"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lord of the flies--chapter 3--Creature conundrum

The next morning the mystery deepened. I went into the back yard and walked around to where I'd nailed the shingles over the previous hole.

The shingles had been ripped off.

They were scattered and twisted askew, exposing the hole over the eave. I had used old shake shingles, but they had been nailed, I thought, firmly in place.

This wasn't any bird. I knew that for sure now, and I'd suspected a cat or a squirrel. But now I wasn't so sure. We have wandering cats in the neighborhood, and I'd seen some on our roof from time to time. Squirrels populate the neighborhood and our back yard because of the oak trees. I've heard them scampering over the roof before. But cats and squirrels that could rip up nailed shingles?

That afternoon after work, in spite of the heat, I went back into the attic to try to make sure nothing was there. I saw and heard nothing. So down I came, picking up hammer and bigger nails and some new wood siding freshly sawn, if crudely, into shingle shape. Once again, I lapped the shingles into place over the hole and affixed them firmly with more than necessary nails.

"Are you sure nothing is up there?" asked my wife.

"I don't think so. I went up and looked, and saw and heard not a thing. I just think it comes in and spends the night. We should be ok."

I wa s wrong.

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