Animal Magnetism

Is it the Chinese year of the rat or mouse or rodents in general? No? I guess it’s the year of the ox. So maybe it’s just the Sandy year of the rodent. As my faithful readers may recall (and I love you all to bits) I had marauding rodents in my garden earlier this year. I managed to tame them with an electronic Pied Piper; the tune is not to their liking, so they stay away. However, my animal magnetism seems to persist. Let me explain.

In August, I went paddle boat camping with a friend on the Saco River. The parking lot for the boat ramp is dirt and grass and is close to a big field. l had parked there in July without incident. In August, I had 4 days of great camping and we got back to the car in the late afternoon. We got the boat on the car and the equipment packed up and headed out for the 3-hour drive back to Boston. In New Hampshire there are only a few lights before it’s pretty much all highway. Once we got close to Boston, I took Storrow Drive and I didn’t hit a stoplight until we were only a few miles from home. By then it was dark, but at the stoplight I could see something black fluttering in the windshield wiper.

“What’s that? Is that a leaf?” Just as I was wondering how a leaf managed to hang on through 3 hours of mostly 50 to 70 mile an hour traveling, an entire body emerged from the hole surrounding the windshield wiper where it attaches to the car.

“That’s a mouse!”

He/she stared at us with big scared eyes like it’s our fault he/she crawled into my car and didn’t have the sense to jump out before we left the parking lot.

The light turned and as I gently pressed the accelerator, the terrified mouse darted to to the edge of the car on the passenger side and lept off.

“He’s on the sidewalk and heading for that manhole!” My friend reported it, as if we were cops tracking a fleeing suspect.

We barely had time to exclaim how crazy that was, when mouse #2 emerged from the same hole. Apparently looking for his/her buddy. He/she was also now staring directly at us while clinging to the windshield wiper. I was trying not to run off the road, and as my attention shifted he/she disappeared.

“I think he jumped off the side too,” I said.

We felt bad for them both. They were actual, literal country mice landing in the city. That one running for the manhole? He/she didn’t have a chance. If a nasty city mouse or rat didn’t get him, surely a bird or take out gone bad would. We were still kind of haunted by their big, terrified eyes.

We unloaded the boat at my friend’s house, and I headed home. It was late, and I had to park a ways from my house. My arms were full, so I left the lifejacket and the tarp in the trunk to get the next day. About mid afternoon, I went back to the car to get them. I realized I had also left a travel mug in the car, so I unlocked it, opened the door, and leaned inside.

That’s when saw them.

I keep little bags of nuts in the car because I can get hungry suddenly, and you don’t want to encounter me when I’m hangry. I also bring them on trips and leave whatever is left. You know, in case I suddenly get hungry. So I probably had 3 or 4 little bags of nuts tucked in various nooks in the car.

Had, being the key word. There were the remains of nuts scattered all over the floor in the front, and a plastic bag with a nibbled hole in it on the driver’s seat. The resulting poops were also present.

In 5 seconds, I went from, “Oh, poor country mice” to “Die you damn rodent!”

I started a methodical search for nut rubble and poops. They were in the glove compartment and the compartment between the seats that has a latched lid. How the hell had he/she gotten in there? I continued the grim search to the backseat. More nut rubble and poops. That fucking mouse bastard.

The kid and I were heading to the Cape the next day, so I Googled “mice in your car.” Most of it was advice about how to prevent it. No shit, Sherlock. If I could have prevented a little curious country bumpkin bastard from hitching 150 miles, don’t you think I would have? I stopped reading when the article started talking about chewed wires. I cleaned the car and removed the remaining emergency nut stash. If I expire from sudden hunger, please send the police after that little bastid.

The next morning, I approached the car with my suitcases, and really hoping I wouldn’t encounter mouse #2’s trespass, the Lord’s prayer be damned. It looked clear and clean. Phew. I loaded the car and included two extra items that usually aren’t on vacation list: 2 mouse traps. The second to last thing I want to do is trap and kill a mouse in my car on vacation. But the very last thing I want to do is have a little bastid in there in the first place.

This was war.

We got to the Cape late, and the next day, I checked the car. If I found poop, I was going to set both traps. At least peanut butter would most likely work on a country mouse who had probably had nothing but grass seeds and whatever else is good eating in a field. The websites love to tout peanut butter as irresistible, but in my experience, city mice have much picker palettes. Like the mice I had in my apartment a few years ago.

I checked the car, and nothing. By day 2, I figured we were in the clear and the mouse traps stayed packed. I don’t know if the little bastid disembarked at my house or after the 100 plus mile ride to the Cape, but he was gone.

I was back on the Saco River for Labor Day weekend, and this time I made sure to bang on the car all around before we left. For good measure, I shouted “No hitchhiking bastids to Boston!” I know, I’m such an animal.


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