Saturday, May 15, 2010

Petrified Marvel

Petrified Marvel!

The dog had died, and all the kids were grown and gone. It was way past time to get rid of the doggie door that was in the north wall of the wash room. It had served its purpose way too well. It had not only let in Schwartz, the pampered pet, but field mice as well. Our mouse count this year had increased to a two-digit number. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why I would want to even tell this story. I always thought that mice and rats were found in old, dark and dirty places. I hope that my house is an exception. I’m sure, the mice, have simply put the word out, free food and most important, air conditioning. I place the blame partly on my daughter’s dog. (The daughter and family had returned briefly to the nest to enable them to save for a bigger and better place.) The dog’s food and water bowl had to be placed somewhere. As the summer progressed, the mice seemed to become more brazen. Their territory increased. They no longer confined themselves to just the attic and the walls. I had no sooner said that I had not seen any signs of the rodents for a while, when I was sitting in my chair and a wee-tiny baby mouse ran behind both feet barely brushing my heels. I did not know that I was still capable of screaming and moving that fast! But, there being a kind God after all, the baby thing was found dead later on the patio. It is unknown, if my screams simply "burst" his or her ear drums, or if the daughter’s dog took revenge on my behalf. I would like to believe that the later is true.

The husband was forced to be the "emptier and the setter" of the mouse traps. I just can’t seem to do that. "Emptier," if I had to, but I cannot set the things. The lord knows I can’t even open a can of biscuits. I hate it when they (the biscuits) explode (which according to the husband) is rare. I think that is a fair trade. He sets the traps and I kill any and all spiders that the husband sees. It’s almost laughable the silly and harmless phobias that we are either taught or born with. We spent the entire summer yelling at the poor dog because he had let these pests into his turf. Did he have no pride?

So as fall began and days turned cool we realized the day had come. We would move everything out and demolition would begin. The first to go would be the hot water tank, the freezer, and then the washer and dryer. A lot depended on this renovation as well. I had made a bet with the husband that all of those heavy necessary appliances would fit on one wall giving us tons of space. I had a vision. It would be wonderful, more space for more "stuff." What more could a "pack-rat" want? When I returned to the room, being demolished, the husband mentioned that he had found something interesting. I glanced over in the general direction that he was pointing. There, on top of the washer, was a metal mouse trap and in it was a mummified (if there is such a word) mouse. He, she or it was almost completely fur-less with the exception of a tiny bit of grey fluff on his head and his back. The trap had caught his left hind leg. All the flesh and muscle had gone to some mysterious place and you could clearly see the bones of his legs, toes and ribs. Even the knobs in the tail were exposed. It was cool in a macabre way. Tiny white even teeth glinted in the light. We had no idea how long it had been under the freezer let alone where and when we had bought and set "metal" traps. Do I feel bad that this "creature" probably starved to death? NOT.

I could hardly wait to show the grand kids. I had vision that my eleven-year-old grandson would be the most excited wanting to take it to school to show his class. I was sure that it would win a prize at the science fair. I would line a small box with cotton and gently place the trap and the mouse within for the trip. I was sure that my other five-year-old Grandson would think that this petrified rodent was among the coolest things that he had ever seen. The first grandchild to be exposed to this miracle find was the oldest grand daughter. She jumped in fright, and a slight scream escaped her lips. She wanted no part of it and was not in the least bit interested in touching the trap. Her face contorted into a snarl of sorts asking what I was going to do with it. When I asked her if she did not think it was "neat" she shook her head in the negative declaring that I was indeed, "sick!" My oldest grandson’s reaction was about the same. He took a step back when I held it in front of him. When I asked him, he thought it was neat and if wanted to take it school, he simply looked me square in the eye and said, "why?" The youngest grandson’s reaction was more interesting. In his usual five-year-old inquisitive manner he had tons of questions as to why it was in the trap, where its skin had gone, but he too kept a fearful distance. Even the grown ups, in the family, thought the "thing" was gross! We all marveled that it did not appear to have any odor. Well at least none of us were brave enough to place our noses close enough to take a good sniff.

So what do I do with this petrified marvel. Should I keep it and hope that some day someone will appreciate it as much as I do? Perhaps there was a "science buff" out there that would appreciate it. Or should I just merely adjust my plan? Find that small box, turn it into a coffin and give it a proper burial? But, I’m leaning toward placing his or her front paws together and tell everyone how cute "it" looks praying for mercy. One thing this experience has taught me, I am indeed a "sick" person!

Written by: Pat Chastain

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