The first week of September, the mice fled the fields and snuck indoors, as mice are wont to do.
It happened in the quiet hours of one night.
The day before, the kitchen drawers and cupboards were spotless. The next, they were festooned with rodential calling cards: the kind a not-so-observant eye might mistake for a dusting of flax or caraway seed.
I say mice, but it was almost certainly a single mouse. A mother-to-be at that: a poor, lone soul finding herself in the family way without benefit of clergy.
You ask how I know this. Well, you don’t, but I’ll tell you anyway.
Within the span of a few hours, she had scratched and nibbled her way through a brand-new tea towel. Not just an ordinary tea towel, but the expensive waffle-woven kind you pay a ransom for at one of those fancy kitchen boutiques.
The Sherlock Holmes in me immediately deduced: if you are a mouse, you do not scavenge feverously for bright red cotton thread, unless you’re intent on building a nest. And you don’t build a nest unless you have mouse-lings aboard.
Furthermore, fathers-to-be of the mouse kingdom generally do not build nests. They may stake out territory, and show signs of protectiveness toward their concubines, but at the bottom line they are deadbeat dads, not known for monogamy.
Building nests is definitely beneath them.
I further deduced that our furry night visitor was eating for more than one, by her choice of post-midnight snacks.
She completely ignored my wife’s unprotected single-serving pouches of instant oatmeal, which might have given her offspring a healthy start in life. Instead, she opted to nibble on all things silicon.
The collapsible pasta bowl was rendered useless, as were the silicon seals on the lids of several glass storage containers.
Deduction? Silicon is to a gestating mouse what pickles and ice cream are to a gravid human. She wants it, and she wants it now!
Naturally, the discovery of an unbidden house guest immediately summoned us both to our battle stations. There will be no bubonic plague in this house. Not on our watch.
While one of us meticulously cleansed every shelf and drawer, and their contents, the other made a hasty trip to the hardware store for various rodent eliminators and dissuaders.
We are not insensitive louts who believe a mouse should suffer death by dehydration, or having her wee paws trapped in glue. We went for quick kill, combined with smelly essential oils that would announce: No Vermin Welcome Here.
Weeks later, no trap has yet been sprung, nary a towel has been nibbled, and no fresh turds have emerged.
Best of all, the rosemary oil drenching both kitchen and pantry has improved my memory exponentially.