As I was discussing last week’s post about our mouse wars with a family member, I was reminded that perhaps Lucy has mouse pacifism in her genetic make-up.
When I was fourteen years old, my dad had a job five hours away--he stayed at an apartment in Connecticut during the week and then drove back to our house in central New York until we sold the NY house and found a place for all of us in CT. One day, we ran out to the familiar sound of Dad’s Jetta pulling into the driveway. He got out, gave my brother and me hugs, and looked nervously at the house. He had that expression--something involving pursed lips, pulsing jaw, and slightly squinted eyes--that meant he was up to something. (We were familiar with the look after various birthday surprises.) He glanced at the house again and waved Nick and me toward the back of the car.
“Open the trunk,” he said. “Just...don’t tell Mom about it right now, okay?”
Now we were nervous. You couldn’t predict Dad’s surprises-- I mean, this is the guy who once “surprised” our four-year-old sister with a gift of a handful of earthworms. We gingerly opened the lid...and heard squeaking. We peeked into a plastic container and our hearts melted. It was full of mice--there were four adults, two white and two cinnamon-colored, and about seven tiny baby mice nuzzling against their mother’s side. We didn’t tell Mom. We did keep making surreptitious trips to the trunk at least once an hour.
Apparently a group of college kids who lived in the same apartment building as Dad had decided to buy a couple mice from the local pet store. Not for pets...of course not. They bought them to see if they would explode if they put them in the microwave. Somehow Dad discovered their perfidious plan, told them off as only an experienced dad can, and swept the mice away to safety. Well, relative safety--after all, Mom hadn’t found out about them yet.
But it was getting hard to keep them a secret. By the end of the weekend, there were a lot more than seven babies. A week later, they had completely outgrown the container. We all told Mom.
To our great dismay, she didn’t let us keep them. After all, there were a few dozen by now, and we were about to move. So we were given the option of either taking them to the pet store (where they would risk becoming snake food) or releasing them into the wild (where they would risk becoming, well, snake/owl/cat food...but at least have a chance to run). We chose the latter, though I wasn’t the only one teary-eyed as we let them go.
Don’t worry--there’s still a happy ending for all of you (Lucy included) who might be worried about the mice’s fate. Three weeks later, while walking on the path through the little patch of woods near the house, we saw a flash of white and pink dash under a pile of fallen leaves.
So, see, all you mice currently inhabiting the eaves of my house: I was a friend to mice! I was instrumental in saving your distant cousins from a terrible fate! Please, as a small sign of gratitude, stay out of my cupboards. You can have the eaves, if you must, but I beg you not to nibble through any more bags of rice.