“Wait Till ‘Marten’ Comes!”

Friday night, I thought for a moment that I was living a bad old ‘ghost’ story from childhood . . . .

An old American folk tale uses repetition (not to say tedium, but there it is . . .) to build suspense. A person seeking shelter in an abandoned building watches a parade of animals (cats in some versions) enter and stare at the interloper. Each successive animal is larger than the others, and asks if it’s time to bite or otherwise harm the person. Each time, the answer is “No, waaaaaait till Martin comes.” I don’t think I’m spoiling the surprise by relating that the person eventually gets up and leaves, saying something like, “When Martin comes, you tell him I’ve gone away again.”

After our initial snows, we had days when little more accumulated. During that time, our compound and trails became crisscrossed by animal tracks—mostly deer and a far-ranging marten (or seven?).

marten trackways

Around, around the cherry bush, the monkey is the weasel! Marten tracks under 6+ inches of new snow (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

The marten’s trackways are distinctively beautiful, showing a graceful ground-eating lope, two snowshoe-like paw prints, placed one slightly in front of the other. Lovely to see, even when it became clear that this marten seemed to be spending a lot of time in our dooryard!

We have had marten invasions before (see Pandemonium on the Porch and Perimeter Breach). It’s not unlikely that this marten is the same one that troubled us three years ago.

We suspected that a marten had been entering our arctic entryway recently through a tear in the screen next to the door handle. Therefore, I wasn’t overly surprised by what happened Friday night.

We returned home late after the opening night of The Lion in Winter (which went well; even better Saturday  night). I reached the front door at about 11:30 p.m. I noticed even more marten tracks in the dooryard than usual, and when I reached for the door handle, I heard scuttling in the porch enclosure. A marten popped its head out of the hole in the screen, right by my hand! I suppose I missed a rather painful bite by inches.

It retreated into the porch, with me right behind it. I grabbed the broom and started whacking everything around me with the handle, yelling bloody threats in a deep voice. The marten flushed, and I chased it across the dooryard and into the brake beyond the smoke house.

The next day, Michelle patched the hole temporarily with plywood.

repaired screen door

Michelle’s repair. Will it keep a marten out? I doubt it (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Based on other marten stories in our region, I have to assume this animal hasn’t returned to our porch. I see no way even the sturdiest parts of our screen would prevent it from entry. I don’t know why it goes in there—we have nothing of interest to offer, unless it’s eating stray rodents who wander in, in which case it’s welcome to them, I guess. We will see what develops in the coming days. Next spring, we’ll rebuild the door.

For now, I’m biding my time, waiting till marten comes.

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