my ghost has assembled a steel drum band. Up I go again to find the source of this unsettling pre-dawn concert. Upstairs, downstairs, porches, closets, pantries, and drawers, I canvass them all, but the specters mock me with stillness.

I decide to ignore the on-again, off-again ghostly prattle and continue my morning ritual, though spouting, “Enough!” every once in a while just to let the band members know, “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.”

Hours later, I come back in from the greenhouse to feed Gracie who is now awake and demanding breakfast (uh, make that brunch). In the pantry, I pop the lid a small galvanized garbage can I use to store dog food. Peering up at me from the bottom of the can is a rather handsome field mouse, one straight out of Disney central casting. “Ah, so you’re my ghost,” I say. Then, as if on cue, my little topo gigio circles the can for a less muted, more bombastic command performance. “Bravo! Bravo!” I cheer, before releasing him to the wilds, my mystery now solved.

You may think this story is over, but there’s just a bit more to share. Days later, I was about to bribe Gracie with a treat, when I reached into a biscuit box, only to pull up two milk bones and a mouse. Yep, he was back. Good thing I don’t have a heart condition, because realizing one of the dog biscuits in your hand is covered in fur and squirming for freedom can really get your circulation going and the mouse flying.

"Let me entertain you..."
“Let me entertain you…”


  1. Glad you don’t have a weak heart, Tom! Mice in the house in the fall and winter just seem to come with the territory.

  2. Gah!!!
    I’ve experienced the handful of mouse before–my screech was probably giving the neighbors the idea there was a banshee about!
    That top photo would be the PERFECT Halloween photo!
    Have a wonderful mouse-free week.

  3. Great photos! And what a story. I am extremely lucky to have a cat because I would probably be thinking about moving houses (& ceding territory to the mouse). I am a rodent wimp.

  4. This would make a wonderful Halloween tale ( mouse tail) really. I am glad you don’t frighten easily – it would have been a different story for me . I am glad that you and Gracie are doing well.

  5. That was my life on an everyday basis until we remodeled the kitchen of our 1928 house 5 years ago, and we found a 4-inch hole behind the kitchen cabinetry…
    How are you doing?

    • Hi Eileen, I sure understand that. 😉 Once I lived in lakeside cabin, and I thought I was going crazy as things went missing in the kitchen. And then I discovered the hole in pantry wall behind the drawers and a year’s worth of sourdough bread wrappers. As for how am I doing, thanks for asking. Eileen, you know how empty the house is without Pipi, well it’s still like that here without Boz, but I have Gracie to come home to and spoil. She was pretty depressed it seemed, and wasn’t eating and pretty much ignoring me. This week she’s perking up and cuddling up on the sofa with me. So it’s getting better, but dang, I miss my Boz so much.

  6. Do you have a hole in your dog food receptacle? I hope the critters can’t chew through those as I store the alfalfa pellets I feed to my rose bushes in one of those.
    Did I tell you about the electric fence Steve built around the raised bed where rats or mice were consuming our tomatoes? I think it stunned them enough that they finally started wandering into the snap traps we had left under the plants from previous tries at extermination. We are harvesting many more ripe tomatoes than before:-)

    • Ah Karen, you wily gardeners. I had deer break into my greenhouse and chew down my tomatoes, but the vines and fruit are now on the rebound. As for the container, it’s galvanized, but I left the lid unlocked and loose. So I’m sure the little guy rappelled down the sides in a black turtleneck ala mission impossible. 😉

  7. Cute, Tom!

    Don’t know about your island, but on ours [Anderson] we have had a virtual infestation of mice and voles this year . . . . chewing up entire rows of beans, nibbling on pumpkins, and what not. Local buzz is that the coyotes have decimated the population of wild cats and so the rodents are out in force. And so brazen too!

    • Rick we have coyotes too, all of the sudden, well at least since last year. It’s surprising how they can make it onto our islands, must be great swimmers. Puget Sound is freezing, I know.

      • Well, Tom, I don’t think Coyotes swim.
        I think people, rumored to be animal activists, take them places and drop them off. That happened to us . . . twice . . . back in the late 60’s two “hippies” were spotted by a deckhand with two coyote pups in their vehicle. Not there when they left the island. We then had a population explosion until the early 80’s, when they were trapped and deported and disappeared. When McNeil became a wildlife refuge, supposedly they, at the instigation of, maybe, PETA, allowed coyotes over there. The conventional wisdom on Anderson Island is that some activists dropped a few off here too. I don’t think you’ll ever find them swimming . . . especially not in Puget Sound. Worth doing some research on, though. Have you read “God’s Dog?” Great book about Coyotes!

  8. This was such an entertaining read. I love hearing about small and precious moments like these — they make me feel like I’m living in Vashon Island paradise!


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