Friday, November 12, 2010

Learning to Mouse

I hate rodents. For two reasons.
  1. They destroy things.
  2. They cause anxiety in my home.
Regarding item two, allow me to clarify. Little, fast-moving fuzzy creatures with tails and sharp teeth do not cause personal anxiety. Not directly, anyway. My anxiety ratchets up a notch by the reaction they bring from others who share my home.

Picture "damsel in distress" meets a scream that can only be heard by dogs...or harried husbands/fathers beckoned to husbandly/fatherly duty.

Since our rural home sits on a parcel of land surrounded by fields, it offers an annual refuge for field mice seeking food and shelter once the cold November weather arrives. After 13 autumns spent living in Chelsea, I've adapted to this unwelcome aspect of country living.

During our first few years in town, we were blessed with two cats - Ashes and Abner - who were natural mousers. Often this tandem was so efficient that Missy was not even aware there were mice co-habitating with her. The cats would do their job, leave me the remains for disposal and the house was devoid of ear-piercing cries for help. Life was good...and quiet.

But the cats grew older and more feeble. They could no longer mouse like they used to and I was pressed into service for the remainder of their lives. But despite repeated efforts to hone my skills, I was not as skilled a hunter.

My lowest point came during Emma's first-grade year...the year when Chelsea students really start to write in their journals...and share their versions of family life - without the all-important parental filter that helps to prevent embarassment.

Excited by an eventful weekend at home, Em wrote an eloquent journal entry on Monday, detailing how we discovered a mouse in her bedroom that was staring at her with its "bedy litl eyes" from the top of her "cabnet." It would have been fine had she ended her entry there. Instead, my eldest shared how "Dady grabbed a plastik gof club, hit the mouse on the hed and kilt it."

Reading her journal, all I could picture was the mouse, bedecked in traditional Scottish garb like our old Pine Tree Camp friend Kenny Bonnar, pleading for mercy before meeting its fate.

I think Em's first-grade teacher may still be in therapy. I think of her every time I click on the golf channel. But I digress.

For years, my less-than-adequate mouse-ridding skills were all my family could rely on...until Thursday night. That's when the investment I made last December finally started to show positive gains. Our two new cats, Callie and Lily, were crazily moving around the den as they worked to corner a young mouse that unfortunately caught their attention.

Granted, the money I plunked down for two spayed eight-week-old kittens at the Kennebec Valley Humane Society in Augusta was not done with the thought of relieving my duties. After 16 years, we had just said goodbye to Ashes, the last of our original mousers, and I could not envision our home without cats in it.

So while my act may have been self-serving, it has some additional benefits beyond the companionship "the girls" provide.

I may soon be able to remove "mouser" from my list of family responsibilities and refocus this energy elsewhere - working to pay for the counseling my children will undoubtedly need.

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