Daniela Ginta, The Mindful Writer

Freelance Writer and Photographer, Author of the Mindfulness Blog

Tag: mice

Of Mice and Us. Take Two

thatI once owned a mouse in Vancouver. She was actually a gerbil accused of unprovoked violence by her previous owners, cute and beady-eyed like any respectable rodent. She became the object of my compassion after I saw her gnaw at the metal bars of her cage with the desperation of the unfairly incarcerated. I said yes to host her for two weeks and then made her ours. A case of falling for a mouse.

I remember driving all the way to Surrey to get her a glass tank where she could play gerbil and hide in tunnels she could change the orientation of as she saw fit. I also looked far and wide for the proper bedding material.

Alas, that home was only her occasional residence. She found her way outside the tank one sunny afternoon and after that I figured we could have her as our free-range rodent as long as she would go in her quarters every now and then.

It worked, save for a few minor instances of mouse-wary friends screaming bloody murder as they saw her run across the kitchen floor. No need for a conversation starter as you can imagine.

She would come when I offered her food. Talk about bridging the species gap. We had good communication and, though she was a rodent (according to the Smithsonian’s Natural History Guide, a Mongolian jird, to be precise) I never associated her with… well, mice.

She had raised herself above the condition of a mere mouse by the virtue of responding when called upon and extending her little front paw to grab food as it was offered to her.

Fast-forward five years and I find myself owning mice again. Not by volition mind you, but by circumstance. We live in the shadows of two pine trees and near some wild tall grasses that hide small openings in the ground. Mice live there, little boy informed me one day. He found evidence to back up the occasional sightings: a mini skull, well preserved and interesting to look at.

Someone said ‘Be careful so they won’t come inside.’ I gave the thought some possibility but employed a plump supply of denial and optimism to get myself to ‘Nah!’ in no time. I stayed there in my cozy little denial corner until a gaze thrown lazily one morning into the cutlery drawer revealed the telltale signs of mouse invasion. The horror!

According to a charming book that used to be the boys’ favourite, ‘Little Mouse on the Prairie’ by Stephen Cosgrove, field mice resent the cold weather. Once you get past the cuteness of the big eyes (eye lashes included), you are presented with the reality of how much mice steer clear of the jolly season.

Yes, according to many sources, plus evidence at hand, field mice resent the cold weather and they try their best to escape it. A warm kitchen usually solves the chagrin. Ours in this case.

With evidence staring me in the face (yes, it did, from the jar lids drawer), denial withered and made room for panic and disgust. Lots of room, that is. Except that though we had a few rough murine encounters in our previous abode, compassion gets the best of me and once again I found myself searching for ‘humane removal of mice.’

Peppermint essential oil garnered a lot of support. Twelve dollars later, every drawer and surface in the kitchen smelled like a candy cane. ‘Tis the season indeed.

For two nights and days, order was restored and humans reigned supreme in their own kitchen, touching surfaces without any mousey afterthought and thinking ‘How amazing!’

Then, everything came to a halt in a most atrocious manner. I discovered a mouse in a bottle that once had maple syrup. An artsy glass contraption that little boy liked and made it his. Until a particularly curious mouse met its untimely end in the very bottle. This is our second mouse mummy. With Halloween approaching I could see some practical applications, given the nature of the specimen, but that is not of importance now.

We parted with the bottle in sheer disgust but considered the incident a sign from above. Bottles, humane trapping, happy ending without suffering… Right. Well, I am here to inform you that no bottle did it anymore. The sheer mechanics of their escape from the bottle is mind-boggling.

Mouse Olympics or not, our mice are badass when it comes to jumping out of bottles: tall, short, wide or narrow opening-bottles, nothing prevents them from getting the bait and jumping out like the victors that they are.

More peppermint, more minty whiffs as I open the drawers and navigate through the kitchen. No, I do not particularly like candy cane and I have the feeling that mint tea will take the way of the dodo. The mouse accents are just too strong.

I bathed the house in essential oils, peppermint and tea tree. But more is not always better. The mouse (mice) must’ve found a way. Once again, back to the drawing board. This time, murine compassion was left at the door like a wet umbrella. Really, what do you do when negotiations fail miserably? I am one step away from hearing chewing sounds around the house. Wait, I am already there. Never mind.

We used Balderson’s for bait. It worked. We might just win. We have, after all, not only home advantage but also a big supply of cheese and peanut butter. We will not be defeated. Or have our cutlery stepped on again.

In retrospect, I really wanted this to be peaceful. I do not believe in violence. Then again, how much peppermint can you drop around the house without getting dizzy? Half a bottle’s worth will do nothing. The mice will poop on it. Literally. This is no Hollywood. Happy ending in this case is where man and beast part ways. Garbage day is on Monday. Farewell.

