The Birthday Birdhouse and Unwanted Visitors

In March, my birthday month, Joe created my birthday present. He spent two weeks working outside on cold windy days to construct what he dubbed “Ginger’s Birdhouse” “The best birthday present ever,” is what I called it. He used a kit purchased online and converted our covered back deck into a screened-in porch. He cut and secured the bronze anodized aluminum frames around the parameter and then, with me supplying the measured and cut screen sections, he completed the job by rolling the screen into the pre-cut groves in the aluminum with a special tool. But this is not all he did. Not satisfied that this new area was completely and hermetically sealed he stapled strips of screen, which I again measured and cut, on the underside of the wood slatted floor. When completed the room was the opposite of an aviary, meant to keep winged creatures out not in.

March and April were just too darn cold for us to make use of this new living area. But as May warmed up we (me, Joe and our two dogs) began sitting outside with our morning coffee and in the evenings with a beer (me) and Joe with a cup of decaf to enjoy the sunset and the cool night air. And all the while I keep telling Joe, “This is the best birthday present ever”. But we soon learned that we were sharing the space with three hugely fat fuzzy scary looking carpenter bees. They sound like tiny airplanes when they fly slowly by you, but Joe assured me that they do not sting. So we decided to leave them be till they die naturally. We assumed they did not break in, but were actually screened in as they were maturing from egg, to larvae, to pupa to a flying insect inside their home, the wood of the deck itself. Either way, they soon ended up in the corners stiff and dried out. I sorta felt sorry for them.

So for the past two weeks when Joe is immersed in his favorite Netflix series, Justified, I have been sitting outside in my Birdhouse with one or more dogs, in the dark, reading, praying, listening to the night sounds, daydreaming and even dozing off. First I listen to the birds sing their good-night-sun serenade, then I watch the bats dive and swirl for their nightly feast and finally the lightening bugs come out, flittering on and off in the trees and bushes below. The sounds of crickets, katydids and cicadas (which have not yet blossomed into their full blown summer symphony) and the scent of wet earth, and humid pollen-filled air produce a Buddhist like calm in my spirit, taking me back to memories of sitting on a back porch on summer nights with my Daddy and at least five siblings. The best memories are when a summer thunderstorm rolled in and we’d huddle around Daddy with each loud crash of thunder. I read somewhere that smells can carry the oldest and most potent memories for us. I know this to be true.

Another thing that I have enjoyed in my Birdhouse at night, is watching the silhouettes of the giant mosquitoes hovering just outside the screen. I purposely keep the light out so as not to attract a million moths and bugs to my abode, thus I cannot see details. But I can see their string legs and the spread of those see-through bug-skin wings. I even taunted them that first night, “Ha ha suckers! I’m in here and you’re not. And you can’t get to me and suck my blood anymore. My days of being your nightly dinner are over. Yeah, that’s right! Your granddad may have gotten some of this rich red blood, but not you.”

But last night when the air was humid and heavy with the scent of wet earth and sopping wood, after a day of rain, I saw a different shadow moving on the screen. I sat in my chair watching only the outline of a dark elongated figure as it moved slowly by. I got up to take a closer look at it but suddenly it was gone. So I sat back down and returned to reading my Kindle. After a bit I looked out again and noticed the same creature moving on the opposite screen. I thought it must have flown around to the other side to get a better view of me and my lit up face. Still not alarmed I got up again to check it out. “Probably a moth attracted by my Kindle’s light,” I thought as I put my face even closer to the object of my interest, and still I could not make out the details. Just a 2 inch long moving shape. So I touched the screen, but to my horror, it was not the screen my finger felt, but the hard crispy wing of a flying wood roach, which immediately alighted off the surface and flew at me. I ran toward the door, tripping over my little dog as I moved, yelling, “Holy F….k!, A flying F….n Roach! Trapped in here with me.” I got to the door and stopped. Breathing hard. It was dark and I could not see where the F….k it was. The light switch is inside the door, and by now Boomer was all excited and wanting to know what was going on. So I gave up, grabbed my stuff and ran into the house, where there is light and noise and no flying roaches. Joe was oblivious to my drama, watching Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder facing it off yet again in Harlan Kentucky.

My Birdhouse – screened in perch.

This morning it was bright and sunny in the Birdhouse. No flying roaches anywhere. Tonight I have only two options. #1. Wait until said evil winged creature from Hades makes his appearance and have Joe go out and kill him, then go out to sit in my Birdhouse with a beer. OR # 2. Let Satan’s creature have the birdhouse each night until he too dies, like the Carpenter bees before him, then go back out and reclaim my turf. I guess I’m gonna have to Google “How long do Flying Roaches from Hell live?”

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