Posted in Desert Life

The mystery of the fairy lights

In October I bought 65 feet of solar-powered fairy lights to add to the string I already had in my front courtyard because it’s dark out there, and also, who doesn’t love fairy lights?  I waited until after Halloween to put them up because, frankly, I hadn’t gotten around to it yet, and Frankensteinly, I didn’t want them to encourage trick-or-treaters. (We have dogs who don’t enjoy the ringing doorbell, let alone it ringing 40x in a night; and we have what must be the lamest trick-or-treaters in town–they don’t even say “TRICK OR TREAT!”  They just stand at the door and stare at you mutely.  My generation is clearly failing at the home training.  I mean, you go around and collect free candy from near strangers.  This is an excellent holiday; do your part!  All I need is for you to be adorable and say “TRICK OR TREAT!” in your tiny, warbly little-kid voice. I don’t ask much.  But I digress.)

So last week, I finally got around to hanging my fairy lights when I put up the Christmas lights, and so long and glorious was the string that I was able to move the older set of lights out of the courtyard and onto the palm trees in the front yard.  Yay for solar power!

I put everything out, and waited for them to charge, and was rewarded that evening with lighted front yard that looked festive.  Success!

We’ve been in the middle of a cold snap, with freezing or below temperatures at night all week, so my plants have all been covered, and with them, the fairy lights.  But last night, I noticed that the lights were out about 2 feet beyond the solar charger.  A quick check indicated that there was a break in the line, and I thought, “Did I yank it unawares while I was covering the plants?  Did they freeze and break?  What’s the deal?”  The old set I had had never had any problems.  But this set had been blinking oddly at one point, and I’d chalked that up to the dark and cloudy days we’ve been having not charging them enough.  Maybe it was the break?

A little further investigation found 2 breaks, in fact, and the situation was curiouser and curiouser.  But it was dark out, and there was nothing I could do about it until today, when I went out with a roll of electrical tape and my wire strippers to splice the pieces back together in daylight.

But the more I unraveled things to find the loose ends, I found 3 more loose sections of wire, attached to nothing.  And all I can think is that something is eating them.  That something is probably a rodent, and in all likelihood, a pack rat, because we know there are some in the yard, and we know they like to eat wires.  We once had one in the garage that ate through lighting wiring in Scott’s car.  So I sat there and spliced everything together, and figured I’d solved the problem, because everything I could see seemed whole.  A final check indicated I’d missed two separate pieces, one of which was from the old set, wrapped around the baker’s rack I put plants on, but I set them aside, because I wasn’t going undo anything I’d just did.  I held on to the pieces figuring if they ever broke again, I’d splice those extras in at that time.  I wasn’t sure about the rest of the lights, but my plants were still covered and I didn’t want to undo all that work, so I decided I’d wait until dark and make sure they’d come on.

After sunset I went out there to check them, and saw that while everything I’d put back together today (4 separate splices, 2 wires apiece) was working just fine, none of the lights under the blankets were on.  How strange.  So I pull off all the blankets, and I find there’s another break.  And another.  And by the time I’m done looking through every plant, I end up with this:


Aaaaand I’m pissed.  Because that pack rat bastard is making his way through the wire, no doubt under the cover I provided!  Pack rats are very susceptible to exposure, so he’s been hanging out in my tent fort, safe from the cold, wrecking my lights one snack at a time.  And this is why I hate them.  Because you cannot live in harmony with a pack rat.  If they just stayed out in the yard and ate their seeds and lived among the cactus, I’d ignore them.  But they won’t do that.  They’re always trying to get in somewhere, and they are 12 ounces of pure destruction and filth.  If you’ve never had the pleasure of cleaning out a pack rat nest, count yourself very, very lucky. 

And while I was happy enough to splice together what I thought were just a few random breaks, I look at this pile on my dining room table, and think putting it all back together isn’t worth it, especially since I have no reason to believe he won’t just keep at it, and I’ll be right back here a week from now.  Ditto on buying a whole new set to replace this one.

Time to get out the live trap.



I've been doing some form of creative writing since 9th grade, and have been a blogger since 2003. Like most bloggers, I've quit blogging multiple times. But the words always come back, asking to be written down, and they pester me if I don't. So here we are. Thanks for reading.

One thought on “The mystery of the fairy lights

  1. What a bastard!! Damned pack racks!!

    Until your past travails with them on the garage, I had no idea pack rats were even real creatures. The luxuries of living in the cool, rainy Pacific Northwest!

    Good luck catching the miscreant!!

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