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Home for the summer: Our crafty house guest

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We’ve been back in our cabin for a while now, and for the most part we’re settled in and ready for the summer. The mowing has been done. This includes two round trips up a quarter- mile road to get both sides and two swipes at the lush green grassy center strip. It’s up hill both ways, which you can’t understand until you’ve been the one doing the mowing.

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We’ve dusted the cobwebs off the ceilings, vacuumed up the mysterious stuff that lurks in the corners of the cabin and re-stacked the piles of firewood that collapsed during the winter. We’ve also noted all the good occasions that are coming up in the area and marked them on our calendar.

One thing has not been laid to rest, however. We’re still on mouse-alert. Over the years we’ve worked endlessly to find any little gap or crack that would allow a mouse to get into the cabin. As you may know, they can find their way through amazingly small openings. There have been a few summers when we’ve arrived and found no mice in our various traps. That has not made us complacent, however, and we always set our assortment of traps when we leave in the fall.

When we walked into the cabin a few weeks ago, we found one mouse in the big bucket trap in the kitchen and another in the big bucket trap on the porch. Both had been there for a long, long time. There was one mouse that had gotten stuck in the goopy insect trap we had set under the cookstove to trap bugs that happened by. That the mouse had also died a long time ago. But, under the sink, a more recent mouse had managed to get snapped by two traps. Amazing. And there was one trap, unsnapped, still offering its serving of peanut butter.

Briefly, we happily assumed that only four mice had gotten into the cabin and that we had done them all in. The unsprung trap proved that. But gradually we began to see things around the cabin that led us to believe that a wary, crafty, creative mouse might still be on the loose. Here’s how we knew:

A shelf next to the fireplace has a box which holds, among many other things, a ball of twine. The end of the twine had been dragged to an adjacent wall and clear up to the top. It was strung over the frames of several hanging pictures and the whole length of it was loopy, raveled and twisted. If a mouse could crochet, that’s what it would look like.

Looking around some more, we discovered that lots more of that twine had been taken off the ball and was in the vent on the side of the fireplace. We peered through the little bars into the vent area and marveled that a mouse had been able to chomp off a very long piece of the twine, slip through the skinny space with the end of it, and crochet herself (we assumed this was a female mouse activity) a cozy little nest. Later we looked at the wall in the kitchen behind the cookstove and discovered that several of the many miscellaneous treasures — an old compass, an ancient skate key, an antique cookie cutter — that we have mounted on the wall had been knocked off the wall and left lying on the floor. Our primitive spice rack, with many jars of this and that – some also ancient – had seen some action, too. Several were on the floor behind the garbage can and a number were tipped over.

So, will we solve the mouse mystery? Will Super Mouse strike again? If we catch a mouse in any of our re-baited traps, how will we know if we’ve gotten Super Mouse? If she crochets us some cozy little item for the cabin, we’ll be sure to let you know.

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