I had to take action. I’d been listening to their scurryings above my head every night and wondering what they were up to in the loft. It’s a dark, cobwebby space, long and spooky, silent, waiting, holding boxes of heaven knows what, familial bric-a-brac, books – stuff the children will wander through when we are gone, wondering why on earth we ever kept any of it.
Okay I said to myself, time for mouse traps. Yeuch I hate them. I hate mouse poison even more, not that I’ve ever tasted it, of course. I hate the slow dying of it. At least traps are quick, unless they’re not. It’s the ‘not’ bit that keeps me turning over in bed and pretending it’s the wind pushing things over up there. Well, it could be. There are loads of holes for it to shoot through. ‘Up there’ is one of our mysteries. Unlike modern day lofts, ours is 19th century and has hardly changed at all over the years, beyond its contents. Gaps between slates show me sunlight, and as for lagging, there is a bit here and there, but nothing that quite spans the space between roof trusses or ceiling beams. There is flooring, but that just hides a possible Mouse City so I’m not fooled by it. The cobwebs are black and strong. I’ve been right to one end on my hands and knees in search of something, anything I might recognise, batting away cobwebs quite impervious to batting. After a fretful and panicky few minutes during which every episode of Nightmare on Elm Street shot through my brain like fire, I re-appeared down the wonky steps in dire need of both a jolly good hoovering and a double brandy. I could hardly breathe for hours and my dreams were littered with gigantic spiders for nights after. I actually like spiders very much. Just not the nightmare ones.
Anyway, back to the mice.
In trepidation and braced for Cobweb Attack, I donned my head torch and pulled out the wonky steps, took a deep breath (my last for a while) and, with my head, pushed up the trap door. Let’s re-name it. Loft door. Yes, that’s less scary. I pushed up the loft door and let my torch scan the darkness. What did I expect? A line of jaunty mice, all waving and saying ‘Gosh, we haven’t seen you since last winter! How have you been?’ Hmmmm. Nothing, of course greeted me beyond the long dark spooky silence and all those flaming boxes of nothing I recognise. I actually did wonder if the stuff wasn’t ours at all, but left behind by one of the Whoevers who lived here before. I saw a cricket shin pad thingy, well, half of it to be precise, the upper part now a fluffy mish-mash of ‘munched white’. Spurred on by this sight (himself will be horrified…..no more Wicket Man) I set the traps with peanut butter and nearly lost a few fingers before getting it right. Sorry…..I whispered into the gloom and let myself down. All day I hated myself with a strong hate. How can I be so cruel? I know it is utterly foolish because mice should stay outside shouldn’t they, and if they don’t, well, it’s their funeral?
It thinked me of small things, generally, in life, because it is the small things that have the power of big failure or of big success. For example, our daily habits are small things. We dont really consider them much, are not mindful of them until one of them begins to jar, to feel wrong, to nudge for change. If we don’t make regular checks on our daily habits, we may find ourselves caught in the cobwebs of our lives, trapped in the dark. We humans can think that we are who we are and that’s that. We can’t change now. Well, I will challenge that. However old we are, we can change and all change begins with the small things, one small thing.
I may feel ludgy and lethargic. What can I do about that? Well, I can stay ludgy and lethargic, or I can decide to take a walk for ten minutes and then tomorrow, I can make the same decision until, after a few days, I have created a new synapse in my brain, a new habit, one I don’t even question. I just do it. Then, one morning I wake up and I don’t feel ludgy and lethargic any more. Gosh! How did that happen? Well, it didn’t ‘happen’. I happened it.
I caught 12 mice. I didn’t feel great about any of the process, but I knew I had to deal with the small things before they became a big thing and chewed up all those mysterious boxes in the long, dark, spooky loft. I went up this morning and found both traps un-pinged. I’m not saying the job is done, for the small things will, no doubt, be back, but because I have taken action, I have created a new synapse in the loft of my life. Who knows……perhaps this Spring I will crawl up there in a hard hat, with a sharp knife to open up the past.
Somebody’s past, anyway.