I see our resident mice have invaded the toaster, and one shot out from the open bread bin the other morning, leaping like a sky-diver from the bench to the ground below, and doing the most amazing twist to land on its feet. I feel if we don't do something, we'll end up like my friend Sandra's house where two mice were observed wrestling a Tux dog biscuit down the side of the dishwasher. The critical thing being that no-one in this animal-loving, vegetarian household reacted in the way you'd expect - no shrieking, no traps, no brooms to chase it away.
Bingo the dog lifted an eyebrow and went back to sleep, and one of the children checked his bowl to see there was enough left for him.
So what to do? It's a fine balancing act between being kind to timorous animals and being infested by Disney-type rodents with muscles and no fear. I hate the snap of the trap in the night, and perhaps a squeal, or worse, the sound of the panicked knocking on the ground as the mouse tries to free itself. Last time I used a trap - two years ago? - I was woken by the *snap* and then kept awake by the deep silence. In the morning, I found the trap empty. My son explained two days later that 'it was okay', he'd released the mouse because it wasn't dead.
Which leads me to this lovely reading of Robbie Burns' To A Mouse. I'd forgotten the way this poem moves from the little mouse disturbed in a field through to the way the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry .... It is marvellous for its tenderness for all that is mortal, all the struggles, all that feels pain and fear, and it isn't lofty or grand at all, just a man musing in a field, with a frightened mouse, displaying - in his feeling for this creature - his humanity and his own (greater?) fear of mortality. A downer ending, though, not your carpe diem sort of poem.
Still, I get the feeling I'd better just keep on closing the bread bin and put a cover over the toaster. Not even sure where the trap is anyway.
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!