Sometimes it's the tiny things in life that are our biggest nightmares. Things that make grown men turn as white as the snow covered prairies in the dead of winter and ladies full of maturity shriek like a two year old. Kids growing up amidst the wheat fields in cheerful, tidy old houses and worn trailers know of these nightmares and know how to watch for the signs of them.
At a young age, I remember opening the drawer in my Auntie's beautiful old farmhouse to my delight to see a plastic mouse - some great thing I thought that she kept toys in her kitchen. My Auntie was working hard to overcome her fear of mice and thought that by becoming so used to seeing this dreaded creature in her cutlery drawer, it might fill her with the strength to stay on the home place when, yes folks, a mouse was found in the house.
I suppose my Aunts' came by their fear of mice honestly. Engraved in my mind is my red headed Irish Grandma going after a tiny grey creature, with the strength of ten men, in the aged farmhouse with a straw broom in hand. Our Grandpa, a hulk of a man and hero in our eyes, perched atop his chair, face bleached white too full of fear to holler. Luckily in our house, our Dad took care of these lil' "problems" and when I heard a rustling in my closet one night, and came out to let my folks know, Dad emerged from the bedroom in a short time, after some thumping abounded, and let me know it was fine to go back to bed, it was only a "big moth."
We were carefully trained as children to take a peek in our boots before we'd pull them on to head outside, so strong are the memories of my mom's of pulling on her chore boots only for her foot to meet a wriggling mouse. I am not sure what it is that makes us shriek, holler, and claim them as some of the nastiest creatures to endure out here in the wild west. Those little field mice, out there destroying crops, carrying disease and seeming to pop out of nowhere like some sort of terrible Halloween prank make so many plumb near lose their minds.
So many of these stringy tailed creatures meet their fate nowadays in a bale buster, but in days gone by when everyone set out bedding with small square bales, a much more fearsome blow was found - not so much for the mouse, but for the one who came across them. Family members love to tell the stories on my dad while bedding the cattle, when all of a sudden the giant man was doing the hippy hippy shake, ripping clothes off, as a mouse ran up his leg - the memory of it scurrying around his skin making him shudder now. Similar things happened to others, like my Uncle, but both men are quick to mention the neighbor lady who had a similar experience putting her hand in her pocket and screeching like a banshee. As she hopped around hollering, ripping at her coat, she somehow lodged that balled up wad of Kleenex in her pocket to realize that the "mouse" was just remnants of a cold.
Now, I know all those outside of the Alberta border, who don't know about the Alberta rat patrol, are probably scoffing at our arch nemesis and you'd like to tell your rat stories, but for now let me revel in my mice stories. Come Fall, when we are all crying and fighting the battle with any of these dreaded creatures, we'll commiserate, laugh, and curse the dickens out of them. We'll also know in our heart of hearts that along with the Red Tailed Hawk, the swift Pronghorns, and the old mother Badger, that the bitsy Deer Mice are more a part of these prairies than us grizzled old folks who have taken up residence here. It still doesn't mean we have to like them.