I have a new mouse. Quite often in my life, I have a mouse, always solitary little fellows, minding their own business and harming no one.
Only once has there been a mouse in the house (the garden flat I mentioned recently), which little chap used to run over my feet when I was writing. All the others have been garden mice. I don’t know if that makes them field mice. I guess I like to think so. Sweet little fellas, at any rate.
In Skye, the house gets wood mice from time to time. They live in the forest next door but come inside when winter starts to bite. The house owners get a specialist controller in for them, as rodents tend not to go down well with holidaying visitors hiring the place.
Sometimes, when we put food out on the decking for the pine marten, a mouse nips in first and has a peerie nibble before the carnivorous galoot ambles forth. Fast as lightning, that little fellow.
I noticed the latest mouse in my suburban garden when I was out the back doing my Chinese exercises, which consist largely of wafting my arms about.
This little tyke was darting out from shrubbery to pick up food dropped by the birds from the feeder overhead. I did my usual and started speaking at him in a peculiar dialect, as I always do on such occasions for reasons I’ll never understand: “Come noo, du peerie wee moose! Whit’s du waantin’?”
Every time I said “peerie wee moose”, he seemed to come forth, leaving me hoping that I might be able soon to teach him to fetch sticks.
One time, he just sat still and stared at me for a long time. I like to think of my image imprinted on his brain, probably beside a background caption saying: “Beardie poltroon.”
He’s lucky he’s got the grub. I’d stopped feeding the birds as I got fed up of their ingratitude and the fact that they flew off whenever I appeared: “Oh no, it’s the man who feeds us! Fly away!’
I felt as rejected by them as I do by my own kind. But a new wee robin won me round again. Oddly enough, he’s not that interested in charity food, even though I bought him dried worms in suet (yum!). He prefers to grub around in the soil when I’m weeding.
Other birds – having done well elsewhere over the summer – returned to their Uncle Rab as autumn set in and seemed bewildered by the lack of comestibles.
So, I relented and must say the garden has sprung to life again. There’s still a wicked cat that gets in occasionally, and sits malevolently watching the bird feeder, so I’m a little bit worried about my mouse, particularly if I’m doing anything to make him trust the world. But he’s a nimble little scurrier and I’m sure he knows the drill.
Even in winter, the garden mice have never come indoors. One night, in the snow, when I’d forgotten my key and was locked out, a little fellow kept me company.
He chittered with cold a bit, but knew we had separate domains. I was only grateful that he let me stay in his for a bit, as we waited for the locksmith.