This is a tale from several years back, but I saw a field mouse running across the road when I picked up the morning paper and I now think of it as a happy memory.
It all began when my car couldn’t escape from the garage. No wait, it began when I noticed tiny rocks scattered about one of the patio stones next to the basement. I did what everyone does in a case like that — snapped a photo and posted on Facebook that “tiny paws burrowed under this patio stone, flipping up small stones and pieces of gravel. This can only mean one thing: one of the backyard field mice is attempting to communicate through petroglyphs.”
Close on the heels of that enigmatic manifestation, the garage door wouldn’t open. Instead, it jerked up a foot or so, then jerked back down with a thud. Admittedly, this was the original equipment from the 1970s, when there wasn’t the safety feature of an electric eye to prevent the heavy doublewide door from crashing on top of your car, or yourself. It barely passed inspection when we bought the house three years ago, but the homeowner refused to replace it and our house inspector advised “Just live with it until it stops working.” I tried pushing the UP button several more times. The apparatus was unresponsive the first two pushes, then repeated the jerking sequence. On the fourth push, the door quietly rose and I gunned the engine to get out before it changed its mind.
When I had told my husband about the tiny stones on the patio pavers, he immediately sprang into action. A true German, he felt everything must be in its place, and remain in its place, serving its purpose. He grabbed a broom, marched out to the backyard and cleared the field. Order restored. When I mentioned the problem with the garage door opening, he tested it out himself, couldn’t get it to move (it was currently down) with the inside button or either of our in-car clickers.
We took turns pushing various buttons for 15 minutes, then he suggested he would climb a ladder and try to fix it. I suggested we call the garage door people instead and, after another 15 minutes of pushing various buttons, he agreed. The expert quickly came and quickly identified the problem: a mouse nest caught up in the mechanism. Once that was removed, the door resumed opening and closing with as much alacrity as a 50-year-old garage door can muster.
Two days later, I discovered tiny black sprinkles in a kitchen drawer that I rarely open. The plot thickened when I opened another drawer used as a bread bin and was shocked to see the package of English muffins had been torn asunder, and one muffin nearly devoured. That is a personal space violation “up with which I will not put,” to paraphrase Churchill. I emptied all the drawers, transferred all consumables to the refrigerator and scrubbed everything. My husband decamped to the local hardware store, purchased several of the old-fashioned mousetraps, and gingerly put them in place at bedtime. I marked the locations with chartreuse sticky notes for security purposes.
The next morning, when he checked the first trap, there was no triumphant “Gotcha!” I couldn’t’ recall being awakened by the dreaded snap, so I assumed the worst had happened. This was soon confirmed with a lot of banging around, then a loud cry, “He took all the cheese and got away!” Now unsprung and both cheeseless and mouseless, the traps had to be carefully removed. At bedtime, more traps were set out with the bait more securely attached. I was awakened at 2 a.m. with a loud snap, and then again at 6 a.m. with a booming “Gotcha!”
Order restored; services will be private.