We seem to have a mouse problem. Mice appear to like my garage and my kitchen. In the past week I’ve had two, or possibly three little furry visitors. One, unfortunately, my cat found for me. Bless her heart, I know she’s only doing what comes naturally to her, but I so hate finding the poor little mice barely alive. I pull out the rubber gloves, retrieve the dying rodent, say a few kind words, then dispose of it in the large trash can outside.
Two days ago my son said he saw one in the garage. Actually, he referred to it as a rat, but when I chased it down, it was no more than five inches from whiskers to tail. I opened the garage door and shooed it out into the rose bushes. I’m certain it will find its way back in again, and I’ll just as certainly shoo it out.
Tonight’s adventure concerned a little brownish-grey guy who had sought refuge under my oven. I was alerted to its presence by the cat again, who sat fixated on the rear corner of my oven. I pushed the cat out of the way, moved the oven away from the wall, and the poor little guy sat cowering in the corner, eyes wide and heart beating hard enough to shake his whole body.
Let me pause here and say – yes, I know it’s a rodent. Yes, I know that many rodents carry nasty diseases such as Hanta Virus. Ever since I was very small – and my mother and sister both will verify this for you should you wish – I have had a soft spot in my heart for even the lowest life forms. I don’t even squish spiders. I relocate them. Outdoors. Away from my house. I have been known to capture black widow spiders in a jar and take them down the street to the over-flow lot across from the high school.
Mice do not frighten me. Rats do not frighten me. Snakes do not frighten me. I grew up as one of the few girls in a boy-dominated neighborhood. There was a natural spring by our elementary school where the boys would go to capture frogs, polliwogs, water snakes, big bugs, and whatever other creepy crawlies they could find. I learned quickly that if one of the boys thrust a squirmy, slimy thing at you and you screamed, you became a favorite target from then on out. However, if you stood your ground, said “Cool, let me see,” instead, they typically replied “Go catch your own.” And so I would. I rusted out the bottom of at least two Red Flyer wagons this way. I once even took a giant marsh dragonfly to a summer school program and won “Most Unique Pet” for it.
Back to my mouse. After a few attempts to catch the little guy behind my oven, he managed to leap over the plastic bowl I was holding and dart into my living room. I didn’t get a good look at where he went, but I figured that eventually the cat would locate him and I could try again. Sure enough, I noticed the cat staring at the under side of the sofa in my dining room. I lifted the sofa slightly to see if I could get at the mouse. Chaos errupted. The cat went after the mouse. The sofa fell on my foot. I hobbled after the mouse and the cat, hoping to beat the cat to the mouse. The mouse ran behind the oven. The cat ran into the oven then looked at me as if to say it were my fault. I moved the oven. The mouse ran over my foot (the one the sofa had just met up close and personally), and then ran behind my refrigerator. I pulled the refrigerator out, but couldn’t see the mouse for all the dust bunnies back there. The cat dove behind the refrigerator because she can tell the difference between dust bunnies and dust-covered mice. The mouse bolted out and beneath the breakfast bar. I shoved the cat out of the way, and as the poor mouse ran into the corner and tried to climb the bare wall, I grabbed his tail.
Finally I had my quary. I took him out to the wood pile in the back yard and set him free. I’m certain he’s confused, and a lot colder than he had been hiding behind my appliances, but he’s got a great story for his little fuzzy buddies about getting away from a cat.
I spent the next half hour sweeping and cleaning behind my oven and my fridge. Here’s where things get very interesting. I pulled the oven out all the way from the wall for the first time in about five years. As I was sweeping, I heard an odd noise, unlike the typical junk that you sweep out of forgotten corners. There, hiding beneath my oven for the past five years, was my garnet and diamond ring. My husband had it made for me from another ring I’d owned as a Christmas gift. When we got our cat as a kitten, she was very fond of picking things up in her teeth and carrying them around. I was baking cookies one day and had taken off my jewelry and set it on the kitchen counter. As I turned to put the batch of cookies in the oven, I saw her hop down from the counter and run off with something. It didn’t take long to realize what it was.
I searched everywhere for that ring. I tore my kitchen apart, vacuumed out the heat vents, and cried myself silly when I couldn’t find it. I truly had given it up for a permanent state of missing. But there it was, under the oven, covered with dust bunnies. I’m glad that I didn’t hurt the mouse (intentionally or otherwise), but I’m even more glad now because I credit the little guy with giving me back my ring.
I guess we can add this to the “truth is stranger than fiction” files – but rest assured – this is going in a book one day!