My husband and I started our married life in a tiny, rustic house at the edge of a deep woods. Not surprisingly, we had many encounters with wildlife. Here’s the story of one of them.
Mice With Green Heads
One particularly snowy winter, our house was overrun by mice. We didn’t want to kill the little critters, so we put a big plastic garbage can in our utility closet and baited it with food scraps. Mice would scramble in to get the food, but the slick vertical sides prevented them from climbing back out. Every morning we would find five or more mice huddled at the bottom of the garbage can. We would drag the can three or four hundred yards into the woods (uphill, through deep snow) and release them.
Despite our efforts, the daily mouse counts never decreased. The situation was both perplexing and troubling. How many mice were living in our walls? Dozens? Hundreds? We wondered whether the mice we released in the woods were somehow finding their way back, but dismissed the idea. The distance was too great, the snow too deep.
Nonetheless, I decided to conduct an experiment. One morning I scooped one of the captured mice into a jar and painted the top of its head with green food coloring. The poor thing winced in misery the whole time (“Why is this HAPPENING to me???”). I murmured soothing words and then hiked up into the woods to release it.
The next morning, I found the usual five or six mice in the garbage can—including one with a green head! I repeated the experiment several more times—with the same incredible results. I recalled all those stories I’d heard about lost cats and dogs making their way home over impossible distances. Did mice have the same fortitude, the same mysterious homing instinct?
We moved on to Plan B: driving our wee captives to a wooded area about three miles from our house, on the far side of a creek. (Try to get back now, you little scamps!) We always left a handful of toasted-oats cereal to get them started on their new lives. That did the trick, though our mouse problem was never entirely resolved. Eventually we moved to the suburbs, where our house was occasionally infiltrated by lady bugs, spiders, and ants. But we never again saw a mouse—green-headed or otherwise!
New From The Wild Rose Press: Snowdrop Dreams, Cherry Thumbprint Screams
Annie Barkley lives next to a forest but has worse things than wildlife to contend with. Read about her tribulations in the romantic suspense novella Snowdrop Dreams, Cherry Thumbprint Screams, part of The Wild Rose Press’s Christmas Cookies series.
Check out the book trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giM9IljM448.
Blurb for Snowdrop Dreams, Cherry Thumbprint Screams:
When Annie Barkley discovers a boy living in the attic of her cookie shop, she’s stunned—and oddly elated. She can almost believe the universe is giving her back the infant son she lost eleven years ago.
Annie senses that something bad happened to the boy, but he won’t talk. All she knows is that he’s terrified of being found. When her long-ago crush, police captain Sam Stern, stops by to inquire about a missing boy, Annie says she hasn’t seen him.
Big mistake. Because that lie might cost her more than a romance with Sam. It also leaves her vulnerable to a ruthless pursuer, one who’s determined to silence the boy for good.
She was startled by a thump from above, followed by the muffled slide of the attic window, first up, then down. The groan of floorboards beneath traipsing feet.
Goosebumps prickled across her scalp. Why hadn’t she thought to grab something to use for self-defense? A knife or a fork or Gram’s old cast-iron baking pan, which maybe, just maybe, would deflect bullets. There might be a metal nail file in her purse, except she had no time to hunt for it, because the trap door was creaking open, and—oh, God!—someone was coming down the stairs.
Footfalls thudded across the floor, mere feet from where she was hunkered behind the island. Squinting through the grainy dimness, she peeked around the corner in time to glimpse a slight, dark figure creeping into the room out front. She got to her feet and followed.
She came to a halt just beyond the doorway. The big neon clock on the rear wall glowed blue, giving the room a bar-like ambience. The cookie burglar was standing behind the counter to her left, cramming snowdrop cookies into his mouth.
God in heaven, it was a boy. The cookie burglar was a boy. And he was eleven. She was sure of that, even though the light was dim and she was seeing him only in profile. Something about him seemed familiar—his slouched shoulders, perhaps, or the long, straight slope of his nose. He was slender like her, though a few inches shorter. His hair was matted and dark but with a good shampooing would probably be the same tawny shade as her own.
An eleven-year-old brown-haired boy, come down from above to burgle her cookie shop…
She stepped forward with a gasp. “Jonah?”
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About the Author:
Kimberly Baer wrote her first story at age six. It was about a baby chick that hatched out of a little girl’s Easter egg after somehow surviving the hard-boiling process. Sadly, she never managed to get that story published.
Nowadays, Kim writes in a variety of genres. Her paranormal young-adult novel The Haunted Purse was the third-place winner in the 2021 National Excellence in Story Telling Contest (YA category), sponsored by the Central Region Oklahoma Writers. Her middle-grade novel Mall Girl Meets the Shadow Vandal was the bronze medal winner in the 2021 Reader’s Favorite Book Award Contest, Children’s Mystery category. Snowdrop Dreams, Cherry Thumbprint Screams is Kim’s first foray into adult romantic suspense.
In addition to being an author, Kim has worked as a professional editor for the past sixteen years. She lives in Virginia, where she likes to go power-walking on days when it’s not too hot, too cold, too rainy, too snowy, or too windy. On indoor days, you might find her binge-watching one of her favorite TV shows: Gilmore Girls, Friends, The Office, or Breaking Bad.