Some friends reported a recent adventure involving a Caddyshack-type escapade of trying to rid their home of mice who had decided to move in for the winter. This is a regular winter occurrence for many people who live in cold-weather areas, no matter how diligently they try to keep the little guys out. Mice are funny little creatures. Put them in a movie, give them a name or a hat, and voila – they’re cute, cuddly, entertaining little friends. Think Stuart Little. Put them in a field with a little nest or house and they’re story book material. Give them cousins from the city and they’re folksy lesson teachers. But put them in our homes and they become hated vermin. They’re symbols of the apocalypse, bringing bubonic plague and other disasters upon the earth.
Now a days, although mice are pesky, messy, dirty and destructive, it’s unlikely that they bring plague. They’re more nuisance and expense (exterminator anyone?) than scary. So why are we afraid of mice? Why do they evoke in us the feeling of wanting to scream, run, or stand on a chair? Well, for one thing, they’re fast. You see a dash of brown out of the corner of your eye, but seldom see the actual mouse. That mousey swoosh makes you feel creepy – after all that could have been your bare foot they’re running over when they swoosh across the room. You never know where they are or where they’ll show up next. And they’re sneaky. They can outsmart you and all your fancy traps in no time. They can steal the cheese and escape unharmed, making them seem almost super-human, er super-rodent. They perplex us and outwrangle us year after year, to the point that people invent more and more contraptions to capture them and keep them out. Yet, they persist. Maybe we’re afraid of them because it turns out they’re smarter than us!
I recall a favorite story from a collection of essays entitled Tales of the old UP by Cully Gage. The author recounts tales of his youth while growing up in Michigan’s upper peninsula. I don’t have the book handy so I may be misquoting here, but I believe the story was called “Aunt Lizzy’s Mice.” As a young boy the author was given the task of ridding his aunt’s home of mice. There was no Orkin or Terminex back then, no clean, hygienic traps. His methods involved a bucket, a tin can, some wire and bacon. (you probably don’t really want to know the rest) He cleared out most of the mice easily enough until he got down to the last three stubborn rodents whom he named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. No matter what he did he couldn’t catch those three.
I hope my friends get rid of their mice, and I hope all of you stay clear of the Shadrachs, Meshachs and Abednegos trying to move into your home for the winter.
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