24.7.10

Nocturnal break-in at the Qilin camp!

This morning, at about 2 am, I was tossing and turning in bed, when suddenly a noise manifested itself. At first it seemed to be Dragon gnashing her teeth (dragons can't help it), but after a while, it sounded like Dragon moving the furniture around. I went to investigate. It did not take long to realize that whatever was going down, it was not happening in Dragon's bedroom but in the living room below. Someone had broken into the house!!


Now obviously, waking up in the middle of the night and realizing that your house definitely contains at least one intruder is not a scenario anyone looks forward to. But if and when it does happen, you have no option but to deal. My first move was to noisily wake Dragon and Force of Chaos, partly to give the intruder the opportunity to leave (heh!), and partly to get a group defense into position if necessary. Before long, Force of Chaos and I were standing at the top of the stairs, each politely waiting for the other to go first. Dragon later explained that we were welcome to borrow any of her large collection of weapons, but that she, personally, would be under the blankets in situations like these. The noise, meanwhile, had ceased.

When Force of Chaos and I finally plucked up our courage to go downstairs we discovered, in the middle of the carpet, a chewed-up walnut. By the walnut basket behind the armchairs lay another two or three walnuts that someone had obviously being trying to filch. At first, this suggested a mouse, or perhaps even a larger rodent. But there were also the damp patches on the rug, the saliva dripping from the furniture (yuk), the stench of large mammal in the passage,... and finally the fact that the front door was wide open, and the motion sensitive lights outside were on. These subtle clues indicated something larger than a mouse. (NB: there were no visible tracks).

If the business about the door seems surprising, I should hasten to explain that in these wild and out of the way places we are pretty lazy about locking the door at night, and I suppose that on this occasion, with it being summer and all, we had also neglected to completely push it closed. But not any more, dear potential burglars. From now on, that door is getting locked!

Now, this blog is supposed to be about how to interpret the signs, achieve understanding, and track qilins, so here is a perfect opportunity to put that to the test. We are looking for a large mammal, who eats walnuts, dribbles a lot and isn't backward about breaking and entering. We do have a suspect, and, alas, it is not a qilin:



Brash is an adult male roe deer whose territory overlaps ours. In winter, he scarfs down our ivy hedge on one side of the French window while we knock back Force of Chaos's gourmet preparations on the other, less than 2 meters away. Both sides eye each other with suspicion, but neither are prepared to abandon their meal to do anything about the other. Brash is not scared of us. He has even been known to climb on the roof, although perhaps he did not know it was the roof with all that snow around. He's been known to camp out under the table on the deck when it's really cold. So, we think hedunnit! And if it wasn't him, it was one of his pals! After all, there's not that many large mammals around here: the wild boar are shy and the neighbor's dog doesn't eat walnuts. Still, we'll be keeping our eyes open for more evidence, just in case this goes to court.

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