In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love, said Alfred Tennyson. In the fall, my fancy darkly turns to thoughts of death - murder, to be precise. The object of my disaffection is the many cute, little field mice that choose our 100-year-old farmhouse for their winter abode.
When I was young, my friend and I had a pseudo detective agency that we called, "The Hovering Eye". We took the owl's eye logo of Wise Potato Chips as our insignia. Recently, I've had to employ my old powers of observation, honed during my Hovering Eye days, to the problem at hand.
The first telltale sign that we had unwelcome guests were the black sunflower seeds I found between the folds of a quilt, in a stack of towels and inside my sneakers. I became suspicious that something was taking bites out of our paper towels and toilet paper. I would tear off a sheet, leaving a straight edge, only to find a ragged, saw-toothed edge in the morning.
I find it ironic that the computer tool we all use is called a mouse. I have a working relationship with this plastic clone. Perhaps, it is because its movements are within my control. The real live version is entirely different.
I can clear the kitchen counters and safely stow away our food, but when Mickey and Minnie scamper upstairs to the second floor and invade my bathing and sleeping space, I react. The day I saw a mouse in the upstairs bathroom was the day I declared WAR.
I've written about mice in the past, but this year there was a new twist to this old story. Bill came up from the basement and announced that there was a snake coiled up near the furnace. At first I thought this might be a good thing. Snakes eat mice, don't they? He could be our bouncer and catch them at their point of entry. But Bill put on his work gloves, brushed the snake into an empty tool box, and took him for a ride down Harrington Road, depositing him on the other side of the bridge.
Guess we'll have to fight this battle on our own. The death toll is up to three at this writing. The weather has just turned cold. It will be some time before victory can be declared.