Of mice and woman

Do you know what it's like to wake up in the middle of the night to the feeling of a mouse pitter-pattering around on your pillow, pawing at your head and scritch-scratching through your hair?...

Do you know what it's like to wake up in the middle of the night to the feeling of a mouse pitter-pattering around on your pillow, pawing at your head and scritch-scratching through your hair?

Well, I do. And let me tell you, I've never shot out of bed so fast in my life.

That was just last November, when mice were "coming out of the woodwork" all over the Lakes Area, according to the local news. People were saying they had never seen it so bad. It seemed like everybody had a wince-worthy story to tell about mice invading their lives.

I can relate.

It was like the Pied Piper of mice led his furry droves right up to the front door of my family's Frazee country home and unleashed the little Mickeys directly into every nook and cranny of it. They also invaded the garage, shed, my husband's car, and, eventually, my psyche.


It was madness. All summer long and then well into fall, mice were everywhere in our house: in the walls, inside our cupboards, scurrying across the floors in broad daylight, climbing up our living room curtains, even scratching around our bedroom (and let me restate for dramatic emphasis, my hair) at night.

I'm a serious softy for animals, but the situation pushed me to the limit of my patience. I saw, did and smelled mouse-related things that no one should ever have to see, do or smell.

I routinely emptied out kitchen drawers to bleach silverware and wash dishtowels because mice had left their little brown calling cards all over them; I cringed while my husband removed dead mouse after dead mouse (and sometimes only half-dead ones) from trap after trap, day after day (at least he did it, because I didn't have the heart); I chased mice around the house with a broom like a frazzled old lady in a nursery rhyme, trying to shoo them out the door; I woke up night after night to our dog frantically pawing at "something" in the bedroom; I was forced to accept as our new normal that awful aroma that hangs in the air for days every time a mouse dies behind a wall somewhere... and that's only the half of it. I could go on and on.

But it was the mouse-in-the-hair episode that brought me to my breaking point. For weeks after that, the only way I could get any sleep was with the bedside light on. I was in a constant state of mouse anxiety. My ears perked at every little noise I heard, and I jumped at every little movement I saw (or even just thought I saw).

"What was that? Was that a mouse? Did you hear that, honey? That scratching sound? Did you see that? Do you feel that-like something is watching you? I think I just saw one run across the floor!"

My knee-jerk reaction to every real or imagined sound or movement was that it was-eek!-a mouse. Usually, of course, it wasn't. But sometimes it was. I was a nervous wreck. In my own private battle of mice and men (or woman, in this case), the mice won.

As the cold of winter put a pause on our mouse problems, I eventually returned to my old, relaxed self. But now, with the weather warming up again, my anxiety is creeping back in.

I wonder: Will it be another year like last year? Will bleach and brooms and traps and middle-of-the-night dog vs. mouse hunts become our daily reality again? Will I awake to another unwanted tiny-fingered hair combing?


Those questions, I've found out, are hard to answer. No one quite knows why there was such an explosion of mice last year, and no one's sure whether that unwelcome phenomenon will happen again this year-though theories abound (for more on that, read the related news story in last week's Perham Focus).

For now, like all the other frustrated folks around here who struggled through last year's mouse invasion, I'll just have to cross my fingers and wait and see what happens. And maybe start sleeping with the bedside light back on.

Related Topics: FRAZEE
Opinion by Marie T. Johnson
A writer, editor and mom of four (two kids, two dogs), Marie's been in the newspaper business for over 20 years. She started at the Detroit Lakes Tribune in 2017 after working just down the road at the Perham Focus for several years. Before that, she was at the Herald-Review in Grand Rapids, Minn.
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