Coffee heat rising

Things That Go Bump in the Night…

Well. Not “bump” so much as “rustle rustle rustle” or “munch munch munch.” It’s three in the morning — what most of us would call the middle of the freaking night — the hour that my internal alarm clock has, of late, designated as the dawn of a bright new day. The dogs are conkered out, they being vulnerable to no such metabolic failings. I’m laying there thinking about my best friend in junior high school, Sandy.

Sandy. What an eccentric! We were perfectly matched.

Sandy loved horse racing. Every Saturday morning we would meet at my house to watch the races on TV. Yes. In those days, Saturday morning television (at least in San Francisco) went not to the cartoons but to the races. We loved to watch the races.

Sandy’s hero was not Elvis but Eddie Arcaro, probably the greatest thoroughbred jockey who ever mounted a horse. So I’m laying there thinking — what else? — whatever happened to Eddie Arcaro? Naturally, I have to roll out of the sack (why waste time at three in the morning, eh?) and look him up. Now I’m sitting here, reading up on Eddie, when…comes from the roof (attic???) this weird little sound. At first I think it’s a light rain: could be tapping on the skylights. A sprinkle hitting the glassoid?

But it’s not quite like rain. It doesn’t sound like Ratty dancing across the attic beams. Quite. WTF? Scritch scritch scritch scritch… Something digging in the leaves that have blown onto the roof in the summer’s winds? Something gnawing on the drywall?

The skylights appear to be dry, but it’s hard to tell, because of course it’s mighty dark outside.

I get up and go look out the back door. The motion-sensitive lights have not come on. I can’t see a thing out there.

Open the door and hear rassle rassle rassle! The sound of something running away? I don’t hear anything more. I don’t see anything. And I sure as hell ain’t goin’ out there.

Probably Ratty, I figure. Though it could be a racoon. But I doubt if a raccoon would bother with climbing on the roof. Ratty can scamper up a block wall as easily as she can stroll across a field of grass. Yeah: almost certainly Ratty…

Or was it?

A couple hours pass. The dogs arise and demand a doggy walk. Along about 6:15 we get back, and eventually we wander out to police the backyard. Having performed the morning pool inspection, I amble back and find…


Did you know that a corgi can go on point?

Who’d’ve thunk it? That dog was pointing like a fine little vizsla…into the rocks filling a drainage ditch off the patio.


So I approach cautiously (rattlesnake? wh-a-a?). She doesn’t budge. Literally: she does not wriggle, so fixed is she on whatever the target is.

From beneath the stones, we can hear the same sound: Scritch scritch scritch scritch….

What the heck? Whatever it is, it ain’t a raccoon and it ain’t Ratty!

I call Cassie, who’s smarter than either of us. She’s not the slightest bit interested.

I try lifting some of the stones, never having heard of a rattlesnake that could go scritch scritch scritch scritch.

This isn’t exactly a ditch: it’s actually a French well. So it’s several feet deep, and it holds a LOT of river rock. Under the first layer of rock, I find…nothing. Eventually the scritching stops.

Was the 3 a.m. scritcher inside the house? I doubt it. But…how could it scritch loudly enough to be heard through the roofing, through the attic insulation, through attic flooring, through the ceiling’s drywall? In both cases, the sound was rather soft. The volume seemed about the same. And in the wee hours, it distinctly sounded like it was on the roof or on a skylight.

The mystery has yet to be solved.

Hmh. Wonder if I could train this little dog to hunt Mearn’s quail? It appears they have, on occasion, been used as bird dogs. Innaresting.

Today’s header image: Preakness Stakes. By Maryland GovPics – Flickr: 139th Preakness Stakes, CC BY 2.0,