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My sister from out of town is staying at our lake cottage. She is being respectful of my writing time while she works on our late mother’s house, doing many things that I am tired of doing. She told me she didn’t want to distract me, and that I shouldn’t be worrying about her during this period of intense writing. But she did want to borrow a dog for company. Well, not “a” dog. She wanted snuggly, sweet Pete.

On her first night there she announced that we had mice or something in the ceiling. I did not find this alarming. Mice kind of come along with cottages, and much as I love animals, having seen what they do when we’re away, even I have been forced to take a hard line. So the situation did not seem particularly alarming or challenging. But when my sister began to describe what she was experiencing it began to seem unlikely that mice were the culprits. Scampering, twittering, scrabbling, and, yes, chewing.

I am living my own novel.

We went out to the cottage that night and were sitting on the couch drinking wine, looking at family treasures my sister had unearthed when she stopped me and said: Listen.

Above our heads we heard what I can only describe as the kind of squeals and squeaking you expect to hear in a Disney animation. This was not a squirrel. This was a colony. At least. And it had happened so fast. We hadn’t been away for more than two weeks. It actually was alarming. There were many, many, many animals up there. And they were apparently rather busy. From the sound of things, they were singing to themselves as they made a dress for the ball.

My husband gave me the lecture: You cannot be softhearted about this. You have to call an exterminator. There is no other way. I nodded and pretended to look reasonable, but I confess that I had no intention of exterminating an entire neighborhood of baby squirrels. Sometimes I wonder if he knows me at all.

The next day I called a company that my friend had once used to remove a bat. Or a raccoon. Or both. They specialize in trapping and releasing wild animals that have taken up residence in your house. They assured me that they would not harm the squirrels, and they even have a squirrel expert–although he has injured his back and is not as available as usual. They charge $149 for the house call, and $39 per squirrel.

They will be there at 8:30 this morning. And I suspect that the bill will be rather high.