Critters are a fact of life on Maui. Most are benign. There are dogs, cats, horses, cows, goats, deer, pigs, rabbits, mice and rats along with chickens, ducks, geese, wild fowl and creepy crawlers.
There are few islanders who can repress a chuckle about tourists getting excited about flipping on a light and seeing a cockroach. On the Mainland, roaches - not the smoking kind - are associated with filth, which is why fancy resorts paint their luxurious plantings with pesticides.
No one likes cockroaches but it's nearly impossible to get away from them. Once in Honolulu, home was a never-lived-in apartment on the 14th floor. Within days, there they were. That freaked out the wife who was expecting a visit from the Mainland mother-in-law. Ever live in a place that reeks of bug spray?
Sometimes, even island-born folks - usually female - refuse to accept the presence of cockroaches. One Makawao-born lady is death on roaches. She once had a teacher who demonstrated just how dirty roaches are. He had a roach walk over a series of petri dishes. The next day, each dish had grown a bumper crop of nasty looking stuff.
The woman in question is a kindhearted sort who will move spiders, geckos and trapped mice outside rather than kill them. She's also fond of birds. Not so, roaches. The minute she spots one, she'll grab a slipper and mash 'em. Her favorite way of dealing with centipedes is with a hammer.
A clutch of Francolins parading across the yard or the squawk of a pheasant entrances the lady and whenever nenes are spotted, she has to stop and watch them. She's less fond of doves, sparrows and mynahs. The doves can be annoying when they swoop down in numbers and splatter cars with paint-eating excrement. Sparrows can be ignored. Mynahs are another story. These imports from Asia are noisy, like to tap dance on metal roofs and tend to be clever, but not always. Take the other day when a juvenile mynah made a house call.
There was a football game on the boob tube. It was warm enough in Kula there was no need to have a fire. Along about the second quarter, there was a strange noise. It could have come from the outside. The house cat sprang into action. Cyrano parked himself in front of the fireplace.
A scrabbling, scratchy noise came from behind the fireplace screen. The sound stopped. The cat prowled around the stand-alone fireplace. More scrabbling. It could have been a rodent, but wasn't. Must be a bird in the chimney.
Concentrate on the TV. Ignore the scrabbling. Not much to do until the stupid bird ends up on the downside of the damper. The bird would seemingly rest before attempting another flight up the pipe. The scratching sound indicated the bird was too big to effectively spread its wings.
Oh, well . . .
Near the end of the football game, the bird was spotted on the other side of the fireplace screen. Cyrano was on full alert. OK, try to grab it. Nothing doing. The intruder went back up the pipe. More scrabbling and scratching. Then silence.
The landlord showed up with a plumber to deal with one of those problems common to old houses. "How's it going?"
"Pretty well except for the bird in the fireplace."
"What are you going to do?"
"Nothing much. I guess I'll just wait until the bird finds its way out or maybe dies. Maybe climb up on the roof and take the rain cap off. Just wait, I guess."
The plumber had a more direct approach. "Bet if you started a fire, that would solve the problem." That seemed a little too radical.
Back in the house, no sound from the chimney. Maybe it got out. Nope. In a few minutes, scrabbling. It must be sitting on the damper. Open the screen, stick an arm up the chimney. Feel around. There's a small explosion. The bird flies out and heads for the open front door. Blam. It hits the screen and ends up on the floor. Cyrano grabs it. It squeaks and breaks free.
Avian chaos ensues. Bird flies to windows, sits on pictures and walks along the tops of window shades. Cyrano dashes along on the floor. Bird comes to rest on a lampshade. Quick, open the screen door. The bird flies out with the cat in hot pursuit.
End of a country critter adventure. Hmmm. Might be a good idea to check the chimney's rain-cap screen. Plenty of time for that later. There's another football game getting underway.
* Ron Youngblood is a retired editor and staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is email@example.com.