December 26, 2008

The food chain

Filed under: family,misc — Duchess @ 4:30 pm

I’m back in England after a month’s visit to the US.  The Piper’s Son (child no. 3) picked me up in his little red VW with his brand new driving license.  I knew I would miss our hours in the car together while I supervised his practice, but I was sure he would pass his test, scheduled for while I was away.

I had left the little island on a cold, stormy Sunday, fetched by Silverbridge (child no. 1 who lives in the US) and he drove me to the airport early the next morning.  By the time I arrived in England it was Wednesday morning, and I was tired of travelling, and tired.  I began to think children with cars and driving licenses were fine things.  Two down, two to go.

The Piper’s Son is a pretty good driver, and on the way back from Heathrow to Oxford, though I did still give the odd bit of driving advice (I’m not suggesting the advice was odd – I’m speaking Brit, so I am just saying it was miscellaneous and occasional), we mostly just chatted.  I hadn’t seen my son in a month and he was filling me in.

We’ve got a mouse, he said, meaning at his father’s house, where he and his younger sister mainly live. 

Dad set a trap.  It’s a humane trap, he added. We’re not savages.

Later, his father elaborated.  It seems the humane trap has caught a mouse several nights running.  The trap provided an excellent dinner for the mouse, and then in the morning my ex husband released the mouse in the garage, so it would be somewhere warm, of course, leaving it with another snack.  The additional snack was to encourage the mouse to stay in the garage, my ex husband explained.  Meanwhile, in the kitchen, he reset the trap.

My ex husband was still cheerfully wondering whether he might have been catching the same, persistent mouse over and over the night he caught two mice. 

I said where there are two mice there are a lot of mice. 

Also, since I had recently been visiting my father I mentioned that my stepmother likes to feed the birds, but sometimes the food she throws attracts other creatures. 

Besides birds, my stepmother noted, snakes and rats ate the food she put out.  There was an incident with a snake in the basement, and she began to see rats scurry around the back porch.  Soon, the occasional hawk, spotting the snakes and rats, circled, dropping in for the kill. 

Then my stepmother put out leftovers for the hawks. 

While she was telling this story my father interrupted to say that then the Husband said he would kill the Wife if any more Hawks ate any more Rats who were eating Food for any more Birds.  And that put a Stop to it.

Processing allegory is a family skill.

My ex husband considered this for a moment.  He is an economist.  It’s part of his job to think about unintended consequences (economists call them externalities).  He meant to be kind to the mice.  But now he is worried that the food he is putting out for them (to compensate them for being removed from his house) might attract birds.  And birds might attract cats.

And cats eat mice.


  1. Ah yes….the circle of life.

    Glad you are back home safe and sound. :)

    Comment by Midlife Slices — December 28, 2008 @ 12:00 pm

  2. Glad to see you back, Duchess. I hope your daughter has also arrived home, safe and sound too … Love the sweet little picture of the mice whooping it up around the flaming pudding!

    Happy New Year!

    Comment by Tessa — December 28, 2008 @ 5:41 pm

  3. Glad you’re back, and sounding in fine fettle.

    Comment by ByJane — December 29, 2008 @ 11:18 am

  4. Well, I can appreciate that your ex (?) was trying to save the mice — poor little things are just trying to get along in the world, but I sure got a nice chuckle out of the story. It all goes around and around, doesn’t it? Anyway, no cat I know actually eats the mouse she catches. They’re more for entertainment than sustenance.

    No place like home, is there?


    Comment by Kj — January 2, 2009 @ 3:42 pm

  5. I read this post and knew just what I was going to say in my comment. Then I saw that Midlife Slices said it for me….so….yeah…what she said.

    Comment by Smart Mouth Broad — January 3, 2009 @ 6:44 pm

  6. Thank you all! I was so touched to be welcomed back by so many people. It was good to get home, though I struggled with jet lag and was hit immediately by Christmas…

    The mouse cartoon was drawn by my talented, modest, sweet and best of all, funny, former assistant.

    Comment by Duchess — January 5, 2009 @ 3:10 pm

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