It was in the fall some years back, right about when the leaves have all turned, that I happened to pay a visit with a friend of mine.
He lives at the bottom of the road leading down to one of my favourite fishing streams.
I always park my vehicle at the side of the road, just sort of opposite his house. Sometimes, when I’m just starting to haul my gear out of the vehicle, he will call out, wave me over and invite me in for a coffee. He doesn’t seem to get out fishing as much these days so I don’t mind spending a bit of time chatting.
We were sitting in the kitchen, having a cup of coffee, when I happened to look out the window and noticed something moving in his wood pile. It was silver-grey and had a long furry tail, but it was not a squirrel.
“You’ve got a pack rat in your wood pile,” I said matter-of-factly.
“Yes, I know,” he said, equally matter-of-factly.
He then proceeded to tell me about how he first noticed the pack rat, and how, not wanting to kill the poor thing, he borrowed a neighbour’s live trap.
“It didn’t take too long to catch the little feller,” he said. “Used a bit of peanut butter and got him the first night. Decided to take him out to where there’s some old broken-down remains of a farm. Figured he could move right into one of the buildings and make himself a new home. He was a friendly little guy. I almost hated to see him go.”
“They’re sort of smelly little creatures though,” I intervened.
“I guess so,” he said. “Anyways, when I opened the trap door to let him go he just sort of took a few steps and then set down on his haunches – looking right up at me. I waved my hand at him and told him to skedaddle, but he just sat there.”
I laughed and asked what he did next.
“I just picked up the trap, got in the truck and started driving off,” he said. “I look in the rear-view mirror and he was still sitting there watching me drive away.”
“So how did he get back here,” I asked.
“That’s the funny thing,” he said. “For some reason I couldn’t just leave him sitting there in the middle of the road. So I backed up, got the trap out of the truck and set it down beside him. Darned if he didn’t walk right in like he belonged there.”
He looked me right in the eyes and said, “So I brought him back home a let him go in the woodpile.”