Thursday, June 7, 2012
I was wrong.
Our farm house is situated at the edge of an ever-encroaching hay field, as is evidenced by my wild looking rose bed out front. With the blazing heat of summer, the hay runners wake up and do just that--start running, sometimes an inch a day until they fall over under their own weight and wave in the late afternoon breeze, ripe for the harvest.
A field of foot and a half tall grass is a heaven-sent protective forest for small critters hiding from the ever-present falcons who weave shadow circles on the ground below as they coast, watching, on overhead currents.
As the summer hay grew taller, the outdoor dreamsicle-colored tom cat began leaving me presents to show his undying affection for my motherly nurturing--a shrew by the basketball goal, a decapitated mouse on the front porch for my inquisitive boys to find and prod with a stick, something indistinguishable that he'd foolishly decided to keep for himself.
But my fierce hunter cat wasn't enough.
Somehow in the after-church house-door-wide-open chaos that seems to happen every Sunday night-- between hustling reluctant children inside to change clothes and cooking a quick supper to put on the table, the mouse crept in, unnoticed.
Before the pancakes and eggs were even on the table, husband's search for a Kleenex brought him face to face with the mouse, now cornered by our one-year-old kitten Hannah. He swiftly closed the bathroom door on them both.
Perhaps it was because its hunched over body was the size of a a baseball, only dark brown and a lot more furry. Perhaps it was because she had already eaten supper only moments before. Whatever the case, when I peeked in to assess the situation, Hannah scrambled out the door, head over paws, in her attempt to run far away.
So much for my attack kitten.
Husband wanted to simply direct the creature out of the house with a cardboard barrier, but I was scared of it creeping in my house another day--I mean, who wouldn't want to return to a land where the smell of buttered grits perfumed the air? Knowing my fear of mice, such an occurrence just might be the scream heard round the world.
So, I gritted my teeth and did what any God-fearing farmer's wife would do. Armed with my garden hoe, I climbed upon the toilet seat and squashed the brown puffball until his eyeballs bulged big and he stopped trying to escape. One squeak.
The children in the other room boldly announced the mouse's death with their outside voices.It was a story of David and Goliath come to life. I was David.
But the premeditated murder of a messy rodent wasn't as empowering as it sounds. I descended my throne and told husband I thought I might just be sick and left him to take the now dead mouse.
In retrospect, I guess we should have just slipped a mouse trap and cheese in the room, locked the door, and let death happen in the dark silence of night so I could skip the dying part.
Being an impersonal murderer is okay with me.
I grind rose-eating caterpillars under my boot heel and snip katydids and grasshoppers with my garden shears without a thought. As a farmer's wife, I'm keenly aware that cows, chickens, and sheep must be slaughtered for my meal. And this is fine, again, because although I know the truth, I'm one step removed from the process.
My mother thinks I'm crazy because mice are rodents and must be killed any way possible because of the damage they do. I agree. I am a Farmer in the Dell mommy. I did what must be done.
But in my quiet time with God, I tell Him, "It wasn't supposed to be this way, was it?" Man wasn't supposed to be at odds with creation. All was supposed to work together in harmony.
I think back to Adam and Eve, when God killed the first animals in the garden to provide skins to clothe two newly naked sinners. When they first put on those clothes, when they first slaughtered an animal, themselves...with their own hands, maybe to provide more clothing for themselves and their family.
Did they weep? Did they say the same thing?
It wasn't supposed to be this way.
at 3:40 PM