Monday, October 7, 2013

My deer mouse

I had a mouse, once...

A genuine image of Stewart
Actually, it was a couple years ago, now, back when I still volunteered at the vet's office. I started fainting and that put an end to it...anyway, the vet gave me a half drowned mouse that someone had brought in. He was a very little mouse and we named him Stewart. He was only a baby, but he grew fast. I looked him up and discovered that he was a deer mouse, which prompted this very peculiar and rather embarrassing letter that I wrote to him sometime after he ran away. It goes as follows:

Deer mouse,

I imagine you are romping in mousey heaven with all the other little mousies who were loved at one time or another by little girls with big imaginations. I think about you a lot and wonder how you made out after you slipped my clutches (ungrateful, miserable, uncalled for…)

Though you are cute, you are a species of Peromyscus maniculatus, a rodent of North America. You are gray and furry and have a white tummy, which is darling. You are a mammal, albeit a small one, others of your extended family never grow more than four inches from tip to tail; you were a bit smaller when I knew you.

When I first saw you your head was bigger than the rest of you and all together you were shorter than my pinkie. You were probably only a week old when you were washed out of your nest and brought in by a cat. I probably never should have taken you in, seeing as you and your kind are carriers of Lyme Disease and hantaviruses… but you were so cute! I wonder if the people of England were so easily taken in when Bubonic plague broke out in London. I can’t help imagining how many people have died due to your innocent guile… it’s not surprising that folk have taken to setting traps and keeping cats.  

You seemed to forget so quickly how kind I was to you. I fed you on warm milk at first and even gave you cheese, though you turned your nose up at it. You seemed to like carrots and the occasional blackberry and you collected all the pieces and kept them stashed away at one end of your toilet paper tube. Storing up for winter, eh?

I could hear you chirping at night in your box like a little bird and sometimes you’d make scratching noises and I’d be afraid that you would figure out how to escape and end up haunting the house. You never did, you might be an adorable, fuzzy, little thing, but your brains are only about the size of a pea… which might explain why mice can fit through holes the diameter of a ballpoint pen, their skulls deforming because there really isn’t much inside of them.

Unfortunately, you stink and you’re a terrible housekeeper. It was when I was changing your bedding that you ran away. Fortunately I was outside at the time and watched you scamper under the porch, a brave little mouse.

I saw you again on the woodpile some weeks later, a little furry ball, industriously eating a seed. I will never see you again and no doubt you’re dead, seeing as you could only live two years at the most, but I’ll always remember your bright little eyes, your tiny tail and your little fragile paws.

You may be very small, but you are exquisitely made, putting the lie to the idea that small things are less complicated than the large ones.

Rest in peace,

I hope it wasn’t the neighborhood cat,

Best wishes,

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