PAT NEAL: The quarantine conundrum

IT WAS GOING to be one of those days.

You know the ones, where you’re just about fed up with everything and everybody and you don’t really care anymore.

That’s when you know you’ve got the chronic quarantine conundrum — for which there is a cure.

Consider the many people working in essential industries that would love the opportunity to be stuck at home, bored out of their skulls.

I knew I had to work on my attitude. I decided to have a big party with all of the trimmings — moldy cheese, dehydrated peanut butter and bacon grease.

Not your idea of a party? That’s OK because you weren’t invited anyway.

It was a party for my little friends who like to drop by every year about this time. To rustle about, scurrying here and there, and destroying all of my material possessions, such as they are.

You can call them mice. I have other names for them. Many of which are not printable in a newspaper.

They are a plague, vermin and the scourge of any peaceful home in the wilderness.

At first, they only come out at night when it’s possible to hear a quiet scurrying somewhere in the distance.

At this early stage of an infestation, it is easy to mistake the first symptom for a simple haunting of a friendly ghost, but ghosts don’t generally leave physical evidence of their presence in the form of droppings.

At some point, depending on the sensibilities of the individual, there comes a time when defensive action is called for.

With me, it came in the middle of a big project I had embarked on during the stay-at-home quarantine.

It was a big job I had been putting off for years, but there was no time like the present. I had the time, so it was time to get it done.

I was going to organize my sock drawer.

The job wasn’t getting any smaller no matter how long I put it off.

One day I just had to start in on it, but first thing’s first — I had to empty the sock drawer.

That’s when I found a nest of cute little hairless baby mice curled up in the bottom of the drawer.

I may be a brute and an ogre, but what would you do? Raise them to adulthood until they were able to care for themselves and survive in the wild?

No. I tossed them out in the driveway for the raven to eat.

It’s a circle of life thing, and the raven is my friend.

That’s when I knew I had to get serious about getting rid of the mice.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of advice on this subject like, “Why don’t you get a cat?” a know-it-all friend asked.

I have a cat. Sort of.

It drops by just long enough to get fed once in a while.

That was when I was giving her saucers of milk and cans of tuna.

Then I ran out of milk and tuna, and the cat stopped stopping by so often.

She would just come by once in a while to see what was on the menu and turn up her nose at the dry cat food, give me a dirty look and leave.

She had other places to go where there was milk and tuna.

Some critters are like that.

That left me to deal with the mice on my own.

The first night I got three.

I reset the traps with a wild joy on my heart strings.


Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing and rafting guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via

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