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Living in rural area sparks tireless Tom and Jerry act

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I am a live-and-let-live kind of guy when it comes to nature’s creatures.

When I see a spider in the house, I try to usher it outside rather than stomp on it. Snakes in our yard or garden have my best wishes. Even the deer who attempt to make a smorgasbord of our vegetables and flowers are urged — with the help of Sydney the Dog — to vacate the premises rather than become venison.

Living in the country, it seems to me, requires one to adopt a sort of cheerful resignation toward animal lifestyles. So when I discovered a mouse living in my car, I didn’t get all uptight. I was a cool cat.

A couple of years ago, my wife was driving her car to work when a mouse scampered across the dashboard. She just about lost it, she said. She stopped the car, rolled down the windows and opened the doors.

I guess it worked because we never saw her mouse again. I figured it probably got in her car while it was parked in the garage. I know the little rascal could have gotten inside from dozens of openings, but since that incident I try to remember to roll the windows up when I pull inside.

Recently, however, the driver’s side window of my car was left down overnight, and the next day we surprised a mouse sitting on the top of the backseat. Although this seemed to add weight to my open-window theory, it presented me with the problem of dealing with Mr. Mouse.

I cleared everything off the floor and looked under the seats. I opened the glove compartment (Does anyone keep gloves in there?), and checked in the hatchback area.

When I failed to find the furry rodent, I figured, “It’s cool. He will let himself out in due time.”

A few days later, I noticed a napkin I had left on the floorboard was shredded. I was calm.

“He’s down to eating paper; he’ll leave soon,” I thought and promptly put him out of my mind.

Days later the empty plastic bag of raisins I had left in the seat as a reminder to buy another bag was chewed.

“Looks like my he’s back,” I thought. “OK, Buddy. I gave you a chance to end this thing peacefully.”

That evening I smeared some peanut butter on a mousetrap and placed it on the floorboard. The next morning I opened the door to find the trap sprung, the peanut butter licked clean, and no sign of Mr. Mouse.

I was starting to lose my inward calm toward all creatures great and especially small. I did a more thorough inspection of the car, and when I pulled out the spare tire I discovered a fluffy nest of shredded paper and fabric.

“I’ll try again,” I thought. “It’s a mouse, after all.”

From the innumerable cartoons I watched as a kid, I knew that if a mouse has an Achilles’ heel, it is cheese. I sliced a small sliver (I even cut it in a wedge to look like cartoon cheese) and placed it on the trap, this time in such a way that he couldn’t possibly eat it and survive. I put it in the car.

“Let’s see you get out of this,” I nearly cackled.

Turns out, that’s just what he did. He got away cheese and all.

I am beginning to see myself as the cartoon cat who is always outsmarted by the mouse. I’m not sure what to do. I figure poison is out because if he eats it and dies and I can’t find him, I will be driving around with a really bad smell for a long time.

For now, I am just waiting for him to get tired of this cool-cat-and-mouse game and leave on his own. Maybe he’ll miss his family. Then again, he might think he’s got it so good, he’ll move them in.

I would definitely not be cool with that.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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