When I was little, and we lived on Greendale Drive in Anchorage, fall arrived with the shrews. While we went about our business - buying new winter coats and enjoying the frosty September mornings - a legion of rodents would begin their annual assault.
Operation Warm and Dry
I, in fact, never saw a live one in the house - just their little mangled corpses pinned beneath a metal bar or a thin, naked tail snaking its way out of the mouth of "Kitty," who was meaner than spit but a fine mouser. Nevertheless, I learned through this experience that home invasions should be frowned upon.
This impression was further reinforced throughout the years. There are those Looney Tunes cartoons featuring a horde of termites that buzz up a wooden home, leaving only a porcelain sink, a tub, and a bewildered couple behind. Then that little baby termite would come and eat up that last toothpick in the guy's mouth. The poor Ingalls family lost their home to those vicious locusts. A cockroach on the counter means there are like twenty thousand in the walls.
And now, as fall approaches, I find that my small-but-fabulous flat is being invaded by a small army of pill bugs.
They're crawling under my back door. This much I know.
Of all the things that I could find every morning on my bath mat, I am happy to say that two or three pill bugs isn't so bad. They don't move quickly, opting for neither "fight" nor "flight" when faced with a stressful situation. Instead, they do this:
Kind of cute, actually.
But even these tiny creatures with their cute little exoskeletons can give me the heebie-jeebies. I blame it all on my Alaska roots - we are taught from a very young age to give moose a wide berth and to never run from a bear, but on the subject of creepy-crawlies we remain largely uneducated and inexperienced.
So it is with a nervous cringe that I tweeze these hapless little critters between my thumb and index finger and fling them out into the back garden (where, I'm sure, they immediately begin the long march back to my bath mat). If they stay still, I'm usually okay. But if they move a tiny little antenna or brush me with one of their hair-like legs, I can't take it. I make a very childish noise and drop them back onto the bathroom floor, where they roll around like tiny billiard balls. And we try again.
I think I'm secretly afraid they are going to run into my mouth.