When Nature Comes Inside


Yesterday, when my husband and I returned to our ski area apartment, the first thing I did was peel back the sheets on the bed. I always do this. Especially this time of year, when we spend only a few nights a week up here, and the mice start to find warm places to hide when the temperature drops.

Sure enough, right underneath my pillow, between the soft folds of yellow flannel, sat a pile of bright blue de-con beads. Rat poison.

Inside their tiny mice brains, they must be thinking aha! I’ve found a stash of those tasty blue nuggets. Now what I must do is hoard them. I must hide them in this warm, soft place where no one can find them.

Then they go outside and die.

I can handle mice scurrying outside. Walking through a spider web on a fall day, seeing fresh cougar tracks, even a porcupine holed up on our porch, these are all okay. But knowing that a mouse has been in my bed?  Eek.

Not that I haven’t been intimate with mice. I have. Once, on a six week mountaineering trip, while trying to sleep at high altitude under a floorless tent, a mouse wanted to nest in my hair. And I was oddly okay with it. Or perhaps I was just too tired to care. All night, I felt the persistent scratching at the ends of my locks poking out from my hat. And, amazingly, I let it lull me back to sleep.

But inside my house, my domicile, my bed–that’s another thing altogether.

I shriek. I spasm. My hands flutter about my face like a Victorian spinster or a Southern belle. I can’t help it. I try. I really do.

Last night was no different. While my husband methodically reached for the vacuum cleaner, I gyrated about the house, a ripple of disgust flowing through me like an electric current. A little voice in my head told me to calm down. It really wasn’t that bad.

John reminded me it was a field mouse. A small, almost cuddly, thing. It was just doing its best to stay alive.

Yeah, well, he shouldn’t have gone for the de-con then.

A fresh set of sheets and a thorough cleaning later, I finally slipped into the bed and tried not to think about mice. I cleared my throat repeatedly, thinking my voice might scare away any tiny intruders. A scratching noise filtered in from the kitchen, and I pulled the sheets to my chin. I wasn’t letting them inside my bed. After a few minutes, I recognized the sound. It was the dishwasher running through the rinse cycle.

Jeez.  Some people can be so jumpy.

4 responses »

  1. Isn’t it funny how much more accommodating we are when we’re in an animals home (i.e., a tent in the outdoors), but inside our walls, it’s unfathomable? I encountered lots of geckos in our apt on Kaua’i (one almost falling on my while showering) and I’d startle and kinda freak out. But not mind a bit if one were to scurry over my feet outside.

  2. I agree with your squeamishness about mice in the bed 100%. The only thing worse for me is spiders — I’m always checking in my slippers and sweatshirts, anything that hasn’t been worn in a while, to make sure there are no spiders hiding inside.

  3. Pingback: Crying Like a Girl with a Skinned Knee: Why stoicism isn’t all its cracked up to be « Kim Kircher

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