A Mouse Story

 

Two weeks ago our cat came into the living room and dropped a grey mouse at my feet. It scurried away, barely hurt, and I’ve been wondering when it would turn up again. Well, two nights ago, we found it.

The cats were running excitedly from one piece of furniture to another, sniffing and peeking, and Robert finally realized what it meant. At last the critter (based on the cats’ actions) retreated into the base support of an armchair (one that Margaret had given us, actually), and was crouching in a place where it could not be reached by the cats. This was our chance to rescue it and get it out of the house at the same time.

Robert turned the chair upside down and I could see just a sliver of the tiny thing’s face – it might even have been a young mouse, it was so small, frozen in place with no intention of coming out. Robert began trying to reach it, with no success, and then to drive it out to where I was waiting to catch it. But it would not be herded in the right direction, moving ever further out of sight. Finally Rob reached out to it with his drum stick, and for some reason the tiny creature was inspired to catch onto the bulge of the drum stick with its little paws and crawl on. Robert lifted it, and dropped it into the pitcher I had waiting. Then we covered the pitcher, leaving the poor thing in the pitch dark with a bit of moisture on the bottom (the pitcher was one we use for our fountains).

Then Robert gathered some pumpkin seeds in a cup lid, and we got in the car. I have to be honest – Robert believed in this process, whereas I was dragging my feet, wanting to just dump it in the front yard (“Why are we going out at this hour, again?”). But we drove the very short distance to our local open space, which is on a hilltop near our home, and put the seeds in their lid under a tree, where hopefully the mouse would not be seen by predators.

The mouse did not want to come out of the pitcher any more than he had wanted to come out of the chair. At length I had to dump him upside down, and the way he fell, he was either frozen in fear or had fainted away – completely motionless. What he had been through! Chased by cats for weeks in a strange house, then hounded by giants, and at last captured and carried away in the dark and cold and wet!

What the mouse could not know – and we could not tell it – was that we only wanted to help it. We brought it away from an unsafe, hostile environment to a natural place, with food and a tree with many fallen leaves to hide in, and others of its tribe nearby. There was no way to explain to the mouse that it would be much better off at the end of this frightening and dramatic process. I often wonder what he thought when he came to, and how long it took him to appreciate his new situation.

I could not help thinking how much we humans are like that mouse, when change comes crashing into our lives. It often looks like danger and bad luck, sudden and horrible. There are too many variables that we can’t understand and can’t control. It is as if the Universe reaches out, plucks us from somewhere comfortable, and puts us in a new place we didn’t ask for and don’t understand at all! How long does it take us to realize we are better off, and have been given a new opportunity to thrive? If we just assumed, going in, that the Universe was benevolent, how much easier would it be?