Yesterday I found myself at the checkout counter of Nelson’s Hardware, my local Vermont go-to place for everything remotely hardware’ish. I put my handful of mousetraps on the counter and said: “It’s cold out … we have a mouse problem this winter.” The nice checkout lady’s reply was a truly serious note about the fact that in her twenty-five years at the store, she had never seen a winter when they had sold so many ‘mouse problem’ products, as this winter. “I wonder why that is” I thought, probably aloud. “Mice try to get into your house when it’s cold, and it’s cold here in Vermont EVERY winter.”
This short conversation took place after I had spent ten- or fifteen-minutes staring at the store’s extensive rodent-elimination product section. You know, years ago you pretty much had a choice when buying a mouse trap, between purchasing one little flat piece of wood with a spring and a finger-slamming metal bar cheaply stapled to it, and another little flat piece of wood with a spring and another finger-slamming metal bar cheaply stapled to it.
Not so in the winter of 2021. These days your house mouse has a choice of being slammed by a bar, trapped alive, stuck to a sticky glue trap, poisoned, given a headache by a super high tech ultrasonic scare-your-mouse-away device, or perhaps, if he is lucky, getting away and living to scurry around your house another day.
Or, perhaps more precisely, YOU have a choice. At least you do at Nelson’s Hardware (I love that place). By the way, you can buy most of these devious little devices in many and various versions, and in multi-packs, too, just in case your rodents have brought aunts, uncles, and cousins with them to live at your house for the winter.
You know, when I was in that mousetrap department of Nelson’s Hardware, I was about to go with the live trap idea, but I eventually didn’t see any animal-loving advantage in putting a live mouse outside in a snowbank someplace, at a brisk Vermont zero degrees. I didn’t want to welcome the mouse family to live with us, but also didn’t think my neighbor would appreciate it if I had dropped a shivering mouse off outside of their house, either.
Sometimes, just the fact that we are WHO we are, and are that person WHEN we are and WHERE we are sort of astonishes me. I actually thought this as I was placing a seemingly benign but somehow menacingly fatal mouse glue trap under our kitchen stove the other night before going to bed. There had been obvious mouse ‘signs’ under the stove, including food bits, dog food chunks, and other less mentionable pieces of matter found there. So, there is where I put the trap. (Go where the traffic is, I always say. No, I don’t actually ever say that.)
Another thing I thought of as I placed that trap, and it was a thought that astonished me at the time, was that our big old house was not just big and old but had been built way back in 1905. Think of that, (Come on. You can do it if I can do it while placing a mousetrap.) The house was built only two years after the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk. It was already almost 25 years old on the day my now 96-year-old mother was born.
I then realized I was on my knees, before the stove, in a futile attempt, to say the least. I was, almost laughingly, safe, and sure in the realization that the winter of 1905 was at least as cold and windy as this one of 2021, and that the winter-mouse families of that year were at least as warm and cozy in this old place as they are now. I then wondered how many owners of this old place had been on their knees, in this exact spot, attempting to rid the house of such a relentless and uninvited occupant that resided under their stove.
With all the nearly miraculous technological advances of our age, some things will be changed. Great things will be invented, huge mountains will be scaled and even the planets will be explored. Still, some things will never change. Someone will always be trying to build a better mousetrap. If you don’t believe me, just check out Nelson’s Hardware.