And Then What Happened?: An open letter to the little creatures


For the Recorder
Published: 12/3/2021 4:52:16 PM
Modified: 12/3/2021 4:51:43 PM

Dear Tiny Outside Animals, from the 16 years I have now stacked up in rural New England, I know that this is the time of year you start filing contracts on winter apartments around the area. I hear your rental agents in the wee hours of the early mornings, checking things out in here, my house, a place you have previously rented, though, “rented” would be a pretty nice word for what you have left me in return for my graciousness: mostly poop, which I cannot use at all.

This year I have three words for you: Oh hell no, not in my house — which is actually seven words, but I don’t think you can count, so I will use them all and then add a few more: Oh hell no, Little Woodland Creatures, you will not live in my house this year.

In previous years I’ve been so busy with work outside the home that I haven’t had a whole lot of time to pay attention to your residency and shenanigans around my place, mostly finding out about it all when I visit my sock drawer and find the insulation work you’ve been doing in there. But this year I am home, I am here and I am paying attention. And since, in this year of renewed COVID-19 I am not very busy with other work, the effort you are putting into planning your big indoor move matches directly my level of figuring out ways to thwart you.

Sure I could call an exterminator, but — and I’m sure you already know this — I recognize you as living creatures with a right to frolic, and not die a miserable, poisonous death. But see, before you were born, back when little dinosaur versions of yourselves roamed the Earth, you roamed it outside. You had your little nests, which worked just fine for your ancestors.

My ancestors took up carpentry and engineering and built houses for me to live in. If you want a house, build your own. That’s the rule.

I see your nests and holes out there around the yard, and that is where you are supposed to live. I paid (and am still paying) for this house, and it is mine. It is not yours.

You contribute nothing but excrement and the occasional late-night entertainment when you run out of the wall into the dining room where I’m working, we both jump and scream at each other, and you run back away. That scene is reminiscent of old 1960s-style television, and it makes me laugh. But the rest of it, the eating of everything I left on the counter, the chewing through my great-grandmother’s quilt, the nesting in my stored summer clothing, all that? That spits in the face of my generosity and I am growing tired of it.

You may have noticed that, over the last year and a half I’ve been fixing up my house; painting the outside to match the fall décor, painting the inside to match my own exuberant style.

You may have also noticed that I have finally started going through the stuff my parents left behind when they took off for heaven and decided they didn’t need all those old family collections anymore. I see where you gathered some of that as building material for your own family collections, but I’m kicking you out of those, too. You are animals — and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, you really are! But animals belong in their own family collections, out among the flowers and the trees, running along the telephone wires and such. You don’t see me out there, skittering along power lines, do you? No. I respect that as your territory and I expect you to respect my territory as my own.

From now on, these are the rules:

Animals: Outside.

People: Inside (and outside, but no scampering on power lines, up and down tree branches or over the roofline.)

If you decide you don’t want to follow these guidelines, Little Animals, I may be inclined — no, forced — to hire a new sheriff: Mr. Cat. At which time I will turn your futures over to him, and will leave him to eat your midnight-dancing butts, just as nature intended.

Think about it, and I will leave your suitcases by the door.

Thank you and good night.

Nan Parati lives and works in Ashfield, where she found home and community following Hurricane Katrina. She can be reached at


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