We have a mouse. Not a welcome mouse. Not a cheerful friend who squeaks adorably and nibbles cheese in a charming fashion. This one gnaws at the corners of things and leaves droppings in the cabinets. I am not pleased. I am, in fact, embarrassed. As if my house is unclean. Which it is, but not pest-level unclean. Or so I thought.
Our guest is a lovely shade of brown. I know this because last night when I returned home it was on the counter; I watched as it scurried into an oven vent. Not long after, the oven was on for several very, very hot hours. Coincidence? You decide.
The turkey was delicious. There was no mousearoma in our supper. I was a tad disappointed.
Demon Dog remains aloof from the excitement of mouse hunting. I am disappointed. He has terrier blood; he should be intent on defeating this unwelcome addition to our family. Instead he drapes himself before the kitchen's heating vent, or claims the entire floor in front of the woodstove, basking in warmth. I need a cat. Bonus? A cat would leave room for me to warm my toes.
The rodent -- or, more realistically, rodents, because they multiply and scrabble inside walls and the noises, oh, the noises and imaginings of wee beasts test-tasting the niblet-like toes of my children -- has thus far ignored the peanut-butter baited traps. I've escalated to raisin bread. Who can resist raisin bread?
In the meantime I wash and wipe and sweep the neglected corners of my home. The children are being trained ever more enthusiastically how to clean up spills and put food away. I check the traps and sweep again. I obsessively empty the crumb tray of the toaster, denying cruel and sinister thoughts that liken a simple household appliance to the electric chair.
Scrubbing and fuming gives me time to ponder boundaries. The summer place in Vermont is rife with mice, but I do not mind them so much. We visit only every other summer, while they make it their home year-round. We are the invaders there. They disappear at our noisesome tromping. Some nights they take advantage of my carelessness -- striated tooth marks in an apple on the counter, a missing corner from the loaf of bread atop the refrigerator. They cannot be excluded, anyway. There are gaps and openings in walls and at corners. It is a camp, a transitory place. Here, in this house? The presence of a mouse disrupts the sense of solidity and security of my home. It is an unwelcome reminder that I do not truly control my little world. Perhaps I should be grateful. Maybe I will -- after the traps do their vile work, and I claim my home again.