Tuesday, April 24, 2012

So long, mouse

The mouse and I live quite peaceably.
Her seed turds are a message: 
Hello. I'm here. I'm lovin' your digs.

I’ve never seen my mouse companion but I hear her. Once she was in my bedroom making a racket under my bed. She woke me up. Another time, again under my bed, something she did made a loud clanging sound and even though Jim was with me that night, I was alarmed. What was she up to? Even little beasts make big noise. Their wildness is muscle we humans lack.
The mouse ranges far and wide. One night she’s in my bedroom and the next, she’s downstairs, on the other side of the house, in my desk drawer gnawing through a plastic container of dark chocolate-covered almonds. I have one or two almonds a day on the days I run. It’s my reward. I opened the drawer last night — to have my reward — and found that she had removed a single almond from the container and very neatly chewed half the chocolate off half the almond. Her work had perfect symmetry. The half-eaten chocolate treat lay comfortably in a nest of ripped up tissue. The nut was totally intact because this is a mouse with a sweet tooth. When I picked up the container of chocolate almonds, they spilled out of the perfect access hole she had made. I tossed the whole lot into garbage.
And, yes, I suppose my mouse might be expecting. There’s all that shredded tissue I had to dispose of. I hope, when she discovers her missing nest, that she reconsiders giving birth in my desk drawer.
Right now I’m convinced there’s only the one mouse living here on the two floors with me. I reach this conclusion through a simple process of deduction. One morning I discover three or four of her little turds in my utensil drawer and the next I’ll spot two or three turds by the sugar bowl. I clean thoroughly every night and when I leave for NYC, I leave not one crumb behind. Might she waste away? So far no. She finds ways into the good stuff.
Recently I found that she had chewed into an unopened bag of salted nuts stashed in a cupboard over my toaster oven. I doubt she extracted even one but I can’t say for sure. The opening was small and the nuts, filberts, were large. More importantly, they were not covered with an eighth of an inch of creamy dark chocolate. I saw that she had made her entry from the top of the bag, as if bestowed with the human predilection for order. It was such a tidy opening I wondered if Jim or I had done it. But we had not, of course. We put opened nuts in zip-lock bags and store them in the freezer.
Jim stashed these violated nuts in the refrigerator, hoping, perhaps, to kill any nasty mouse bacteria with near freezing temperatures. Or, the more likely scenario is that he wanted to deprive her of his nuts.
I threw out the nuts yesterday, realizing that I would never risk eating them and I would do whatever was necessary to prevent Jim from catching some kind of vile mouse fever. He once got really bad diarrhea from drinking water from a spring in the mountains. I never want to go through that again.
I should say I will do anything to protect Jim short of killing her with a mousetrap or some of that horrific glue paper. The mouse and I live quite peaceably. Her seed turds are a message. Hello. I’m here. I’m lovin’ your digs.
True, she ate my only treat and I was deprived and quite disappointed. And she mystifies me. How on earth did she get into my desk drawer? And will she survive having eaten through the hard plastic that held my chocolate-covered almonds? What will those particular turds look like? Not much different, I suspect, since I’m pretty sure mice eat and poop almost simultaneously. The turds in my desk drawer were the same. Just lots more.
I clean them up with soap and water. Hello, back at you.
One food my mouse companion loves is olive oil. Who can blame her? I think she licks the bottle because once I found a field of mouse turds around the bottle. That night of binging must have been mouse heaven for her. There might have been as much as a quarter-ounce of turds strewn about.
Once, while hiking, I climbed up to a plateau in a very remote woods. I was told that a small bench had been erected up there in memory of a man’s deceased wife. He told me he had named it Meditation Point and he gave me some sketchy directions. There was no real trail, just the prospect of finding something very hidden that kept me climbing upward. When I got to the top I walked straight into a vast stretch of fresh bear shit. Bear shit everywhere. It was impossible not to step in. And it reeked.
I had come upon a bears’ communal shitting grounds. What kind of bacchanal had gone on here, I wondered? My hair stood on end, just as one might imagine, when the stench of rank bear crawls around in your nose like wasabi. When I spotted the miniature shitting field left by my mouse companion I thought of the bears. They have their wildness in common. Their shitting grounds. They have fur. And given half a chance, they will eat my provisions.
My mouse, I suspect, will leave me soon. Her need for survival kept her indoors. She made it through the winter. And perhaps she’ll survive the recyclable plastic. But now there’s another need calling to her. The world of the mouse, which is out there somewhere.
For a time I hosted a tiny bit of wildness. It was oddly comforting. 


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this foray into mousedom, rae...totally refreshing. while growing up, every fall we would find the telltale signs of mice in our utensil drawer as well. not sure what dad about it. I'd like to think that he allowed the existence as you did.

  2. Lynne Francis-LunnApril 24, 2012 at 7:08 PM

    Rae, Your mouse musings made me smile, I swear our mice follow us from house to house!

  3. Rae, I love this post. It made me laugh. I have been interested in how wild animals have adapted to and invaded our human spaces for quite a while.
    The resourcefulness of life is quite amazing sometimes isn't it?