Saturday morning I get up, yawn my way down to the living room to play yoga on the Wii* and notice that the trap looks a bit odd.

This is the Kness TipTrap I’m talking about, I got it as part of my eviction plans for Nate, and it’s been lying in wait for the furry little nuisance for a solid week, untouched. But now the trap’s a bit off-kilter and the door is down…

OMG!!!!! I CAUGHT NATE!!!!!!!!

The big question: What do I with him? Should I drive him out to the country? Or is Nate more of an urban field mouse who would prefer infesting something friendlier, like my former employer’s place which is already overrun with mice who’d probably be thrilled to get a new playmate? (I once moved into an office there with so many mouse droppings in the drawers that I thought at first they were lined with rubber mats. Not kidding.)

While I’m debating, my brother-in-law drops off my nephew (he’s finally here to plant my fall bulbs. Don’t ask.) and I show him the trap.

“You actually CAUGHT a mouse with that thing?” Jerald says, incredulous, then, “I can take care of him for you,” and he reaches for the trap.

Jerald grew up farming and hunting, and his attitude toward rodents usually involves D-Con and a pair of heavy boots. He is as kind, honest and generous as the day is long, but I have a sneaking suspicion that “taking care of Nate” does NOT mean buying him breakfast.

“DON’T TOUCH THE TRAP!” I shriek, and Jerald gives me that “Oh yeah, I forgot for a sec that I married into a crazy family” look. I explain that I’m planning to set Nate free somewhere in the wilderness and there’s no point in upsetting him unnecessarily.

“You. Don’t. Want. To. Upset. The. Mouse,” he says slowly, “The mouse you caught. In that trap. Promise me something: DO NOT give Nate mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, OK?”


“Well, I saw this TV show, ‘Thousands of Ways You Can Die a Horrible Death,’ and there was this woman giving mouth-to-mouth to a badger that had been hit by a car.”

“Ugh,” I shuddered, “So the badger woke up and ate her face off?”

“No, she was smack-dab in the middle of the road and a truck came along and creamed her,” he replies.

Illuminating but as Nate disposal ideas go, not very helpful. I promise that my lips will never touch Nate’s, and Jerald leaves, shaking his head.

I contemplate buying Nate a hamster cage and possibly setting him up as a pet but really, would he be all that happy looking out at his old demesnes from behind bars? Is a whirly wheel really going to replace racing around my living room?

Nope. He can’t stay in the living room, I don’t want him in the kitchen. I don’t really want him, period.

I decide that I’ll take him to work with me Monday morning. There’s a meadow across from my office, full of trees and brush and wheat and oats, with a little brook winding through one side. It’s probably about as close to mouse heaven as you could get, and it’s also about 20 miles from my living room.

If Nate can successfully negotiate I-5, ORE 217 and hike 20 miles to get back to my house, well, he can HAVE the living room.

I consider putting a little extra food and water in with Nate to keep him fed until Monday, but I can’t figure out how to open the trap without also letting out the mouse. This is the mouse that’s eaten three dozen hazelnuts in six weeks, though, so he can’t be all THAT hungry, right? I figure he can last 48 hours.

And that’s that. My mouse problems are solved.

So this morning I get up, shower, dress and come downstairs. I get a piece of cheese from the kitchen to help Nate make the stressful transition from homeowner to wilderness pioneer, and pick up the trap.

It’s curiously light so, giving into temptation, I shake it a bit.

Not a sound. What if Nate’s died of starvation in there? OMG. I didn’t mean to torture the poor thing to death. I feel like, well, a mouse-killer.

I start to open the trap, pause to consider, and take the whole thing out onto the front porch–if he’s still alive in there, no sense in accidentally releasing him back into the living room after all this fuss. I carefully pry open the trap door, shake it a bit. Empty. Seems that Nate’s sprung the trap without getting caught.

Dammit, Nate.

So I dunno. Maybe I need cheaper peanut butter. Maybe raisins will do the trick. Maybe it’s time to borrow a cat.

As I’m pondering, there’s a sound of scrabbling from the living room fireplace and a shower of ash flows onto the hearth. Something’s gotten stuck in the flue, probably a bird or a squirrel.

And at that point I’ve had about 125 percent of my maximum daily allowance of wilderness. Whatever’s in the chimney can wait until I’m damn good and ready for it.

Disgusted, I stomp off to work.

(where I discover what was in the chimney, but more about that later)

*There is a special hell reserved for people who give cutesy double entendre names to stuff. Did they consider, for example, the implications of saying “I’m playing with my Wii” in, oh, Great Britain?