Crafty Critters

By: Cheryl Maguire


I love the Disney movie Enchanted. One of my favorite scenes is when Princess Giselle is peacefully sleeping on the couch. She awakens in a graceful manner, donning a white puffy ball gown, reminiscent of an eighties wedding dress. The camera pans to show the viewer a disorganized NYC apartment; dirty clothes are strewn across the floor, papers are scattered on the table and food-encrusted dishes are dispersed throughout the kitchen. I cringe with the realization that there is an uncanny resemblance to my humble home, most mornings.


She declares, “This just won’t do!”

I shout at the screen, “I know! It’s like living in a frat house!”

Here’s where it gets interesting. She opens the window, sings a magical chant and suddenly pigeons, mice, rats, flies and cockroaches gather in the apartment. Instead of calling an exterminator, Princess Giselle dances while belting out a song about the joys of housework as the critters clean the place spotless. They even do the laundry and bring her a bouquet of flowers.

All I could think is, “How can I inspire pests to become my personal cleaning crew?”

I probably had visions of this movie, or maybe Snow White, when we went searching for a home to buy. The realtor showed us a house surrounded by woods. As she was pointing out the large backyard, she mentioned how the other day she saw wild turkeys roaming about. My husband and I looked at each other in disbelief and wonder, thinking this must be a rustic, wonderful and possibly magical place to live because we have never witnessed real live wild turkeys roaming anywhere.

In unison, we inquired, “How soon can we buy it?”

After signing almost a thousand documents, the house was ours! Sure enough, we saw those turkeys. In fact, they seemed to like the house as much as we did; but instead of helping clean it, they enjoyed depositing their droppings on the walkway for us to step in while leaving the house.

We’ve encountered many other woodland creatures since taking up residence in our suburban abode. One day, while I gazed out the window dreaming of Princess Giselle’s cleaning crew, I saw a large, furry, cuddly-looking critter wobbling by the playset.

I said to my daughter, “Look, there is some kind of interesting animal outside.”

Grabbing the camera, we darted onto the deck to get a closer view. The brown, fuzzy animal was crawling around the grass, unaware of our presence. As we were “oohing and ahhing” at our newfound friend, we must have oohed a little too loud since the animal started to run. But instead of returning to the woods as I would expect, I watched in horror as the varmint sprinted straight for our house.

“Run!” I shouted to my daughter. I had no idea what this creature was, and suddenly, it felt more like a scene from a Stephen King novel rather than a Disney movie.

A few days later, I got up the nerve to inspect around the deck to see what happened to our newest inhabitant. I discovered at least three deeply dug holes. I’m guessing it was either a groundhog or gopher. I considered finding a hose to fill the holes with water, but then recalled it didn’t work out too well for Bill Murray in Caddyshack.

Mr. Gopher/Groundhog must have sent out a rodent message, equivalent to a teen Tweeting, “party at my house” because soon after he took up residence at my residence, a family or more likely a colony of mice, decided our mini-van would be a great new dwelling.

I can only imagine the conversation between the mice upon discovering our mini-van.

“Oh my god! We hit the motherlode. There is enough food here to feed us for the next 5 years. I mean, everywhere you look there are juice boxes, Goldfish, Cheerios and Cheez-Its!”

After high-fiving one another, the mice would break down with tears of joy knowing they would not have to search for food anymore.

The only cleaning I witnessed from the rodents was the eating of tissues, air conditioning wires and leftover food remnants, which hardly compared to Giselle’s band of domestic workers. It was becoming abundantly clear these animals shared little resemblance to the ones in the movie Enchanted.

At this point, I would merely settle for cleaning assistance from the small humans who also reside in this household. I wonder, if I wore a ball gown and tiara and pranced around the living room would it inspire them to pick up a broom or even a mop?

If nothing else, it would hopefully motivate all these cantankerous critters to go find Princess Giselle.

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