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.