Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

This is no 5-star rodent hotel November 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:52 AM

"The Thing" may be just the answer to my rodent problem. I photographed this trap at the Rice County Steam and Gas Engine Show in September.

EVERY TIME I WASH clothes these days, I approach the task with trepidation.

It’s not that the job has become difficult, burdensome or more time-consuming. It’s simply that I have guests who don’t like to be disturbed. Let me explain.

My laundry room lies in the basement of our old house, adjoining the hideous red-carpeted, paneled room that is supposed to be the family rec room. Rather, this vintage 70s space has become a dumping spot for just about anything—long-forgotten toys, card tables and folding chairs, a punch bowl from my mom, an old cedar chest, winter boots. Really, it’s a cluttered mess best kept behind closed doors.

No one in their right mind would recreate here.

Except rodents.

Each fall, they pack their bags and head for warmer climates. What Arizona is to snowbirds, my basement is to mice.

Two weeks ago the first of the expected guests arrived. My husband, Randy, already had laid out welcoming mats complete with complimentary snacks.

The first guest checked in the first night and was promptly evicted the next morning.

Since then we’ve sent two more snowbird mice packing to the Great Beyond.

The problem lies in the fact that I frequent the laundry room four times weekly, minimum.  These unwelcome guests seem not to care about me as they wander freely between the unpleasant, cobweb-filled laundry/furnace room (which opens to crawl spaces) and the rec/storage room.

Most days I can pretend the rodents aren’t there enjoying the amenities of their luxuriously-appointed suite. I trick myself into believing that, if I can’t see the mice, they must have checked out.

Ha. Who am I fooling?

I need only pull open the laundry room door for a reminder that these snowbirds consider our basement comparable to any five-star hotel. A welcoming mat lies only feet from the washing machine and inches from the dryer. Sometimes I’ll find a mouse lounging there.

But typically Randy discovers these immobile vacationers per my routine morning request that he check on our guests. (Actually, I ask, “Did you check the traps?”)

He does a fine job of handling these unwanted rodents and for that I am grateful.

But, I would be an even more thankful wife if Randy would do the laundry until May, when the mice check out for a few months and head up north to the cabin, or wherever they go.

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(Because of past encounters with mice that included a dead mouse floating in a crockpot, a mouse rummaging through a silverware drawer and a mouse threatening me in the confines of a bathroom when I was six months pregnant, I am understandably terrified of mice. These incidents happened in separate Minnesota locations over a span of years and are only a sampling of my woeful rodent tales.)

© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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