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Summer 04

Yesterday when I got home I encountered a particulary gruesome scene.  A mouse had been insufficiently trapped in one of those old-fashioned mouse traps that flattens them with a spring-loaded bar. Apparently it only got the mouse’s leg or tail or something, because it had run into the bathroom, dragging the trap behind it, and squeezed under the shower stall, where there is a gap of about – no let me actually measure it so you will know how much to be impreessed or appalled with exactitude – just a sec.                                      There, I’m back.  It is 5/16ths of an inch.  That is just a tad over a quarter of an inch. I had no idea a mouse could fit under there. Guess I know where to caulk.

Anyway, the mouse was under the shower stall, and the trap was outside it, since the little yellow, cheese-like paddle was taller than 5/16ths of an inch. I gave a squeamish tug on the trap to see if I could drag the mouse out, but no, the little feller would have to help by compressing his body again, and I can completely empathize with his instict to not allow a huge, unseen power yank on his painfully injured body part away from a comfortingly dark and close hidey-hole into gawd-knows-what. And yanking the feller’s leg off didn’t appeal to me not only out of compassion, but because the obvious result would be having a dead, rotting mouse under my shower. I thought the situation over for a few moments, and of all the options I could think of, the most appealling was to leave the problem for later, which I did.

I went out on some business, and came back a few hours later to find that -ta dah! – the problem had solved itself. Never understimate the power of procrastination. Either the mouse got away, or Allie the dog pulled the trap out, because when I got home, the trap was in the middle of the kitchen floor. I’ll let you know when and if the mouse carcass starts to fulminate.

On a pleasanter note; the weather has been wonderful.  We have some hot days, and then some cooler ones.  We have impressive thunderstorms –with rain, which is  nice for the fire danger – after which the sky clears and the sun does a thoroughly credible imitation of a first-grader’s drawing of the sun shining over a quaint cottage swimming in a sea of crayola-green grass. The wildflowers this year are absolutely magnificent.  I live here, and should be pretty much inured to the ways of wildflowers, and even I am impressed. I ride my mountain bike among them every day, trying to burn off my nicotine addiction. The plangent neediness of those cravings is now so familiar as to be boring.

The entrance of a plethora of bears into the neighborhood, on the other hand, is not boring.  Late in the spring, when all the huckleberries, chokecherries and etc. on which bears feed were in bloom, there was a hard frost.  All the flowers were killed, and thus, now there are no berries.  So the bears come down out of the mountains to forage at barbecues, bird-feeders, garbage and the like.  One bear was on Eddie’s back porch, extracting the garbage bags from the can, which pissed Eddie off, so he chased the bear up the hill. The bear didn’t want to give up his breakfast, so he lumbered along with the garbage bags dragging behind him, spilling garbage and contributing to Eddie’s ire.  Eddie’s wife, Patsy was still in her jammies when she saw this all, but couldn’t stop herself from contributing  to the melee, so she ran outside with a big pot and a ladle, which she banged together. Unfortunately, this was before she had had her morning pee, so she was banging on the pot, in her nightie, while hopping from one foot to the other, and crossing and un-crossing her legs.

I don’t know, since I wasn’t there, and am only reporting what she told me about the incident, but I imagine that all that noise might have attracted the attention of her neighbors, Sonny and Donnie.  That could be a little embarrassing, but the neighbors, had they witnessed the event, would only be calling the kettle black if they thought to criticize Eddie and Patsy for their animal control techniques. For Sonny – who has always been, shall we say, a couple ants short of a picnic – has demonstrated an astonishing lack of understanding about the fondness bears have for garbage. He expressed a profound befuddlement at the fact that a bear got on his back porch and got into his garbage. It wasn’t that the bear climbed the back steps that dumfounded him, but that he got the lid off the can. I found it necessary – but effectless – to mention that garbage can lids are to bears what gift-wrapping is to a six year old.

Other bear-antics around town include the one in which a bear went for a swim in Dave’s inflatable pool, which no longer is. And the bear that the game warden trapped up at Many Pines Campground.  The warden tagged the bear and drove it to a lonesome spot 50 or 60 miles away, and let it out.  Two days later it was back at Many pines, sniffing for spilled bacon grease.  I guess the problem won’t abate until hibernation time.  Until then, I ride my bike on the high mountain trails, since the bears are all down at the potluck in Neihart. Allie protects me, too. She’s not only an early warning system, but an appetizer. She provides me with precious moments in which to get away.

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