Two weeks after my first lawn mowing adventure, the grass had become another hairy-hairy, and it was time to repeat. I’d meant to do it during the week, but the schedule never permitted it. On Sunday, after church and church-breakfast, I applied sunblock and mosquito repellent, my New York Yankees cap and my sunglasses, and went to mow the lawn.
I wondered, does mosquito repellent plus sunblock produce some kind of noxious gas? Well, too late for it now…
Out came the lawn mower from the shed. I looked it over, noticed some grass residue in the engine housing but thought nothing of it. Then I had a thought: do I need to add gasoline? I fetched my Patient Husband, he of the black-belt in lawn mowing, and asked. He said he’d check.
He too noticed the grass in the engine housing and said, “That’s no good, having dry grass on the parts that get hot.” He said that had never happened before. I pointed out how deep the grass had been when I’d mowed last, so while he checked the gas tank, I started pulling grass from the engine housing where it stuck out. Eventually I got a stick and began digging it out.
If you know where this is going, please don’t think I’m an idiot. I am, but more to the point, this can be chalked up to lack of experience. Because the next thing that happened was I screamed.
It wasn’t fear: it was horror. Baby mice. First one, then a second baby mouse fell out with the grass bits on to the lawn-mower base. That wasn’t dried grass from the last lawn-mowing adventure: that was a nest!
The two of them were about an inch and a half long. They had their ears flat and their eyes shut. And they emitted these pitiful squeaks. I kept thinking, oh my God. Oh my God.
They were going to die. I couldn’t put them back with their mother. I couldn’t feed them with an eye-dropper, could I? Should I? They were only field mice, but still. And I certainly couldn’t start the lawn mower now.
I could see the mother mouse running around the inside of the engine housing now. She could hear the babies, but she couldn’t get to them.
My Patient Husband and I went into high gear. I found a tiny box, put the dried grass into it,and tried to put the baby mice into the box. By the time I did that, though, one of the baby mice was already gone.
It was a relief to know the mother mouse could get the baby and carry it. But I wasn’t sure what else to do. I had the one baby in the makeshift nest in the box, but the mother wouldn’t go into the box to get it. And once she did, what would I do with her?
My Patient Husband was an ace. We took the top off the lawnmower. (He adds, “And why did it take three different size nut-drivers to remove three nuts?”) and he tried to catch the mother, but she escaped. We removed the remains of the nest (with three more baby mice) and finally I was able to get to the one the mother had fetched off the lawn mower base. Now all five were in the box. Of course, there was also oil all over the base of the lawn mower.
I knew where the mother had run, and I set the box with the baby mice beneath that bush. She stared at me as I set it beneath the bush with her. I backed off.
The mother mouse came into the box, picked up a baby, and darted beneath the shed.
That’s the point where I started to sob. I don’t know why then, when I should have been pleased that the baby mice would survive with no help from me and an eye dropper. My Patient Husband held me while I bawled, and the mother mouse retrieved each of the five babies, then made one last pass to make sure she’d gotten everyone.
My Patient Husband called, “Good work, Mrs. Frisby!”
We proceeded to clean up the lawn mower. We’ll take it to a small engine repair shop to make sure they didn’t chew through the wiring.
“You know,” he said as we returned inside, “if you didn’t want to mow the lawn, you just had to say so.”
Thank God I didn’t try mowing during the week. Thank God.