A Mouse in the House
And then there are the rodents...
There are two rodents in my house. There are probably more—I try not to think about that—but I know about these two for sure. I’ve seen them. They’re dead.
They’ve been dead for a while now, I think, but I only just discovered them about a week ago. One on one day and the other on another. One deep inside a cupboard I rarely look into, and the other deep inside a drawer I’ve taken to ignoring because every time I open it I see mouse droppings.
It’s icky and shuddery and totally unsanitary, this having to share my cottage in the woods with the original inhabitants who have no qualms about sharing living quarters with humans who don’t mean to but manage to feed and house them nicely.
Why wouldn’t they want to live here? The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder and I know from past years that mice and voles and probably other tiny woodland creatures look for cozy places to live out the winter. I’ve had voles run across my slippered feet as I sat on the couch in the living room. They think they’re guests and not nuisances, and I admit they’re kind of cute, but I really sincerely do not want them as pets.
When Ed was alive he would trap mice and voles and throw their carcasses out into the woods. I cringed at that, too, but the alternative was to share our living space with them as their families grew and grew and grew…
As woodland creatures go, we’re bigger and stronger, but not always wily. This is no longer our natural habitat. We don’t think like those furry little survivalists who, through experience, have figured out how to stay alive. And who procreate. They can wiggle their bodies into such tiny spaces it’s as if they’re made of Play Doh and not skin and organs and bones. They can work cheese and peanut butter off of a trap without springing it. They can live inside walls and under things and the only sign we see of them is when they chew or poop.
As much as I pretend it isn’t so, I’m having a hell of a time trying to adjust to living here alone. I’m relatively happy on those days when all goes right, when the sun shines, when I’m acutely aware of the beauty of my surroundings, and when the birds and animals of the forest keep me entertained outside. But things happen that make me feel vulnerable and helpless. This is new for me.
Even in those last months when Ed had lost the ability to do much of anything physical, his presence alone made me feel safe. He would know what to do. He wouldn’t have shut the doors and drawers to dead mice. They would be gone by now if he were here.
Late last week I was coming in with groceries and I actually hesitated outside, knowing there were creatures inside, dead and alive. My home has been invaded, and it’s not the first time, but it’s all on me now. It’s my problem.
So here’s what I may be about to do. I may be about to feed them poison. My friendly hardware guy spent many minutes explaining the different products, all killing machines with different methods but the same outcome, and in the end I chose yummy blocks of poison that the rodents will munch on and take back to the nest and whole families will die without my ever having to see them again.
It isn’t humane for anyone but me. That’s why I haven’t done it yet. I’m having visions of my grandmother coaxing a spider onto a newspaper, sweetly assuring it it’ll be much happier outside as she walks softly down the steps, placing it in a safe place on the ground. I don’t remember ever seeing mice in her immaculate house. How did she deal with them? She’s no longer here to ask, but I’m trying to convince myself she’d have no tolerance for their droppings and their mess. They would have to die.
So I’m the timid mouse in my house as my rodent residents go on about their business. They have no idea how unwelcome they are or how hard this is for me. They have no idea I’m plotting their murders.
I asked the friendly hardware guy about the less lethal products, like scent bags and powders, and even plug-ins wafting minty breath that rodents apparently don’t like. As I was asking the question he was shaking his head. A waste of time and money, he said. But now I’m hearing about Pine Sol and vinegar and mint and cinnamon, and I’m wondering if they’ll work. I may give them a try before I go the execution route.
But there are still those dead mice. And I need to clean up their messes way back in those corners…
I may have to move. I’ll get back to you.
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