There was a mouse in my stove, and this time I vowed “no mercy!”
Yeah, right. Like we haven’t heard that before. Especially when a particularly wily raccoon kept raiding my bird feeder and I fruitlessly tried trapping, poisoning, and generally wishing him to death. Until the night he (or she) actually ended up in the bigger live trap I’d baited with peanut butter and an apple and set on the back porch…and I ended up setting him free to waddle away down the porch stairs. I may never hear the end of that one.
But at least the raccoon hadn’t moved inside!
Mice are a different story. I live in the country, surrounded by fields and trees and acres teeming with lovely little outdoor mice with fawn-colored coats and tiny white feet and soft, pristine little white bellies. And every year when the weather turns cold they try to find shelter inside from the cold. They usually find it for a while, and then Smokey, the twenty pound indoor cat that looks like a small bear, finds them. If they’re really lucky, I’ll find Smokey toying with his prey before he dispatches it. I’ve been known when this happens to slip on a pair of gloves, grab the terrified mouse from the jaws of death, and toss it out into the yard. It probably slips right around the corner and finds its way back inside…
But still…I finally drew the line last night when my son and I watched television. “What’s that rattling sound in the kitchen,” he asked. I gave it a listen. It sounded like a spoon rattling in a bowl. Maybe Smokey’d decided to take a stroll across the kitchen counters when I wasn’t looking and was sniffing around at some leftover milk or ice cream.
Well, in fact, no. Smokey was snoozing soundly on the plush recliner next to the sofa, as sedentary as a fur-covered doorstop. The rattling in the kitchen continued. I sneaked into the kitchen five or six times, as quiet as…no, ha ha ha, even quieter than!!…a mouse before I finally caught a glimpse of a sleek dark tail disappearing below one of my electric burners. I suppose this is the natural result of turning my stove into a flower stand now that I’ve got an empty nest. Nature abhors a vacuum.
Well that just corked it. This uninvited mouse was running rampant in my kitchen, turning my electric stove into a condo, and the magnificent mouser was sleeping through the adventure? I vowed that if daylight broke and Smokey hadn’t caught that mouse yet, I’d be heading for the store to buy a mousetrap. And this time I meant business!
And so by evening I’d given up any thought of rescue by the sleeping cat, and drove to Walmart in search of a lethal mousetrap that could fit into the top of the stove. I swallowed hard as I read set after set of instructions. There were poison mouse bait pellets. Classic mousetraps that would snap shut on the little nomads, breaking their wee little necks. Pads of sticky stuff that would adhesive them to captivity and death. Nothing grabbed me until I turned over yet another package, and saw in the instructions the option of setting a captured mouse free.
I heaved a sigh of resignation. Stood there for another two minutes weighing all the lethal options…and knew in my heart I just couldn’t go there. So, armed with my “live trap” I drove home in the dark, baited it with a little peanut butter, set the trap along the mouse highway, and had my prey rattling around, captured, roughly three minutes later. Maybe less. The cat never batted a whisker. This would be the mighty hunter who can hear the faint rustle of the wrapping on the deli sliced turkey when I’m making a sandwich from six rooms away, but apparently can’t hear a mouse loudly dancing a jig on a rattling teaspoon at a distance of twenty feet.
I pulled on my winter jacket and snugged up a pair of leather gloves over the cuffs. No telling which way this rescue could play out, and I had no wish for Speedy Gonzalez to run up my sleeve. The evening air was quite frigid, and I looked around for a good spot to release the little guy. By the flowers? Too close to the house. Out by the basketball hoop? Oh, it looked so cold! I opened the garage door, flipped on the lights, and shook some bird seed on to the floor. Then, gingerly, I opened the lid, holding the box close to the spilled sunflower seeds. The mouse inside darted out like quicksilver and raced past my little evening snack to disappear into a pile of scrap lumber and other clutter.
I’ve got the trap back in the stove again, just in case the kitchen mouse finds his way back inside across the snow drifts. Or a cousin comes looking for him, following in his footsteps. The cat’s still asleep, of course, sides rising and falling softly in a puffy, incredibly relaxed cloud of long black hair and white whiskers. But I can at least savor the satisfaction that one of us actually went mousing!