The Nutcracker Suite

I should have seen it coming.

I didn’t.  I wake up at 6 am to the sound of steel reinforced work boots stomping across our roof, and workers dropping hammers and other heavy metal objects while cursing in a cracked, muffled sort of way.

Can a roof dent?

Oh for heaven’s sake.  It sounds like they are bowling up there.  Someone knocked over a box of lopsided objects that are  rolling unevenly down the side of the roof: I hear random pinging and thudding as they hit the patio.  Giant marbles?  Ball Bearings? Bullets?

BULLETS?  That thought snaps me wide awake.  We don’t HAVE anyone scheduled to come work on our roof.  There is nothing wrong with it.

I shoot out of bed, stuff myself into sweatpants and a jacket.  Christmas pauses just long enough to stare at the ceiling and growl, then bounds after me.  Shaun isn’t home, and Aunt Lolly took the kids for the night, so I could get an early start to go see my dad.  I’m not big on staying alone unarmed.  So I don’t.  I snag the wool comb I keep stashed by the bed.  (looks like a medieval torture device, and would inflict great pain and suffering…trust me on this one.)

I run down the outside stairs, cell phone pocketed, brandishing the wool comb, and look up.  With the clothes, matted hair, manic warrior demeanor and ancient weaponry, I’m thinking I may look an eensy bit Braveheart-ish, sans the blue face paint.   Bring ON the construction crew.  I hear scratching and stomping coming toward the edge of the roof.  I’m ready. Whoever they are, I am going to OWN them.

I see…nothing?

“HEY”,  I yell, raising my wool comb.

One of my tidy-garden, early-rising neighbors is watering her flower pots.  She waves timidly in my direction.  Good grief.  She thinks I’m talking to her?

I stare back up at the roof.  Do NOT make me get a ladder.


Out of the corner of my eye, I see my neighbor hurriedly drop her water wand and hustle back into her house.  Good.  She knows something is wrong, she’s calling the police.

There is no sound from the roof at all.  Were they trying to break IN?  Roof burglars?  I’m getting mad, and feel empowered by my police dialing neighbor.


There’s a little scritch-scratchy noise, as if someone is crawling to the edge.  Then I see one of them.


A blue-black bird head peers at me over the eve.  He stares me boldly in the eye: utterly fearless.  He cocks his head, then in a swift movement, uses his long beak to tip a lopsided…walnut over the rain gutter and into free fall.  It thunks on the stone patio.  He looks at me experimentally, then looks pointedly at the intact walnut at my feet.

Crows.  In this part of the country, they are the size of Edger-Allen-Poe ravens.  Thus the loud stomping and cawing that I took to be muffled epitaphs.

The rain should have tipped me off.  It’s the time of year the tree across the street is bursting with ripe walnuts. If it’s walnut season, it’s crow season.

I drop the wool comb, nearly slashing my thigh open, as the adrenaline drains out of my body.

I hate to admit it, but I brought this on myself.  My tree-hugging, one-with-nature, be-kind-to-animals, blasted self.  My crow caws and flaps his wings, pointedly staring again at the intact walnut. FINE.  I set the wool comb on a table, and stomp on the walnut.  My crow flaps in pleasure.  Another one of my crows waddles to the edge and peers hopefully down at the carnage. There are dozens of walnuts littering the patio and street outside.  (Our house is on a corner: the street is visible from our yard.)  When I look back up, five crows look down.  I smash the walnuts on the patio. (OW.  Flip flops and stomping do not mix.)  Then, so I can go back to sleep, I go out into the street, and stomp on all the walnuts in the street.  I see a curtain twitch at my neighbors window.  Somehow, I think our fine upstanding reputation in the neighborhood has just plummeted into negative numbers.

Crazed psycho woman runs screaming out of house waving an evil, 8″ long multi-bladed stabbing thingy, challenges the roof, and then performs bizarre hopscotch ritual in the middle of the street while cursing herself out like a sailor.

I have no doubt the police are being called.  At the very least, the home owners association.

I’m a dang bleeding heart liberal, who would save the spotted owl (if it was close and I wasn’t busy), vote yes to protecting the midget swamp frog, and chain myself to a tree as long (as a hefty lunch was involved). Okay, in reality I don’t do any of that.  Therefore I have liberal guilt.  I’m too busy to chain myself to anything but my wife and kids.

I am not too busy to smash a walnut.   It’s a small thing that doesn’t take much time, (cue Animal Planet music) and  a bird eats.  What liberal guilt?  Win-win.

This is what happens when you help one lonely little crow, who can’t get the walnut shell to break, no matter how high he drops it from the tree.

A) You train every crow for miles that they get to eat at sunrise if they drop the walnuts on your house.  No more waiting until noon for breakfast!

B) You end up on probation with the Home Owners Association.


14 thoughts on “The Nutcracker Suite

    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      Come on in, we’ve got coffee and donuts waiting!

      Oh. Um. I mean coffee and *apples*, nice healthy apples! Because we’re all about being fit for riding, here at TLH, yessiree bob.

      (Marissa, hide the pink box, quick!)

      Thanks for visiting, and come again soon. 🙂

      (Daisy smuggle this nice person a donut on the way out, we want them to come back!)

  1. Michelle

    Ha ha ha!!! I can totally picture that neighbor peering out the window at you. Well, at least you put the torture device down before you went street dancing! It could always be worse, you know?

    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      You make a very compelling point. I set down the torture device.

      I could have maimed myself in the process. Wow. A shred of common sense. I’ll have to tell Daisy, she’ll be so proud.

  2. Marissa

    Hilarious! I love the Braveheart-esque sweatpants-clad description of yourself. And your neighbors running inside in fear that you’ve lost your mind and are threatening to kill a bunch of birds for landing on your roof. Priceless.

    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      I confess I went to my neighbor with a plate of cookies in supplication, and explained I thought men were on the roof, not birds. She nodded unenthusiastically (what idiot confuses human feet with bird feet?), took the plate with some suspicion, but has at least waved back since. 😉

    1. theliteraryhorse Post author

      Would you send a carrier pigeon to them with that note, “You are the luckiest crows in the world, and BTW, if you could wait until 9 am, you’d be even luckier?”

      Someday will think things through before I act. Of course, then we will have nothing to laugh at. Hmmm.


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