Did you note the phrase, ‘tried to hike’? Please consider this blog introduction to be a brief reminder to self and to others to always read the sign-board, located at the trail-head, before you begin hiking the trail. We didn’t.
I didn’t because I expected to read the same warnings that are on all the sign boards, like: Don’t run if confronted by a coyote. Make yourself look big. Play dead if you are attacked by a bear. Make a loud noise. Fight back if attacked. If charged by a moose, say five Hail Marys and find a big tree to dive behind or find a big tree to dive behind and say five Hail Marys.
Anyway, not one of us did more than turbo eye-ball the sign before we all cluelessly ventured forth and found out, after covering half the trail’s distance, that we couldn’t get over the fast flowing, very cold river which separated us from the rest of the trail. BECAUSE THE *$%^& BRIDGE WAS GONE!
The sign we didn’t read was this one:
Now, I want to declare, right off the top, that the mice around here have been troublesome. Take, for example, the year I stored my spanking new snowblower in the tool shed and the mice, during the summer, chewed, twisted and bent the rubber gas line into something more amenable to a mouse’s needs. First time I needed the blower, for snow-blowing purposes, guess what? It wouldn’t start and it was off to a small engine shop where they replaced the gas line. The next winter, when I wanted to use the snow-blower, the belt broke. It was off, once again, to a small engine shop to fetch a belt. I’d decided I’d be the man and install it myself.
So, there we were. Me putting on the belt and Sue, using needle-nosed pliers to surgically pick wee mouse faces, feet and other sundry pieces of mouse body parts out of the belt housing.
Apparently, when I’d started the snowblower, the belt had torn the crap out of the mouse nest and the poor mice. Very sad and most disturbing, if you let your imagination run freely.
Oh, and by the way, no matter how many people tell you that moth balls keep mice away, all I can say is they haven’t worked for us. Maybe our mice wore gas masks. Who knows? But when I placed moth balls around the snow-blower motor and other parts, all I got was mice construction.
Once I sprinkled moth balls around in my hockey bag, before I stored it in the tool shed over the summer. When the next hockey season began, I received some cute remarks from a couple of hockey players after unzipping my hockey bag in the locker room let the sweet, delicious odour of moth balls escape.
One guy, who sat beside me, said, as he was breathing in the moth ball scent, “I love the smell of moth balls.”
Another fella said, “The smell reminds me of my grandmother.” Now isn’t that cute? And he was one heck of a big hockey player.
So, I can imagine a mouse saying, “Moth balls remind me of the old Christmas cake I munched on in grandma’s cupboard.”
Every morning I’d check to see how many mouse pelts I’d captured. I’d find dead mice in traps, traps that hadn’t been touched, traps with live mice in them or a missing trap. The last scenario was the most worrisome. Where was the trap? Was there a mouse caught in it? Was it suffering or dead? Quite an existential dread would often overcome me.
I did this for a few weeks, but because of the above worries I decided to let the mice enjoy the tool shed. In order to do this, I made sure all our valuables were in sealed plastic containers. Of course, this disappointed the crows, who’d quickly learned that mouse steaks were appearing on the lawn like clock-work. Every morning a row of crows would perch along the telephone wires waiting for the morning breakfast bell.
Sorry crows. Life is complicated. All nuanced up to its ass. You help one species at the cost of another.
This one mouse was good. Really good. A Houdini. Because in the morning when I checked to see if I’d caught a mouse, I’d find a fat nothing. Always a big fat nothing. The peanut butter licked away as neatly as if done by a professional safe-cracker. No snap, snap, dead for this critter.
This happened three times. So, I bought another trap. A plastic one.
What you do is load the peanut butter bait inside a little compartment which has a hole in it. Then you place it under the sink, where you know they’re congregating for meals.
What should happen is that Houdini would smell the peanut butter, his addiction would kick in, and he’d carefully and stupidly stick his head into the little hole, causing the box to lift up, which would release the jaws of death and BAM!! Houdini is floating with his harp through his own personal heavenly portal.
The next morning there was the trap. It’s jaws had gone, chomp chomp, as per instructions and by the blood staining the area around the trap, the chomping had been down on a mouse. However, there was no mouse. Houdini had escaped again. What a guy! What a mouse!
That’s when I changed my tactics. I went to the hardware store and bought a live trap. It doesn’t kill. What happens is the mouse enters the trap through a cute little foyer, walks up a ramp, steps off the ramp and is face to face with a tantalizingly delicious dollop of peanut butter. However, when he is finished chowing down he is trapped. Because the exit is sealed.
The next morning, there he was. Inside the trap. Now, do you know how far you’re supposed to take the little fella before you release him. Two miles. Two friggen miles!
The other problem was that we were trapped in the trailer. Because we live in a snow belt, and by the way, for all those who think they are getting accurate weather reports about our area, forget it. For an accurate forecast of our weather conditions you will have to go to: www.twilightzonegrabursnowhoes.com!
Took wee Houdini to a nice little place, which I won’t describe, but I will say it wasn’t a place that was owned by anybody I liked.
Struggled to the back of the little building, put the portable home under the structure, covered it with some snow, so as to weigh it down and then opened the cage. Houdini popped his head out and then ran like hell.
The problem is, I didn’t take him two miles from our place and, NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH! I caught another mouse last night and this morning I found the cage, empty and with the peanut butter all licked away.
Is Houdini back? Has he held escape workshops and do we now have a whole crapload of intelligent mice who have escape diplomas? Are we, although living in a forty-five foot trailer in the woods, actually witnessing Darwin’s theory of evolution speeding up?
Why, last night, I said to Sue, “Write it all down, my love. We’re going to be more famous than Darwin.”
“Write it down yourself, my love. I’ll edit it. That’s my job.”
Evolution. Houdini...and sometimes I wonder which way I’m evolving.
My thumb of a child that nuzzled in my palm? --
To run under the hawk's wing,
Under the eye of the great owl watching from the elm-tree,
To live by courtesy of the shrike, the snake, the tom-cat.
I think of the nestling fallen into the deep grass,
The turtle gasping in the dusty rubble of the highway,
The paralytic stunned in the tub, and the water rising,--
All things innocent, hapless, forsaken.
Theodore Roethke, The Field Mouse