A Mousey Tale

Mice are little critters. Big dark eyes, but small furry animals that can squeeze through the tiniest of holes. Holes you can’t find. Ever. So we sent out live traps, mini mice-condos, if you will. One-way doors keep the scroungers contained until we release them into the woods. I suspect we are only delaying their demise as they either freeze to death or become fox or owl food, probably both. But that’s better than dealing with carcasses in my house. And the kids like peering at the live mice (“Aww so cute! Can we get pet mice again?”).

We’ve tried to find and plug holes, but the cold winter and a warm house are mighty motivators for creatures in search of shelter. They’ll find any way in that they can.

One sunny midday my dog Foster nosed the bells hanging hear the deck door to let us know she wanted to go out. As I neared the door, I caught movement outside. A wee brown mouse scurried past the door. While the bird feeders that hang just outside the kitchen windows delight us with exceptional bird viewing (recently spotted, never before seen: female common redpoll!), the seeds draw a variety of mammals as well.

Mousey caught my movement, reversed direction and headed away from the door. I pulled open the door, furry Foster trotted out and before I could shut the door, furry Mousey had reversed direction again, scooted under my dog and into my house. Dumbstruck, I shrieked, “No, no, no! What? Why?” Like some heat-seeking laser, Mousey dashed into the warmth of my kitchen with no concern for the big dog or the human standing there. I had just opened the door and let a mouse ran right in. No need for holes when you’re welcomed in through the back door.

Foster startled but completely missed the mouse. So much for those terrier instincts. I continued to screech, not scared, but totally freakin’ baffled that this mouse ambled across my threshold. The kids ran over to see what the excitement was about and laughed trying to find where Mousey had gone to.

I saw Mousey run along the wall under the kitchen table. How does one catch a mouse on the move? A box? A fly swatter? I opted to leave the door open, dash to the other side of the table and frighten Mousey into going back out the door. Mousey did indeed turn around.

“Alex, where’d she go?” I asked from my side of the table.

“I don’t know. Last time I saw her she was running towards you,” he said.

“But then the mouse turned around back towards you! Did she run out the door?”

“I don’t know. Cute mousey. Mom let a mouse in!” he laughed. I made a face at him and he laughed harder. Where did that mouse go? I checked outside, I looked under the rolling cart, I pushed aside the floor-length curtains. No mouse. Drat.

“Fine,” I closed the deck door. “She probably ran back outside with all the scrambling and screeching in here. Wow. Can you believe that mouse just ran inside?” Both kids laughed. I was gonna be teased about this for a long time.

Still aghast, I picked up my phone to tell my sister of this ridiculous occurrence. She would love it. As the phone rang, I pondered where Mousey could have disappeared to. She had been running toward the open door, but no one had actually seen her go outside. Could she still be in the house? Maybe I missed her when I brushed aside the curtain. I held my ringing phone in one hand and swished the curtain with the other. No mouse on the floor. But mice climb, don’t they? I sifted through the folds of the curtain.

“Yikes! Mouse in curtain. She’s in the curtain!” Me screeching again. Kids laughing again. I dropped my phone on the table, possibly hitting the hang up button. I’m not sure because I was all out of wits by then. If I’d had any wits left at all, I would have bundled up the curtain, trapping Mousey within and then carried it outside. I thought of that hours later.

No, in that moment, I searched for a box. I had some idea that I would slam the box down over the mouse, though box-on-swishy-curtain makes no sense. The kids were laughing again because really what else could one do? I don’t recall what Foster was doing at this point, but she wasn’t catching the mouse. With a box in hand, I returned to the curtain. Mousey clung. I stared. Mousey climbed. I yelled, “Oh, come on!”

Up the curtain went Mousey, then out onto the smooth curtain rod, then plummeting down to the floor went Mousey. I couldn’t get behind the table to slam my box down over Mousey, so I just watched as she stood, shook herself off and darted towards Alex who had thoughtfully positioned himself at the end of the table. Finally, Mousey would see that the best route was back out the door.

Mousey paused atop Alex’s foot. Alex giggled. Mousey did not turn around. Mousey was a heat-seeking laser, remember. Heat seekers do not head back out into the cold, cold outdoors. Mousey ran under the table, down the steps into the little alcove leading to the garage. The little alcove with the recycling and shoes and boots and boxes and a bazillion hiding places. At least, I think that’s where she went. She may have hurled herself into the sunken room on the other side of the steps where our desks and art table are located. I don’t know and I wasn’t going to find out.

“Okay, Mousey,” I said, “You win. Enjoy the warmth. Have a lovely afternoon and evening. You certainly earned it.”

That afternoon, we shared our house with Mousey. That night, we set out a mini mouse-condo with a cheesey cracker and peanut butter.