We live in the woods. Like everyone else in the woods, we get mice. Last night was one for the books, though. I was standing in the kitchen and saw something move, sure enough it was a mouse. A small mouse. Very small.
It walked through the kitchen like it didn’t have a care. I scolded it. Nothing. I went after it and could just about scoop it up in my hand – and then thought better of it. Lord alone knows what ugly diseases I could get if it decided to bite me.
I was angry at first. It takes a plucky mouse to just saunter through your kitchen as if it belongs there. No worries on the food – everything is in containers or packed away in the refrigerator. Dishes are done every night and nothing at all is left out to attract a mouse. Even fruit and herbs are put away. Dog food is in a sealed container, and believe me Mr. Dog doesn’t leave even a single piece of kibble behind at feeding time.
So the mouse went through, in spite of the kitchen being the place where we were and where the most noise and commotion was. It ducked into the toe-space, then into the next room, and back into the kitchen again. It didn’t take me long to realize that it wasn’t plucky, so much as it was naive. It didn’t know it was supposed to be afraid of us.
More than anything, it seemed a bit lost. Bewildered. Curious. When my husband said “I’ll get it….” I cried out when he went to hit it with something. I thought he was going to scoop it up and toss it outside. Instead he approached the problem as you might approach a large house fly. It wasn’t much bigger than that, after all. Maybe the size of a large grape.
Well, the little guy was too fast for us in any case, though not the panicked flight of a normal mouse. It made appearances several more times during the evening – walking down the open hallway, showing up under the coffee table, crossing to be under the ottoman. Each time, it was more like a walk than a run. Each time it paused to look right at us with wonder and curiosity. Hard to drop a shoe on that.
We weren’t able to catch it and toss it back in the woods. We agreed that would have been our first choice, even though it would probably get back into the house before we could. We didn’t choose to kill it violently by hand. It took a while to figure out what to do. It was almost like we’d developed a relationship. That cute, fuzzy look of innocence is definitely a survival trait.
Ultimately, we reaffirmed our stance that mice do not belong in the house, no matter how cute. We set traps and tried to enjoy our brief and unusual encounter while we did so. Talk about feeling conflicted!
The traps were empty this morning, so no immediate end to our little invader. That eases the guilt a little bit. I’ll always be grateful for its crazy visit last night, and the laughs and silliness we enjoyed with it. In the midst of a global pandemic, intense racial unrest, and a political scene here in the U.S. that has really gone off the rails, it was nice to forget all of that for a bit in the stare of those big black eyes looking up from the floor.
(c) 2020, J. Cools