I mostly ignored the mouse turds yesterday. I cleaned them up, of course – anyone who knows me knows I’m not the sort of person to let rodent poop linger on the counters – but I didn’t want this new problem to undermine the relief of being home. This morning, however, as I flicked on the kitchen light, a tiny beast shot out from under the cabinet and scurried from one end of the counter to the other before I could blink. I cleaned up more mouse poop, cursed the cats for not being the mousers they once were and started searching “how to rid kitchen of mice” while waiting for the water to boil.
I don’t like killing things, generally. Some hypocrisy exists: I’d wipe ticks and mosquitos from the planet if I could, I’ve no problem dispatching ants or flies, and if I had to catch the fish I’m fond of eating, my diet would return to strict vegetarian instead of pesca-. Once a black dog ran in front of my truck at night, popping into view in the headlights too late for me to do more than yell in surprise, swerve and go for the brakes even as the sound of impact hit our ears. I strove to undo the moment, stunned that I couldn’t. I would never, ever, kill a dog. And yet I had.
Then again, now that I think about it, I have flung myself between dogs and my children when the former have attacked the latter, and I would’ve bashed those animals, would bash any creature hard in the head to save my children. So far, thankfully, it has not come to that. I wish I could take a baseball bat to chronic diseases and Republican policies and shitty health care until all of it was made better; instead, I bought mousetraps.
I wavered at the store. What kind? I couldn’t stomach the snap-traps, but now that I’m home, I think those must be the kindest, right? The glue strips are horrid. I picked up some that entice the mouse inside, “no-see, no-mess,” they say. I’m afraid I’m shirking the responsibility I have to get rid of the mice as kindly as possible, to face the killing. (If only I showed such mercy on the ants before Terro-ing them.) All I wanted to do today was drink coffee, write, take care of my stupid aching knee, relax into being home. All this, despite the chill permeating the house – whatever summer landed in Humboldt for a minute evaporated while I was out of town. We are not ready for winter.
Two days ago I leaned into the sunshine, surrounded by the waters of Tomales Bay, loons bobbing on the waves as the oyster boat motored by. Six days before that I dove off a sailboat into the waters of the Delta, a place I’d never been before. We launched a kayak from the boat, saw hawks and sea lions, paddled under spiderwebs stretched so far between trees the spiders must ride on the air to build such bridges. In between the boat days, I paddled out at Ocean Beach, three days in a row, waves running chest-high to overhead, the sun again glorious, delivering to San Francisco the summer one waits till fall for.
Sometimes I’m sure I won’t remember anything, too much happens, much has faded already, the present obliterating the past, thoughts of the future stealing the time that might be spent in happy nostalgia. In between the motoring and the sailing and the surfing, there was work, of course, and also fears and failures and happenings too dark to write about because they are beyond only me and so I can’t tell all the stories.
I’m warming the house by baking brownies. The day’s grayness suggests I should lie on the couch and finish the book I’m reading, but I’ll try to rally and walk the dog instead. He needs to run. I need to stretch. I need to move my stupid knee, to breathe the ocean in. The fog obscures the dunes, the horizon, makes distinguishing figures in the distance impossible. Human? Dog? Seal? Redwood stump? It doesn’t matter – I know my way.
For better or worse, I have set the mouse traps.