Last weekend, my friend Carolyn and I decided to wake our canoes from their winter snooze.
As we walked around the lake’s perimeter to reach the opposite side, we wondered how long it would take to find our boats. They were two among many that rested either on racks or on the ground.
Since mine is green, I searched by color. Four or five green canoes later, I found it nestled between two of its friends on a lower rack.
Too bad I failed to remember that we had stuck “MCCUTCHEON” on the bow with those sticky, never come off until you die or maybe even later letters—the kind people put on mailboxes.
While Carolyn continued to sift through canoes, I wrestled with the bike lock that secured mine to the rack. It’s not easy to open a lock when the paint that once defined the numbers is completely worn off.
Trust me when I tell you that cracking a numberless combination lock is more torture than solving the most difficult Sudoku puzzle.
About the time my lock clicked free, Carolyn said, “I found mine!”
Hers was hull-down, trapped under a couple of other boats. Once we unearthed her canoe, we flipped it over and…YIKES!
We didn’t see a bear or a possum or skunk or a snake.
We saw a mouse—or maybe he saw us first. The little guy scurried up and down the length of the canoe like a teenager trapped between two angry parents.
I know what you’re thinking. I do.
“A mouse? Are you kidding me? Just an itty bitty harmless mouse?”
Say what you will, but uncovering a mouse when one least expects a mouse is a heart-pounding YIKES.
We recovered quickly from our shock and went into action. With Carolyn at the stern and me at the bow, we turned the canoe to its side in an attempt to shake the mouse onto the ground.
Ha. Ha. Ha, ha, ha.
Like Spiderman, our little guy ran sideways along the boat’s wall and disappeared behind a flat aluminum plate into the hollow stern. Keep in mind, the space around the plate is no wider than a round toothpick.
Those darn mice are magicians, I tell you.
Thinking fast, we scrounged around for long, toothpick-like sticks. One of us poked the stick in and out of the stern, while the other beat the outside with the back of a canoe paddle.
With each pull of the stick, dead tufts of grass and bits of styrofoam fell from behind the plate. Could he have talked, the mouse may have claimed squatter’s rights.
Our method worked. Out came the mouse and back we jumped.
Again we turned the canoe. Again, the mouse sprinted, this time under the opposite plate and into the bow.
I am sad to admit that this same scenario went on a couple of times before we wised-up and turned the canoe on its side. We leaned it toward the ground while continuing our eviction tactics.
Once the mouse appeared, it took only a quick shake to send him running into the grass. Sweaty, but relieved, Carolyn and I righted the ship and…YIKES—out came the wife.
Now experienced mouse evictors, it did not take long to send Momma Mouse in search of Poppa. When no babies appeared, we shoved off, soon discovering we’d had an audience.
Kids met our canoes on the other side of the lake.
“Did you see a snake?” they asked. “My g-dad and I saw you jumping around the canoe.”
Later, we discovered things could have been worse. Last spring, Carolyn’s daughter-in-law took a friend along to put the canoe in the water.
The mouse didn’t start running until they reached the middle of the lake.