I was out in the SUV. It needed to be taken for a drive (or I did in any case). I decided to go camping and loaded the van with gear. I pack pretty well having done this a dozen times. It is like second nature. I get to my destination, ready to breathe some fresh air and cast my weary eyes on some memorable scenery. I am accommodated most of the time. I know where to go and it is like clockwork. What isn’t is finding surprise critters when I unpack.
There was a mouse in the house. Eek! Yes, a mouse in my stuff. I want to get rid of this mouse instantly. I suppose he was sleeping soundly during the voyage and woke up just in time to greet me upon parking in the campsite lot. He probably stirred because he was hungry and didn’t have the skills to open my tightly-packed vittles. He looked at me beseechingly.
Nope. I wasn’t going to let this creature survive. But pest control in the wilderness seems barbaric and inhumane. You feel like everything out there is a natural habitat and should be protected. But he was different. He was hiding in my cargo, a stowaway of the worst kind. Mice are unsanitary in case this has not occurred to you. They are not cute little furry pets to coddle and feed. They don’t need a long life to serve any purpose to mankind. Well, I suppose they do eat insects, but that’s another story…
Back to pest control. I thought I would create a kind of makeshift version of a trap and snatch his little body from my presence. I looked in my backpack for a morsel of cheese. Not there. This is not something I readily carry around. I looked for a substitute and found a bit of deli meat. That would have to do. I placed it in a hiking boot. I figured the shoe would be long enough to capture him and keep him inside if I folded over the top. I got everything ready. I was alert.
The mouse sensed something amiss and started to scurry about the back storage area looking for an exit. I quickly slammed the hatch shut. He was my prey and he was a goner. He scurried some more and finally found a crevasse in which to crawl. I couldn’t reach him. I was fighting the mouse and he was winning for sure.
This little game of hide and seek went on for some time before I got really exasperated. He was out of my gear and more or less in the open, so he was less of a threat overall. Yes, he had tarnished almost every inch of the car with his existence, and it was going to be time to fumigate when I got home, lest he had deposited any little telltale droppings.
A frustrated half hour later, I got an idea. It was not a brainstorm, mind you, but a final act of aggression. I opened the door to the van in the hopes that the intruder would hop out and be gone. Forget pest control. Let’s just have pest departure. I waited. He waited. It was a Mexican standoff. Finally, I took a stick and touched him on the back, gently of course. I don’t want to offend any of you environmentalists. He reacted and soon was trotting about on the ground outside the vehicle.
I was thrilled. It had been an exhausting interplay and I was ready to move on to the campgrounds and get set up for the night. I did so at my leisure. When I returned to the SUV for a final load of food to grill over a nice open fire, there he was—waiting for me in all his brown-textured glory. I tossed him the deli meat from the boot and I swear I could see him smile.