It’s been a cold winter, followed by a none-too-balmy spring. This has been difficult on the animals with which we share the swamp our town is built upon. It’s not been a good year to be a deer or a skunk. We haven’t seen our favorite ground hog (a.k.a. the little man who lives under the porch) in a while; we suspect he packed up and retired to Palm Beach.
We’ve had chipmunk and squirrel squatters before, but never mice – not until this year. In December, we discovered that someone had been nibbling at the groceries in our pantry. Whoever coined that phrase about not pooping where you eat was not a mouse.
We finally caught the miscreant with a combination of peanut butter and Gold Fish crackers. He and I went for a little ride. But I’m soft, so I let him go in a field where he could freeze to death, starve, found a flourishing rodent colony, or do any of a myriad things that were no longer my business.
I left the trap in the pantry, but didn’t catch anybody else. The signs of nibbling disappeared.
Last week, the boys and I were playing with the new train the big boy had earned for getting to the top of the color ladder at school (Go, big boy, go!), when the little boy became unusually animated. He pointed under the coffee table and let go a stream of baby talk exclamations. He can speak some English in quiet conversation, but not when he is whipped into a frenzy.
I peered under the table. All I could see were some wooden puzzles and other forgotten toys. Buster was adamant. Getting down on his knees, he pointed under the table, showing his alarmed face before morphing it into his scared face. All the while an unintelligible rant poured from his mouth, like from a taxi driver after a fender bender.
To assuage his misguided alarm, I reached under the table and pulled out a puzzle frame. We all jumped back as a furry lump scurried across the floor and into the entryway. The mouse hid behind one of my shoes. I grabbed the cat out of his nap on the couch and put him down within two feet of the mouse. As determined as Buster had been to find the mouse, the cat was determined to ignore it. I could not get him to turn his head in the right direction. He knew there was a problem that way, but if he didn’t see it, he couldn’t be made responsible for it.
While I went to retrieve a plastic dish cover, the cat tip-toed away to a different floor of the house. I had little faith in my ability to catch the mouse, but maybe this one had the rheumatism, because he was just slow enough for me to corral under the dish cover. This gave us leisure to have a family debate about our next move.