Houseguest

mouse
(Free online photo, marked available for reuse. I ran it through a Dreamscope filter.)

We struggle every winter with the houseguests. Usually they take up residence in the bathroom drawers, stealing cotton balls and Q-tips, knocking over my little bottles of oil, and getting high off of loose cough drops and allergy meds. We’ve learned to keep such things in jars.

Sometimes they invade the kitchen, too, and that feels like more of a cause for concern, but it does force us to become more fastidious about keeping our countertops clean.

We’ve become familiar with several brands of no-kill traps. There was a time when I let the frustration of the constant escapes from the no-kill traps drive me to the snap traps, but that just always feels so terribly unbalanced, and then there was the incident a few years ago when I was carrying a dead mouse downstairs and one of the smallfolk saw me, burst into tears, and wailed, “You don’t have to KILL them!”

The Skunk Hollow mice are too smart for the no-kill traps, however. It’s been a long time since we’ve actually caught a mouse, although we diligently add new peanut butter every few days. It’s become less of a trapping program and more of a feeding program.

This morning as I was sitting in the dining room typing, a rustle on the kitchen counter caught my ear. I looked up in time to see a tiny four-footed person with a long tail whisking across the counter from behind the microwave and squeezing behind the cutting board propped up behind the sink. Moments later, nose and whiskers poked out the other side, and the Small One dashed toward the counter edge by the refrigerator.

Clamped tightly between her teeth, she held a red plastic bottle cap from a half-gallon of cider. At the edge of the sink, she became aware of me watching her, stopped, lifted her head, started to dash forward again, but tripped over her bottle-cap treasure and accidentally dropped it. She raced on to the counter-edge, sans prize. But seconds later, she re-appeared, ran back, picked up her bottle cap, and plunged over the edge between counter and fridge. I heard the bottle cap drop, then the scuttle of little mouse to the floor, and I was back to my quiet solitude again.

After that, how could I get out the snap traps again? She needed her bottle cap for something. Perhaps she’s completing a full set of dishes for her little mouse house. Perhaps I should start leaving bottle caps out for her on the counters. Still, I don’t really like the thought of a mouse on the counters, adorable as she is. We’ll have to upgrade our no-kill traps to something more successful, I suppose.

Gratitude List:
1. The wee four-foot folk
2. On the way to school today, a golden ray of rising sun shot out above the ridge from the direction of home. Yes.
3. How this ancient cat still plays, sometimes, like a kitten.
4. All my Beloveds. The hill, and the tree on the hill, and the wind in the tree on the hill. The mouse and the cat whose mousing days are done. The children who are preparing birthday celebrations for the man and the man whose birthday it is. And you. All my Beloveds.
5. The young woman who spoke her story today, to hundreds of her peers, who told of a good life in Syria, of the beautiful city of Aleppo that she loved, of her friends and her school, and her grandparents’ farm. Of how the bombs destroyed their home, how they fled on foot through the nights to Turkey where people were suspicious of them, assuming them to be allied with ISIS. Of coming to the US to make a new home. Of how the city and the school and some of the beloved friends are no more. May her words nurture seeds of compassion and action in the gathered community, that we may all seek to create safety for those who run from danger.  May her courage inspire us to acts of courage.

May we walk in Love.

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