I wouldn’t say we live in the country exactly; we have a house that was built in the mid-nineties in a subdivision right next to the subdivision where everyone wants to live. But if I look out my kitchen window, there’s a cornfield. A farmhouse. Tractors. Out my living room window are a cul-de-sac, other brick façaded houses, even a man-made lake. From the front of my house, I can almost pretend I’m back in the suburbia of Chicagoland, where I grew up. But the back of the house and the cornfield…there’s no denying that.
In the suburbs, we had a big old house with lots of dark, foreboding woodwork. The kitchen floor creaked, the stairs groaned, and the finish on the floors was so outdated it’s almost back in style. And every winter, the mice came to live with us. Any food left out in the evening, any speck or crumb or suspicious looking pile of dust, would have a few (or more) bite marks in it the following morning. One year for Valentine’s Day, my then-boyfriend gave me a chocolate rose wrapped in foil. I made the mistake of leaving it out on my dresser, and in the morning the foil had been chewed through, the chocolate gone.
Our little suburban mice, while leaving their evidence all over the house, never showed themselves. Occasionally we’d hear a squeak or a scratch, but overall I had no idea what these greedy little pink-tailed vermin looked like until I saw one of them dead in the dozens of traps my dad would set out.
It’s different here. The mice aren’t scared, or they aren’t experienced enough to know to stay out of the way. Our house is newer, sure, and maybe they have fewer places to hide. But it seems as the winter draws itself in and the ground turns colder, the mice slowly migrate inside. We see them running in the yard occasionally, and the boys even caught one this summer (which terrified me monumentally. I couldn’t go outside for a week).
I went to work one night and the next morning heard a story of the brave mouse that ran inside through the open garage door, slid under the washing machine, then ran to the kitchen where he scaled the oven and emerged triumphantly in the breadbox, where he was caught and promptly killed by my husband and oldest son.
Mice on the countertops is a new thing for me. As in, it freaks me the fuck out. I can barely stand to let my husband share my food-prep space, never mind a mouse and its many siblings and cousins and babies. When I found mouse poop while putting the dishes away yesterday morning I immediately reported it to Chris, who set a glue trap out on the counter. So imagine my surprise and horror when I came downstairs to make pancakes this morning and there was a fat gray mouse, munching happily away on the blob of peanut butter Chris had strategically placed in the center of the trap. I screamed and ran and hid while Chris and CJ took care of the thing, and I didn’t go in the kitchen for the rest of the morning.
As a result, everything was thrown off. The pancakes were rubbery, the coffee burnt. Our traditional Sunday morning pancake breakfast had lost its luster, and my excitement for a day with absolutely nothing on the calendar was gone right along with it. All I want to do now is hide in my bed and watch HGTV and hope no mice find it in themselves to come nibble on the bath bombs in my en suite.