Of mice and traps

Everything looks different in the dark. We take the path through the woods at least twice every day, but just now, as I tried to make my way in the dark, I wandered off the trail several times. Koa could have guided me, but she went no further than the top of the hill—leaving me on my own trying not to imagine what was rustling in the leaves as I went by. My goal was to get far enough away from the house to release the mouse that we’d caught in a trap moments before. When I got to my destination I tried to dump him onto the ground, but the poor little thing clung to the trap. It took some good shakes to get him out.

No sooner had I returned to the house (receiving a joyful greeting from Koa), when the second trap started rattling. So I donned boots and coat again, and went back through the woods to reunite the companions. I imagined one saying to the other “Oh no, not you too!”

Inevitably, as the weather turns colder the mice come in to seek shelter and food. Field mice are cute—they are tiny and have huge brown eyes—but they are not welcome in the house. Rebecca is very good at catching them (in fact she caught a mole the other night), but we wanted to step up the campaign to keep them out, so we set two catch-and-release traps. Which have proven quite effective so far.

One of the many wonderful memories I have of my father is catching (and releasing) mice in our summer house in Madison, CT. The mice would move in during the winter, once we had gone. One spring our refrigerator started leaking. While my parents were addressing that problem, we noticed a terrible smell. A neighbor was a plumber, and we asked him what was going on. He pulled out a tray (none of us knew existed) under the frig, and it was full of water and now mushy dog food. The mice had found a small bag that we had left behind in a canister and had stored each piece in a safe place—safe until we came back and turned the electricity on.

When we actually saw a mouse in the house, my parents bought snap traps, but I was so upset by them my father helped me catch them instead. We took a Chock Full O’Nuts coffee can, and he and I raced after the mouse, somehow cornering it and plopping the can on top. We then took the mouse into the field in front of our house, and let it go. This procedure was repeated several times, and I am sure my father felt we were just catching the same mice over and over. (He said the word had gone out in the mouse kingdom that our accommodations couldn’t be beat.) And so it might be in our house now, but hopefully we can stay ahead of the immigration.

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