Something Died In The Cabin
A foul smell began to seep through the floor boards of the cabin a few days ago and finding the source hasn’t been fun.
It began as an intermittent waft. Originally I thought it was coming through the windows, carried in by the breeze from some place in the bush or down by the water. As the consistency of the stench became more profound I reluctantly proceeded to scour the entire inside of the cabin, expecting to find a dead mouse. The search came up empty.
A quick inspection under the cottage also indicated nothing out of the ordinary, so I was stumped.
Finally, I accepted the uncomfortable fact that the problem must be located between the floor and the material used to hold up the insulation under the cabin.
For the next three days I did what most cottagers would do – I tried to ignore the ominous odour hoping nature would do its thing and in due course, the smell would go away.
Unfortunately, as the weather warmed the smell intensified and I finally made the painful decision to crawl under the cottage and remove the boards and insulation to see what had died.
The crawl space area beneath a cabin is the place most cottagers dare not talk of. Often used as a storage area for old mattresses and unused construction materials, the cottage crawl space is often damp, dark, and infested with critters.
As cottages go, my crawl space is actually not that bad. The area is completely clear of rubbish and stays relatively dry. Nonetheless, the mosquitoes still congregate there in hordes, only to be matched in number by a community of web weaving spiders.
I have known for years that the area under the floor harbours a labyrinth of passage ways used by mice during the winter months, and opening it up has always been a dreaded task.
Fully garbed with mask and overalls, I began to crawl under the cabin to investigate the foul smell. Arriving at the area where the source of the stench appeared to be, my mind reached the unattractive conclusion that the odour and an oversized hole at the other end of the crawl area might be linked.
Last fall, I discovered a peculiar hole that had been chewed into the floor underneath the southeast side of the cottage. I made a feeble attempt to cover it with a flimsy piece of wood and this spring I found the wood once again removed. As disconcerting as this was, I hadn’t heard any noises that would indicate the presence of an animal larger than a mouse living under the cabin floor, so I simply chose to ignore it.
Was that decision about to come back to bite me?
Fighting off the bugs and a bout of claustrophobia, I rolled over on my back and reluctantly reached up to pull away the board covering the insulation. As the old nail screeched and the corner piece of the board began to slowly separate from the joist, a sudden movement on the other side sent my heart racing. The faint disturbance had been accompanied by a terrifying sound – a sort of annoyed snort – or so I thought.
I stopped removing the board immediately. Listening for a further sign of life, only the buzz of the mosquitoes broke the silence. I moved the board a little more, and again I swear I heard something move. It might have been my imagination but I didn’t bother to wait any longer to confirm my beliefs.
The image of a ferocious forest critter preparing to launch itself onto my face invaded my thoughts, and like any other well-seasoned cabin man, I lost my cool and decided to retreat. Rolling back over onto my belly, I quickly slithered in reverse until I reached the safety of daylight.
Sitting on my knees I embraced a few lucid moments of reflection, and uttered a few choice words in the direction of my foe. Then, abandoning the project altogether, I headed for the beer fridge to reward myself for an investigation well done.
A few more days passed and the horrid smell magically disappeared. Whether something had been stashed there by a forest dweller and summarily removed after my visit, or nature finally took care of the decomposition process, I am not sure, but I consider the issue resolved.
Sometimes, ignoring a problem really is the best solution, right?
Written by: Andrew Walker