Monday, October 25, 2010

Mouse in the House

My husband and I were peacefully watching TV when he suddenly jumped up and shouted, “There it is!”

“What? What?”

“The mouse! It just peeked its little head out from behind the TV cabinet and then ducked back in.”

We have a mouse in the house that has been bedeviling us for the past week or so. We first found evidence of its visit in our bread drawer. When we took out anything edible there it moved on to the pantry. We learned that it likes crackers, cookies, cereal, and sunflower seeds – all organic and pesticide-free. The mouse has discerning taste.

We bought a new kind of plug-in trap that emits high frequency sound and claims to repel mice but it seemed to be having more of an effect, and not a good one, on our pet cockatiel so we bought a humane, catch-them-alive trap instead. We baited it with peanut butter and waited. The trap was sprung but the mouse remained free. We bought a different kind of trap and tried again. And then a third, with the same results. Was the mouse toying with us? I could imagine it laughing when we checked the traps in the morning and found them empty.

Now, I am all in favor of sharing and recycling, but there are some health issues here. I hope this critter realizes that its choices are limited. Either we catch it alive, and soon, and release it to run free in a field somewhere or it eventually will have to be (I hate to even think of it) captured in a conventional trap and sent on to mouse heaven.

Does anyone have a suggestion for how to entice a mouse into a trap for its own good?
NOTE: My friend Harriet May Savitz and I wrote a picture book called The Story Blanket, which deals with sharing and recycling, kindness and community. It was just reviewed by , a lovely site with a positive outlook on children's books and reading. It's a great place to see what the young world community is reading. Here is the review if you would like to check it out.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Autumn is a Wondrous Time

Autumn is a wondrous time. The trees come alive, ablaze with color. The leaves are suddenly free to express the beauty that they have kept inside through the rest of the year. The streets, literally, are lined with gold.

It is my favorite time of year. I love the brilliance of the reds and golds, the various shades of orange, even the rich browns that line the deciduous trees until the leaves fall. Then there is the delight of crunching through the piles of leaves on the ground. I grab handfuls and toss them into the air. I can’t help grinning as I watch them spin on their way back down. Yes, there is work to be done - raking can be quite a chore – but the joy is worth it.

Then there is the crisp air that awakens the spirit. After the heat of the summer, it is sweet to wrap up in a sweater; it’s like giving myself a hug. It is also a time of reflection. A mug of hot cider with a friend reminds me of my connection to others and the warmth that connection brings. A brisk walk leads to appreciation when I step back into my warm, welcoming home.

Living in the northeast of the US allows me to experience the fullness of the seasons. I know that lots of people prefer a consistently warmer climate; in the middle of winter I can certainly understand. But now, in the fall, I can only be grateful for this gift.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sometimes It Takes a Tree

I don’t deliberately look for metaphors but sometimes one is directly in front of me and hard to ignore. In walking through a local wooded area, I came across a large, fallen tree. The trunk was rotted out, the roots were almost non-existent, and the branches were bare. It was obvious that it had been a tall tree full of leafy expression and expansive presence at one time. I don’t know how long it had been on its side or what caused its demise but I could still feel its energy and power. It had a place in the woods among the other trees yet it was also an individual that added something to the whole.

It’s easy to think of age as the only reason for a fallen tree; perhaps that is the most acceptable though health and circumstance often play roles in a tree’s downfall. However, its death does nothing to diminish what it had been. For a while it will be there physically for people to see and critters to use for their various purposes but one day it will be gone, its traces hidden by newer trees and plants until its being is barely a memory. But that doesn’t mean its life was worthless. It had provided much to the environment and whether or not it is remembered it will have left a lasting imprint on this earth.

And so, looking at this incredible life form, how could I not be affected? How, also, could I miss how alike all of nature is, including our own often exalted status as people? Sometimes it takes a tree to help us feel the value of being truly human.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chipmunk Bonanza

The temperature was cooler today, a reminder of the change of seasons and what will be coming as fall turns to winter. It is time to lay in seed. We feed the birds throughout the year though it seems we also feed a host of others as well. Some of our regular other customers are squirrels, rabbits, and chipmunks. They tend to scavenge the seed that has been tossed off the feeders. The chipmunks (nicknamed munkers by our great-nephew when he was two years old) reside underneath the hose box beyond our back window and behind the arborvitae on the side of the house. They are cautious creatures generally, perhaps because they are so small, but not so much when my husband cleans out the feeders, clearing out the seeds that start to sprout. Then the munkers lose all reticence. This little one came out at just the right time for a seed bonanza. He stuffed his cheeks and ran back to his burrow. He refilled those cheeks three or four times before deciding he had enough. We watched his cheeks expand with each seed payload; obviously his mother never told him not to stuff his mouth. And that is a good thing. He was stockpiling food for the cold weather. Chipmunks hibernate during winter but will awaken several times to munch on their accumulated stash.

I tend to stockpile goods, too, in our freezer. I freeze nuts and seeds (my grandmother used to do that and I do now), flour, home baked cookies, sliced summer veggies and luscious berries. Even though I can buy my groceries at the supermarket whenever I choose, it is still a comfort having that extra supply in the background. Not so different from the munkers, I guess. It keeps a person humble.