Recently I had to deal with some mice at the camp. I like all animals, great and small. Birds brighten up my day. However, I am not crazy about flying and agitating insects like mosquitoes, black flies and hornets. My little friends, Jack and Brynn Vokes, let me know that they too are not fans of many biting insects when they were with me at their lakeside cottage recently. They do however, like mice.

Nobody thinks much of swatting at flying insects and dropping them out of the sky but the thought of killing a little mouse is not accepted well by many people. Children like Jack and Brynn, who are southern folk that live near Hamilton and were raised on funny mouse characters in books and movies, don’t like the idea of dealing violently with Mickey or Minnie.

In fact, when they realized that there were mice running around in the walls of the old cottage at night their eyes lit up. No doubt images of Mickey and Minnie trying to survive in a hostile world came to their minds. When they saw my mousetraps they were not at all impressed. I found myself trying to explain with the help of their dad Rob and mom Brooke that mice were not good to have around a house. I complained about them lurking in corners and shadows and then coming out to eat what they could of any food we had sitting around at night. It was not easy to portray the little mice as criminal, sneaky, dirty and disease carrying vermin but I did my best. The kids didn’t buy it.

Out of respect for Jack and Brynn’s concerns for the local mice I decided not to load up the mousetraps. Actually, it did not matter all that much anyway because these mice seemed somehow to understand full well the design and use of the mousetrap. They were wilderness mice but somehow had city street sense. Perhaps they had relatives in Toronto or Montreal that visited now and then with stories of all the latest gadgets being produced to kill their kind. I was having so little luck trapping them that I had turned to my last resort by using crazy glue to fasten a peanut to the release lever on the trap. That worked once and then somehow they managed to figure out how to steal the peanut with no consequences. Don’t ask me how. That will forever remain a mystery.

Jack and Brynn were very happy that I had no luck in catching any mice during their stay. To be honest their reaction to mice trapping also got me thinking. Through their eyes I realized that there were alternatives to killing Mickey and Minnie. When I really thought about it I realized that I was part of the problem. I had moved into their territory and established my place. Also, I had an abundance of food around and to Mickey and Minnie this meant an easy meal. The other problem was that the old cottage had fallen into a sad state and although I had patched it up for the most part there were still cracks and spaces here and there that made it easy for the local mice population to come and go as if they were visiting a mall.

It dawned on me that with a little more work I could seal up the cracks and holes where the mice were getting in. This was no easy task as a mouse has a very flexible skeleton and can squeeze through the tiniest of cracks. So, I went to work patching every suspected mouse entry point I could find. I cut wood, snipped pieces of tin, hammered everything into place and stepped back to see the results. They stopped coming around almost immediately.

I found it strange to be able to sleep the entire night without being awakened by the sound of scattering mouse feet in the walls or above me in the attic. There were no more sounds from the kitchen of boxes being chewed or plastic being rattled. The best thing was that I did not have to deal with the corpse of some failed attempt to free a bit of cheese or a peanut from one of my many mousetraps. Not that I was terrorized or anything by my little mouse friends. I grew up on the land and spent many, many nights in prospectors’ tents and old cabins where the mice had the run of these places. We just shared the space with them and carried on with our daily lives.

So, it took two southern Mohawk kids, Jack and Brynn, to remind me that there were other ways to deal with the Mickeys and Minnies of this world rather than exterminating them. Meegwetch to Jack and Brynn for reminding me of this teaching me this lesson through the eyes of a child.