Forgiving the Mouse

January 19, 2009

The little bastard looked right peaceful, smooth slate-gray fur, tiny ears, soft as velvet, his eyes closed. He was curled up in a crouch, there on top of the mysterious box of wires that told the furnace what to do and when.

Notice the past tense of the verb “to tell.”

He was dead as a box of rocks.

Long ago I did some reading about modern scientific thinking and theories and all that. Most of it was way over my head. I remember feeling something like vertigo when I tried to wrap my mind around what they call quantum physics, which is complicated enough that one scientist said “anybody who says they understand quantum physics doesn’t understand quantum physics.”

Anyway, one of the things I read had to do with the interconnectedness of things, and the consequences thereof. It went something like: “a butterfly fanning its wings in this country sets off a chain of events that results in a typhoon in Burma,” or words to that effect.

Being a simple soul, my first thought was, “damn. Musta been one BIG butterfly.”

Did I mention that I didn’t do all that well in the part of science that required logical thinking?

Well, the late field mouse on the box has a lot to answer for.

Don’t get me wrong. I confess that I rather like rodents. I once lived in a mobile home set on the edge of a cornfield in a windy valley, a place where the winter winds would sometimes pluck bits and pieces off the structure, never to be seen again. Sometimes the wind twisted the trailer enough that the hanging lamps would sway.

My only company was my cat, Phyllis Killer, and any number of field mice who would risk Phyllis’ appetite and prowess to come in from the corn for a little warmth and food.

I was not a very good housekeeper. At night, sitting at the table writing, I would watch as the little fellas would slip out of hiding and nibble on macaroni noodles I had left on the counter during one of my minimalist post-dinner cleanups.
They (the mice, not the macaroni) would sit upright, nibbling away and watching me with their bright little button eyes.

But, back to the rodent curled in state atop the box next to the furnace.

He was dead because he had been chewing on things. Rodents do that because their front teeth never stop growing, and they have to chew constantly so that the incisors will not grow overlong to the point that they do not allow the critter to eat.

Everything went fine for the little guy until he started chewing on one of the wires coming out of the box. His teeth met on the 24-volt copper wire. It arced and popped apart and the mouse died. Think of that butterfly, flapping up a typhoon in Burma.

The wire ran from the control box through the walls to the vacant upstairs apartment in the old farmhouse. The thermostat, set as low as it would go to keep pipes from freezing, was no longer able to send instructions to the furnace.

The temperatures plummeted the single digits. The pipes in the baseboard heaters froze, and one burst. Then, Sunday, the temperatures climbed above freezing. The pipes thawed. Hot water, pushed by the pumps elsewhere in the system, spread out over the floor, steaming in the frigid air. The smoke detectors identified the steam as smoke and signaled the alarm company that the 200-year-old farmhouse was on fire. By the time we got there, three fire trucks had arrived, and a small tribe of volunteer firefighters.

The firefighters made sure there was nothing actually on fire and left us to our chores. A couple hours of wet-vac and mopping – and a visit from the plumber – later, and the place was in a condition where the only thing to do was keep the heat on and fans running and hope not too much of the flooring or ceiling would have to be replaced.

And, of course, put out some tempting, tasty poison in the furnace room.

Sorry fellas.

© 2009 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.
“Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
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5 Responses to “Forgiving the Mouse”

  1. Michael said

    Yet mice are always so cute in their anthropormorphic forms…

  2. Terry,
    it is so great to have your voive back in head..thanks…bw

  3. voive..voice, verve, vivre….uh…

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