I awoke from an afternoon nap with the sound of a mower in a nearby field weaving its way into a dream about wool gathering which left me with the hilarious image of a farmer hand mowing a hayfield and somehow producing bales of wool from the armful of sheep a man behind him was carrying.
To wake up I headed out for a walk. Half way down the drive a tiny brown ball of fur caught my eye. A baby field mouse was crouched by the kerb of the driveway.
When mice invade my house I am pretty brutal though the mice where I live, unlike the canny bastards I hosted in my flat in Edinburgh-who shared the kitchen table with us and who tried to sleep under my neck (yes!)-are so appallingly innocent that they have a tendency to walk straight into traps or just drown themselves in my toilet leaving me so wracked with guilt I have recently resolved to deal with the next invasion more humanely.
This helpless baby mouse though, because he was not rampaging around inside my house, qualified as wildlife in distress. I went back inside and got one of those old yellow wooden rulers with which to poke him in case he was, as I had so recently been, enjoying an afternoon nap and had unwisely chosen a driveway in full view of predators including an increasingly curious alsatian but he responded with a kind of shrug and not much more.
I guessed he was fugitive from the nearby mowing which must come as some kind of holocaust to the local mouse population. I briefly entertained fantasies of Mice Mammies relaxing in the long grass after the Back to (Hedge)School rush unaware that they would never again see the babies they had just ushered out the door.
Maybe his whole class had been obliterated and he been flung over the hedge by some sort of freak mowing tornado losing his little mouse satchel with his tiny mice sandwiches in the process. Maybe it was losing his lunch that was the last straw or his little Transformers pencil case but whatever it was here he was in my driveway obviously sinking fast under the weight of mousey PTSD.
I made him a burrow in among the roots of a gorse tree just over the wall, digging it out with the ruler which I also used to pick him up with(handy, rulers). As I dropped him into my hand I could see his right eye was clouded though from what I could not tell and he seemed desperate to climb up my arm all of which made everything worse.
I tucked him into his burrow with a bunch of grass but I would not give great odds for him to survive the night but at least he may get some peace and warmth in the dark before some marauding rat gets him.
The rest of my walk was uneventful, the sun dropping low over the fields and warming the stone wall of the barn down the road even as the road faded to pewter. I was surprised to notice how late it had become…