Monday, May 19, 2008

Of mice and me...and columbines

Within just a few short hours early this morning, I managed to maim one living creature and rescue another, except that I'm not entirely responsible for the maiming, and "rescue" might not be quite the right word but I hesitate to use a more accurate one like "purloin." Right now, my relationship with nature is about as complicated as nature itself.

The maiming occurred in the wee hours of the morning, when I was awakened by what sounded like a bunch of marbles being shaken around in a jar. On investigating, I discovered a mousetrap flailing its way across the wood floor, with locomotion provided by a mouse, three of whose legs were free from the trap while the fourth one was firmly attached.

The cat just watched, lifting nary a paw to interfere with the mouse-laden mousetrap's uneven progress across the living-room floor. The mouse was heading for the gap behind a bookcase when I went to awaken my husband. Mice living or dead fall within his bailiwick, so I had no compunction about interfering with his sound sleep to inform him that a mousetrap was raising a ruckus in the living room. "It's just a bad dream," he insisted. "Go back to sleep."

It took me a while to convince him that I wasn't raving, and by then the mouse and mousetrap had made its way under that bookcase. The intrepid mouse-hunter didn't want to move the bookcase in the middle of the night, so he went back to bed, leaving the mouse to suffer until daylight. "It's pretty well stuck in there," he said. "I'll deal with it in the morning."

In the morning it was gone. The mousetrap was still there, but every trace of mouse had disappeared. Somewhere out there lives a mouse that is maimed and angry--a mouse, moreover, that has learned to be wary of mousetraps. What kind of revenge will it inflict upon my household?

I didn't have much time to think about that because the time had come to execute the Great Columbine Rescue. Ohio has only one native columbine, Aquilegia canadensis, which produces delicate yellow-and-orange bell-shaped blooms in spring. A clump of it grows in just one spot on the steep slope beside our creek, which would be terrific if it grew on our side of the creek, but instead it grows on the other side near the road, where it thrives beautifully until the county road crew comes along to do its annual spring mowing. According to the local newspaper, mowing begins today.

Now I have domesticated columbines growing near the house, but I've never seen anything as tall and lovely as these wild blossoms. Wouldn't it be a shame to let the mowers cut them down in the prime of life? Someone ought to rescue some of them. This is what I told myself as I carried a bucket and shovel to the wild columbines' location, which was steeper and slipperier than I had expected. I was delighted to discover that the columbines were growing in rocky soil, which means they'll feel right at home in the flower garden in front of our house. I had to fight my way through poison ivy to get the shovel into the ground, but I got my columbine.

Of course it is not really "my" columbine. I suppose it's probably against the law to dig up wildflowers from the public right-of-way, which is why I choose to employ the rhetoric of rescue. If nature wants to fight back against my depredations, the poison ivy ought to do the trick.

And if not, the maimed mouse is still out there somewhere waiting to take its revenge.

1 comment:

Joy said...

I think your mouse made it to my house. By the looks of my select areas of my kitchen, you scared the scat right out of it!