04:55:05 pm on
Thursday 18 Jul 2024

Racoon in the Rafters
AJ Robinson

In the movie “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” James Mason played Professor Oliver Lindenbrook. In one scene, when the team is trying to sleep, Lindenbrook tells the story of how his wife, usually the night before he was to give an important lecture, would hear mice in the attic. He would go up there, holding on to a broom, and try to quiet them. Recently, we had our own version of that issue at our house.

We had a raccoon in the attic.

It started out one night a few weeks ago. My wife heard something scamper across our roof, and our dogs, Romeo and Juliet, went nuts and raced out into the yard to bark at something. Me? I slept through the whole thing. When I’m asleep, I am a-sleep! She told me about it the next day.

We hoped it was a one-time deal, but that was not the case. The critter returned night after night for more than a week. Finally, we decided to cut down the small tree outside our bedroom window. We figured that had to be how it was getting up on the roof. Getting out the chainsaw, I did the old “slice and dice” on that little tree, and felt satisfied that I’d dealt with the situation.

We had only just begun.

After that, the racoon changed its approach. She or he went up the big oak in the front yard. This led to a major change in its pattern of movement. It found the broken vent in the center of the roof, gaining access to the attic. This meant that my wife did not get a decent night’s sleep thereafter. I had to do something about it.

As our house does not have a right and proper attic (really just a crawlspace), I couldn’t do as Lindenbrook did and try to chase the raccoon out with a broom. We tried old-fashion mousetraps, but no luck. We got the chainsaw out, again, and trimmed the tree branches away from the house, yet, no luck. I had to get out rather short ladder out and climb on the roof, which wasn’t easy. It meant I had to get on the top rung and hoist myself up. Once there, I found the broken vent. We figured that since it was midday, the raccoon had to be off doing whatever it is raccoons do during the day.

We were wrong.

Using some tools, I covered the hole and that night we realized we’d sealed the raccoon inside the roof. This time, even I heard him. We went ahead and left him in there a full day and night. I got some thin sheet metal from “Home Depot.” After that, I again got up on the roof and tore off the patch. Getting down from the roof, for me, was never easy. I had to lie on my belly, our roof is covered with pebbles, slide to the edge and then my wife would guide my feet to the top of the ladder.

That night, the raccoon left, glad to be free of his attic prison.

This was our chance! Early the next morning, we got to work. By this time, we were old hands at the task. I tossed up the extension cord, set the ladder by the corner, spread an old blanket on the pebbles and set my tools and materials on the roof. Climbing up, I made my way to the vent.

I used foam insulation material to fill the cracks. Before it set, two sheets of thin metal were set in place and screwed down tight. There was a bunch of twisted metal left over from the old vent. I tossed all of it on top of the plates to form yet another barrier to access. Finally, an old piece of lumber went in, to help hold the vent lid up, and then the lid.

I passed the tools and materials to my wife. Again, I hoped for the last time, I lay on the roof and slid to the edge. Climbing down that ladder, I had quite the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Did it work?

Let me put it this way: my wife is sleeping soundly through the night again.

Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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