We have a mouse in our kitchen. Once I saw its shape skitter under a counter, and last week, when it thought we were all napping, I caught it on the stove top, next to the burner I use most often. In fact, that burner was my destination as I headed into the room.
And there, next to it, shivering in terror, was this very real, probably intelligent little creature. Its body bespoke fear with an openness most of us try to hide, most of the time. Countless children’s tales flashed into my head all at once, convincing me it knew that if it had followed its mother’s advice more carefully, no human would be staring at it right now.
The historian’s mind flipped on. For most of the world, for most of its life, living with mice and rats was the norm. You tried not to have them run over your face, not to stir their droppings into your food when you picked it up off the unprotected shelf. And of course, their presence meant fleas as well, the constant itching of vermin as well as refusal to bathe in the heatless, endless winters. No wonder people have a love for cats. No wonder it was God’s mercy to have invented them.
The auntie-mind kicked in. Nephew Number Two, for some reason, keeps pet mice. They have names, and at the end of their few months of life, get thrown away with some degree of commemoration. He’s an understated man, is Nephew Number Two, but over Christmas, he and his wife were hurrying home to feed and water one of these little creatures, despite having given it extra to tide it over their multi-day absence. He wouldn’t have doubted the emotions, the intelligence, of this little Beatrice Potter illustration in my kitchen.
But alas, our health needs must be met. So we ordered a trap — which we won’t have to empty, it will contain this little victim and his or her relatives — and when it comes, we’ll put it in the kitchen.
But we’ve agreed between us that as we put out this trap, we’ll borrow from the spirit of Native American hunters and eaters, to ask pardon and give thanks for all the animals we humans must kill to promote our own interests. Maybe someone has some to pass along, or else I’ll do the trust Google search and see what turns up. I might just improvise, drawing on what I saw that night, and what Lynne experienced as a vet tech, euthanizing ever so many innocent, beautiful animals.
We prefer to foster and save them, but sometimes it just isn’t possible. So take your time, eBay, about sending the trap. I haven’t seen the little mouse since, and it’s nice to know it’s sentence, for at least these last few days, has been suspended.