I don’t know why it affected me so much, I guess because I have so many mice that share this old house with me. They run and play and are seemingly unaffected by the large beings that inhabit “their” house. They enjoy the food that finds its way on the floor and under cabinets. In one day we caught 4 (the number of little humane cages that we have) took them for a drive and released them into their new environments, only to catch 4 the next day as well. Peter said that he has never seen so many mice before. He thinks the unusually warm weather has brought them out of their hibernation and into the house in search of food. I think they are here to keep me company and to fill that special place in my heart reserved for animals.
There was a hole in my floor from a former pipe. It was small, almost the right size for a little mouse to crawl up from. One day Herman (all the mice are named Herman) poked his tiny head through the hole and started chewing the wood to make the hole bigger. I heard it and looked up just as he was trying to get his shoulders through the hole. I told him to stop it and he darted back in to the hole. Later that evening, mouse forgotten, I retired to my room. That is when I saw how hard Herman had been working. He was sitting near my dresser and as I startled him, he ran across the floor and took a nose dive into the hole. I laughed and thought oh how cute, I now have a little mouse living in my room.
I got ready for bed and sat quietly reading keeping an eye on the hole. Sure enough Herman came up and ran under my bed. He became used to my presence and continued to widen the hole, I guess making room for his fat brother or something. The gnawing became annoying so I figured I would chase him back into the hole and then put a book over it for the night. A thought easier said than done! He must have read my mind because he ran everywhere instead of down the damn hole. After about an hour of chasing and cornering the little fellow, I finally went and got the trap. I put it near the hole and watched the hungry guy walk right in and then jump and squeal when the door slammed behind him. I was laughing at him and told him that he was welcome in my room anytime; he just has to be quiet at night. And since it was night and cold, I couldn’t take him far so I let him go out the front door ready to see him again the next day. I put a book over the hole and went to sleep.
I have had more memorable times with the Herman's that live here. So when I went out to the bio-box (where we dump our food waste) and saw the dead little guy I was overcome with sadness. The worst part was that he had tried to jump out of a hole in the large plastic bio-box. The lid on the box was broken at the hinge, hence the hole. When he jumped out through the hole, he became stuck at the hip and could neither get back in or out so the fat brother starved to death while hanging half in and half out; an ironic death for him. I composed myself and went to Peter and told him that I would like to show him something at the bio-box. He was busy, but said we could go later. I could not get the image of him hanging there out of my mind.
Something then came to me….in the line of work I am prepared to enter, then there may be a time when I am face to face with a dead person, even a child, so if I cannot handle removing a little creature from his death trap then how will I deal with a much larger grave situation? I went out to the box and gently removed the little guy and laid him in the box to become one with the refuse, which will be incorporated into the garden in the spring. It was not so sad anymore and I jammed a stick into the hole so it will not happen again. Every day brings another experience to learn from and to find out more about myself.
As I type this another Herman scoots across the floor in search of some fallen food and I have to smile.