A Farewell To Mice (Yeah, You…)

The two of you that ran across the living room and entrance hallway this morning may have had a point. That the place will be yours again soon. Which is why I didn’t bother look twice. So it’s true. You win.

We felt victorious for those three days or so of decimating (have we though?) your troops a while ago, but I had this nagging thought at the back of my mind that though it was hard to get ten mice in a couple of days, it was a bit too easy after all. I was right.

You laid quiet for a few days. We put away all food overnight, every night, save for a piece of mozzarella I left on the counter – on purpose! – and you did not touch it. Nice refraining from what nature tells you to do. I know, your beady eyes (and no, I do not want to know how many) were focused on the larger goal, and that was to make us believe that you are not here anymore. It almost worked. Almost.

I heard you a couple of nights ago and blamed the heat gushing out the vents and ruffling the Christmas play announcements stuck to the fridge. Deep down I knew it was you and I had a feeling it would come to this. You are not the only ones relying on that sixth sense, just so you know.

I appreciate the decency in not touching our food anymore, I do. The raucous group that we ousted a while ago created some damages in the food department and that is just not right. I know, nature calls and such, but come on… We did not take revenge on them though, just so you know, it was simply too much to take even for the kindhearted. Your teeth marks are simply atrocious to discover around the house.

As for cuteness, my husband puts it bluntly: Just don’t look at them up close, there is nothing cute about that. He knows, he got to see a few while dutifully removing them from the premises once the snap happened. Snap! Oh, sorry, did the word evoke some bad memories? Welcome to the club then, I too have been touched by the mighty sound. Even the accidental ones get my heart rate up now. Yours too? There you are, we are united by an interspecies bridge that will cease to exist once we leave the house.

It’ll be soon, no need to worry. You probably do not worry, based on your confident trotting through the house in early morning. For mice, I have to give it to you, you have guts. A cat would appreciate that even more; literally. Just thank your lucky stars that due to my son’s allergy you are not about to see a feline anytime soon.

So you win. We tried, we sure did, but you prevailed.

By the way, the space behind and underneath the stove is all clean now; enjoy! Same for the space behind the fridge, though we noticed you don’t use that one much. A spare perhaps, for guests popping in? Maybe we ousted a few during the days of multiple trapping. Apologies. City mouse should’ve instructed country mouse about the perils of the human abodes.

Oh yes, laugh about the human abodes all you want. I know there’s been no decent bathroom in the last month here, no laundry either, and the furnace broke down just as we are about to vacate. Human troubles, not that you care. The modem cable seemed to have some issues lately too… Wait a second… You didn’t, did you? That’d be low, too low, even for a mouse. Revenge is the weapon of the fool, I was raised with that belief. Don’t go that way.

While we’re at life lessons, you may want to take a look at the charming “The tailor of Gloucester” by Beatrix Potter. Nifty little tricks those mice pulled. They proved to be helpful and nice to the guy who lived there. Correction: to the guy in whose house they lived. Don’t roll your eyes, there is no debate. It’s humans who build the homes, you just move in. So there. You’re simply profiting, admit it. Hey, I am not judging, you’re the ones who have to live with it. I am pointing out that your British relatives seemed to have agreed to help in exchange for rooming. Feeling inspired?

Anyway, the tailor’s story… you may want to take a peek and learn a thing or two. There was no mentioning of droppings anywhere by the way, and that’s a fact. European elegance, what can I say. Oh, and the manners; exquisite. Go read for yourself. No, we won’t leave the book behind, go find your own. Try vintage, it tastes better than the new stuff. But what do I know…

So farewell, fellow mice, it’s been interesting. We’re done trapping you. For the few days we have left here, walk in peace and remember to pay it forward. As a sign of respect, if you can keep the scampering to a bare minimum (portable potty is outside by the way, not that you care) we would greatly appreciate it. It makes for better mornings when the house is an untoasty 15.

Oh, in the interest of fairness, you should know that I know that you stole a few of the chocolate wafers the boys love so much. I found them behind the stove, half eaten with those atrocious teeny teeth marks on. If I were you I’d watch my diet a wee bit more. All those treats add to the waist and guess who will not make it through the hole when they need to?

You’re welcome. We won’t miss you!

PS: For your information, it is true what Roald Dahl mentions in “Matilda” about the heartbeats. Your ticker goes about 670 or so per minute. Impressive, but don’t let it get to your head. You have a small bladder, nothing to brag about. I know, I know, the joke’s on us ‘cuz you peed all over the house because of that. Which is why I do not feel sorry for the tail that belonged to that first mouse we caught, the tail my husband accidentally removed part of during a man-to-beast scuffle; and no, you cannot have it, it’s been long thrown into the garbage. He did not mean to inflict any suffering, by the way, it was just the imbalance of forces…

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