Why would anybody want a bucket full of mice, assuming of course you’re not a research scientist or a cat? I didn’t, but I had one, not a full bucket, just five mice. They were dead. They were dead because they were going after something they desperately wanted. That something was not what they had hoped for, and it resulted in a painful experience.
Perhaps we’ve all been irresistibly drawn to something we just had to have, but which ended up bringing a bit of pain. It has happened to me often.
Back to the mice; a few years ago I read about a method to control unwanted mice. The mice I wanted to control were in my berry garden and I wanted them gone. That trick is simple. Get a bucket and pour in about three inches of water. Coat the inside edge of the bucket with a thin smear of peanut butter. Mice will be drawn to the peanut butter and try to get at it. They fall into the water and drown. It didn’t work. Raccoons, opossums and skunks easily turned the bucket over because they also smelled the peanut butter.
My dad was a very successful businessman and as a child I wanted to be just like him. My parents said I should do that, try to be like him and in the ’50s, if your parents said it, it must be true, and you didn’t doubt it. This idea was like one of those mice sniffing at the peanut butter, it was very enticing.
This spring we had a new mouse problem, my wife Connie noticed that mice had gotten into our basement by chewing a small hole in the edge of the garage door. Connie is a pretty woman and she’s smart, and emotionally strong — well almost. Her normal emotional strength is totally lacking when a mouse is involved. She has absolutely no fear of me and I weigh about 160 pounds, but one tiny three-ounce mouse sends her screaming as if it were a 700-pound grizzly.
A few years ago a tiny gray mouse hitch-hiked its way into our laundry room in some pet food which had been stored in the garage. Connie saw it and screamed so loudly that I thought we were experiencing a home invasion. I do not understand her extreme fear, but it doesn’t matter because if I don’t do something about that mouse, Connie will not get down from the sofa where she is standing. So, I got rid of the mouse.
When Connie noticed our new mouse invasion this spring, she said, “They are in our basement, what are you going to do?” Immediately my male ego took control. I must prove my masculinity and protect my woman, I respond, “I’ll take care of it, don’t you worry.” I have no idea what to do, until I remember the bucket trick.
Years ago there was a sleek black car sitting in a show room window. It was beautiful and, it was European. I fell in love with this black machine that had an air foil on back. It looked as if it could leave the ground and fly, so I purchased it. It would only seat two people, but that was fine, for a while. Because it was previously owned, its tires needed replacing in about three months. I begin to slide toward the water at the bottom of my own “peanut buttered” bucket when I priced the tires. Each tire cost more than all four tires on my old car.
Again, back to the mice. This time, inside our basement with no raccoons or opossums, the bucket trick worked perfectly. Soon we had very sad results. The bucket caught five mice, I felt guilty and Connie felt sad but safe. I also fixed the hole chewed in the garage door with aluminum, and for the moment, we are at last, safe.
Eventually I did live up to my parents’ expectations of following in my dad’s footsteps. I went to business school and learned all about running a company. When my dad died unexpectedly I took over running his company for a few years before it was sold. It was only then that I discovered management was not something I absolutely loved, I learned that photography made me much happier, so at 53 back to school I went.
I’ve had so many advantages in life that I have zero complaints, wouldn’t change a thing. I am extremely lucky, always getting a better deal than I deserve. But, sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I started out in photography early in life, and developed my creative side more fully. Then, perhaps one of my photographs would be hanging in a large gallery in New York, instead of hanging in our basement, just above a bucket full of mice.
Rod Hunter lives in East Bend and is an avid hiker, biker, photographer and nature lover. He is the past state chairman of the Sierra Club of NC. He volunteers as a court appointed children’s advocate for children in foster care and with Cancer Services Inc. He is a two-time cancer survivor. He has backpacked in Alaska, Arizona, California, Utah, Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Georgia, Virginia, and of course North Carolina.