At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.
I would catch small flickers of motion in my peripheral vision but when I turned to look, there was nothing there.
And my ears started picking up on little pockets of noise, light and easy to tune out, like branches rubbing against the house.
Maybe the kids were right, the house was haunted after all, or worse yet, my years were overtaking me.
Then I saw him (or her) — a dark little specter trucking it top speed from under my bed to the bathroom.
And I, in my fuzzy socks, followed, only to find nothing but the usual teen-abandoned soggy towel, odd sock and empty shampoo bottle on the floor, chucked haphazardly from the shower in the general direction of the trash, no doubt.
It was an epiphany of sorts and almost like lowering the squelch in my brain, I felt myself opening my eyes and ears to a new level of activity within my house — like finding out somebody collects something and all of a sudden you see purple polka-dotted widgets everywhere you go.
Only for me it was scrambling, scratching, rustling and darting two-ounce shadows in the bathroom, kitchen, hallway, bedrooms and garage.
And I quickly, realized it was, unfortunately, not just one uber-fast, omnipresent mouse.
Now Polly-homemaker I am not, and things aren’t always as tidy as I might prefer, but I have never in my life, had a mouse in the house, leading me to deduce it couldn’t be all my fault, or for that matter, my chip-squirreling, cookie hoarding teens.
Mapping out events leading up to the squatter invasion, I realized it was suspiciously timed with my neighbor baling his field across the road, which incidentally took place at the change of season. Ah, country living…
Like some Secret of NIMH nightmare, my house has become Switzerland, Ellis Island — a mousy sanctuary for the cold, tired and oppressed.
That puts me in quite the predicament.
What if I were a downtrodden mouse just looking to survive? I too would want somewhere warm and safe to go.
The 2010 summer toad invasion was altogether different.
Though we were at odds, we were teammates of sorts — They didn’t want to be in the house anymore than I wanted them there — all we had to do was overcome their, for lack of a better word, stupidity.
But when it comes to the mice, we have inherently opposing positions on this thing.
One quick read about the Hantavirus, a couple discoveries of their “leavings” and I knew I had to grit my teeth, be a big girl and take a hard line on this one.
But a survey of my options didn’t go far toward my resolve.
Imagining a little refugee glued to a strip, starving while her babies wait in the nest for food that’s never going to come makes me fear for my karma.
Violent convulsions and a poison induced coma that ends with a decomposing mouse inside a hidden nook is also unappealing and knowing that with my luck it would be my toes and fingers being snapped in traps while mice laugh from a safe distance just won’t do either.
And web reviews on non-lethal traps give the impression my money would be better spent just giving them my kitchen and going out to eat every night.
I arrived at a combined approach that, while imperfect, appears to be working out fairly well until the ultimate solution is found.
We have begun hosting “kitty time,” strategically releasing cats into problem areas.
Since nature did designate them as the antithesis, the mouse-antidote, if you will, this seems to technically be the most eco-sensitive, “au-natural” approach. The best part, I am technically not the killer and the cats get exercise.
The first couple times, it was like shooting fish in a barrel, the kids cheering as victorious kitty was patted on the head.
Strategy two was stumbled on accidentally — It turns out the kids are pretty good mousers too.
A little less graceful than cats, they haven’t done too bad if I must say so myself, and unlike the cats, I can send them back across the road with a mouse in a sock, which — howdy neighbor — just makes me feel better somehow.
After all, there is rarely a perfect answer to any conflict, and as Bill Waterson said through the mouth of his precocious Calvin, “A good compromise leaves everybody mad.”