Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Great Invasion of Summer 2012

I live in the woods.

My almost 1900 square foot townhouse is actually built into the mountains. My entire lower level is actually underground.

I have a view of the most amazing trees, even with this drought, I can look out my wall of balcony windows and see the sun peaking through the tree tops, hear and see the birds chirping, watch the squirrel race and play.

The woods in this suburb are my home.  Beautiful. Peaceful. Serene.

And invaded!

It is a little cooler right now than it was a month ago when THE INVASION started.

One hot, hot July afternoon, the kids and I had just returned home and were chatting away about what quick thing we could make for dinner.  We came up stairs to our open floor plan living space, when suddenly, something raced along the all and jetted under the stove.  I dropped my packages and practically did a back tackle on my son.

"What was THAT??!!"

"I think it was a mouse," replied my son, through spurts of doubled over laughter because of my reaction.

"Don't kill it!" screamed my environmentalist daughter who has been begging for a "pet" for two years.

"Where did it go?" inquired my youngest and practical daughter.

"Ok, that's it, I'm so done, we are not eating here today.  MAINTENANCE!" I screamed, grabbed my computer, put in an order for our maintenance crew to come and get rid of this uninvited guest, one of the perks of living in this townhouse community is an on-site staff, well, they are going to earn their keep today.

The young exterminator came and pulled out the stove, put the traps in a little box and placed one there and one behind the refrigerator, all while blowing out my electricity at it.  "This should do it, ma'am. Mice are curious, they will come here and oh, they probably crawled up this hole right here behind your stove."

"They? What do you mean, they?" I was undone, and without electricity for the day until the electrician could come later that day to restore the power that this young upstart blew out.  It was during those 105-degree St. Louis heat waves, the high heat-index, and we had NO AIR.

Clearly not happy that a little mouse decided to take up residence in my townhouse.

The electrician/maintenance guy came and sealed up the hole.  "You probably have more."  He proceeded to look for holes inside and outside, using some kind of sealant that looked like goopy play dough in a can.  "They can't chew through this and if they try, it will just kill them because it tastes nasty."

"Oh, ok," I replied, still completely grossed out and thinking I need to throw away everything in my house. I  didn't, just sterilized it and glad that there were no "signs" of them in my cubbards.

A week passed, the exterminator came back, and picked up the mouse trap behind the refrigerator.

"Ma'am, we got 'em, there are two in here." He leaves another trap and tells me that actually, they have been "racing between the six of you."  He motioned up and down the street where our townhouses are connected.

The next day, again, a super hot day, I see a little mouse peak it's head out of a hole in the concrete outside my townhouse.  I was standing on the patio, about the get the mail when it peaked it's head out, went back in, and decided to take it's first tentative steps out into the world.  I grabbed a brick, the first thing I could see outside and waited.

It was about to race from my townhouse patio to the neighbor's townhouse patio when I dropped the brick on it.

I know, environmentalists are going to say that was cruel and unusual punishment for the tiny little thing, it was barely two inches.  I say, it never should have come into my house.

Again, I called the maintenance crew and made them come and seal up this forgotten outside hole and then we walked all six townhouses and he said, "oh, there are holes here, and here, and here." He had his spray goop in his hands.

I lived in Michigan, I lived in Iowa, I lived near Kansas, and I live in Missouri.  I expect to see a mouse in the dead of winter, having seen one while in grad school, again in a townhouse, and my sons on the race to get rid of the invader.  I expect that in the deep cold winter in the woods that perhaps it wants to take shelter in my garage or something, ok, I get that.  The mansions on Agronne have mice, the White House has mice, the little critters can squish themselves through a hole the size of a pencil, they are non discriminatory and no matter how much you clean and clean, they still decide that your house is just cozy enough to live in.

Well, I'm not having it.

The cute little story of The Library Mouse and If You Give A Mouse A Cookie were great to read to my children and each illustration showed little mouse holes where the curious little critters burrowed.

In a story, fine, in the woods fine, in the field, fine...BUT.NOT.IN.MY.HOUSE.

My kids think it is funny and actually, I haven't seen one since that day.  It was a pregnant mouse looking for a nest to drop her litter, now the litter has had a summer playground exploring the hidden places that connect townhouse-to-townhouse.

School is about to start, my son is about to go off to college, and I won't have a resident mouse catcher anymore.

The maintenance crew is great, another perk of these condo/townhouse places with on-site staff.  I call and so do my neighbors.  I just saw the exterminator truck go down my street.  They are on the mission to calm the squeals, screams, and squimishness of my neighbors and I, well, except for the dad to my left who calmly told his kids, "it is more scared of you than you are of it," and went back inside, leaving the kids playing on the balcony and peaking at the little hole.  That's easy for you to say, I thought to myself, he is a guy, he is big enough to just step on it.

It is the winding days of summer, my kids stretching out their last bit of summer break, my son leaving for college in two days.  Perhaps the little mouse is trying to tell us something.

I live in the woods.  I am surrounded by trees.  I hear the birds chirping outside my balcony windows.  I do not hear cars or have the noise of crowds.  I see the squirrel playing on the trees.  I see the sun peaking through a clear blue sky.  My home is built on a mountain, my entire lower level is inside the mountain, it is part of what gives this area such eye appeal, all the townhouses are built up and up into the mountains.  All of us have trees and trees outside our windows.

Perhaps the little invader is trying to tell me something.  Just as I think that they have invaded my space, perhaps I have invaded their's.  

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