My darling husband, Pat, and I moved back to my family home in the tiny village of Creelman 2 years ago. In the midst of a chaotic and emotional move I amalgamated 3 art studios.
In the intervening 2 years we’ve gotten the main house re-painted, re-curtained and re-floored, and generally made it ours.
Then there’s the basement. Anything that related to my art practice, or otherwise didn’t have a home, landed downstairs. Boxes were stacked to the ceiling sometimes 2 – 3 rows deep. Ever seen “Hoarders“?
Two weeks ago my wonderful son and family came with a trailer load of building supplies and built me 22 feet of floor to ceiling cupboards in my basement studio.
I’ve since found the floor, 4 office desks, and my etching press (the size of a kitchen table.) Armed with a marker, masking tape and a labeller I loaded the shelves and for now can tell you the exact location of almost anything. It’s been a fabulous treasure hunt!!
I also discovered that we did not actually have a salamander in the basement. We had frogs. Tiny frogs less than an inch long. But frogs. I don’t know how they get in, but it’s an old basement.
A few summers ago when I first started using the basement as a studio I’d also discovered frogs. My mom, who was 82 years old at the time would come downstairs, kleenex in hand, and pick up the frogs. Then she’d step out the back door and release them into the wild. If she could do it, I could do it. And I did.
But that was a few years ago, and it would take a little time to screw up my courage to that point again. So I ignored them temporarily.
Turns out I didn’t need to worry about the frogs because yesterday as I cleaned I came across a very small garter snake. Now, if you think you need to gather courage to pick up a frog, triple that for snake. And a kleenex is just not going to cut it.
It was a particularly fast snake too, because very shortly after sighting him in the SW corner of the basement I would see him in the NE corner. Then 2 minutes later in the SE corner. Wait a minute!
The jig was up when he became 1/2 the size he was 5 minutes after a sighting. That day I suspect I saw 4, but fear a nest considering their size. Oh Lawsey!
Fortunately I married a man who played with snakes as a child. I didn’t need to screw up my courage. Pat would take care of them! Either that, or I could lure in the fox I’d seen in the yard in the morning. But, then how to get rid of the fox? Hmmm, it was becoming a zoo!
I cleaned the rest of the day. Safe in the knowledge that Pat would take care of it.
I’d even forget about the little suckers for awhile as I became absorbed by my sorting. But as I charged from one side of the basement to the other I’d stop in my tracks periodically, startled by a snake slithering out of my way as fast as it’s little legs could carry it.
Near the end of the day I rolled a storage container to a new location only to realize I’d run over a snake’s tail. (Do snakes have tails?) I watched in morbid fascination as it struggled in vain to escape. Darting one direction and then another, only to be pulled up short by it’s imprisoned tail! Sucks to be him.
Finally I heard the front door open. The cavalry! “Paaa….aat. I have good news and bad news. We don’t need to worry about frogs in the basement any more…”