Cliches pro and con about island life aside, there are unique experiences to be had, at least as far as Matinicus goes, which is pretty far out in every direction in spite of only being about a mile longitudinally and two miles the other way.
One thing I never imagined myself doing is spooning baking soda in through the fan housing on the back of my refrigerator. It is part of the adventure.
Back in April, we came out to clean. I was riding the twin horses of 'oh f***, we have to clean this place up and sell it' and 'no f-ing way is somebody taking my house.' Either way there was cleaning to be done. Big heavy putrid rat-ransacked mounds and dozens of contractor bags for landfill and Goodwill- that kind of cleaning.
When I opened my shop two things occurred. Several rats took off in different directions, hurried, surprised and rudely not observing any sort of courtesy or welcoming me back. I was also forced to confront my hasty and foolish departure late in the previous year. I did not recall leaving such a banquet or so many piles of rubble from several years' of stashing things to figure out another day. Today is the day. As I gaped, I also had to admit that I'd sent Paul in to open things up and he had to walk through this. Sorry, Paul.
A week later, we left. The place had never looked better. The shop was wide open and ready for productivity; buoy painting first, soap making later. As we readied to leave, I put out lots of rat poison. This indirectly led to the eventual spooning of baking soda through the fan blades into the innards of the fridge.
The first three decomposing rats were easy. The fourth got revenge. A couple of weeks later, I returned to a stench, the inescapable olfactory equivalent of crash cymbals next to your head, only more constant. I looked everywhere. I sniffed every cupboard, got in crawl spaces, searched from basement to top floor and found nothing. Pulled the stove. Pulled the fridge. After several days of intense self hypnosis, I convinced myself that the smell was subsiding to a mere nostril hair dissolving, eye watering level.
Eventually, I came to believe that the revengeful critter had somehow crawled into my kitchen ceiling because that was where the smell was most noticeable. After more weeks of patience and delusion, we decided to pull out the fridge again. I got behind and noticed the cheapo particle cardboard stuff had been pulled away from the lower right hand corner. With a flashlight I peered into the dusty cavity and could just make out a tuft of fur. Inside the fan. A more diabolical place to make your last statement I cannot imagine.
I tried reaching in. I'd need to borrow my eight year old's hands to do this, but I don't think he'd go for it. Needlenose pliers did the trick after a lot of profanity and fiddling. First, all I got was some fur. Then I delivered the rat back into daylight.
My biggest mistake was turning the rat over as I got him out. He'd been in a puddle of foul liquid. Why did I look? It was not his good side.
I'd love to have used gasoline in there, but went with baking soda. Even with the rat out and some smell absorbing stuff in there, the project wasn't quite over. I bent one of the fins on the fan, so it started going buckety buckety when I plugged it back in. That problem was easy enough to fix. On the other hand, the extraction took place yesterday, but the smell is not really gone. I hope the rat was alone.
Most of my homecoming proceeded more smoothly. Charging vehicle batteries, blowing up tires, painting buoys, getting rope ready, playing some nice loud tunes with Dennis, mowing the lawn, catching up with friends, journaling the migratory birds.
It smells really nice outside.