Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Mouse and man: the big lessons little things can teach

It’s curious how little things can teach big lessons. Or, to view the same incidents from another angle, how much you can learn from experiences which that are far from pleasant.

For instance, I can get quite high-minded about our need, as a species, to learn to share the space we inhabit with other forms of life. I find the way we’re driving species after species to extinction entirely shameful and to be resisted. Sadly, however, my commitment to this principle has certain limits.

It seems I am not overwhelmingly enthusiastic about sharing my immediate living space with those charming little rodents so endearingly anthropomorphised by Hannah Barbera as Jerry. Mice in my kitchen? No thanks, is all I can say. In fact, despite the cartoons, when it comes right down to it, to harsh reality, I’m firmly on the side of Tom.

In fact, come to think of it, we have our Tom. And a very good mouser Misty is too. He catches the little blighters all the time. Outdoors. Which is why I’m more than a little disappointed that he hasn’t rid of us of the little beggars who have chosen to make themselves a comfortable, and no doubt cosy, home in the cupboard where we keep our pans.

Endearing. But a metaphor for the problems of our time:
happy to consume, not always to deliver
I have to be careful what I say about Misty, because I think he follows this blog. He certainly makes me suffer foR it if I ever say anything about his weight, which continues to become increasingly impressive (whoops, I’m for it now). He’s not above using his teeth or claws, but often he likes to be more subtle, and merely come to lie on me in bed at night, which isn’t conducive to easy rest. It’s becoming less and less conducive as his prodigious achievements in turning cat food into cat continue relentlessly (whoops, now I’m really in trouble).

I like to tell myself that he lies on me out of affection though, frankly, it works perfectly well as a punishment. Misty’s a cat who, when he lies on you, leaves you in no doubt that you’ve been lain on.

Well, he hasn’t freed us of our kitchen infestation. I hardly dare say it, but there are times, Misty, when I’m uncertain what purpose you serve, other than to hoover up cat biscuits.

So the mice stayed put. And instead we had to invest in that other mouse trap, the type that comes in the form of an actual trap. Without fur, four claw-lined paws and a mouth full of needle-sharp teeth.

A mouse trap was the little thing that taught me a couple of big lessons.

I’d forgotten just how unpleasant those traps are. I’m not fond of lethal weapons, and these are merciless, perfectly designed to break the back of a small rodent. And I had to bait and set them myself.

Then came the test. Would I be prepared to look inside, to check on what I suppose I’d have to call the catch? It took some willpower. But in the end, I summoned it up.

Merciless. Effective. Lethal
There was nothing to see until this morning. When, having made sure my wife was well away from the dismal scene, I found two sprung traps with two sad little, and decidedly dead, bodies.

And then I made my second discovery. I felt none of the revulsion or pity I’d expected. Just satisfaction that two at least (possibly all?) of the interlopers would bother us no more. A plastic bag, an easy action on the mechanism of the traps, a quick trip to the bin, and the remains were gone.

I suppose I should be relieved it proved so simple. And yet somehow I feel I should be more guilt ridden. Two little lives viciously snapped short, and I merely feel glad to be free of their presence?

Can’t be right. Can it?

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