Friday, February 25, 2005

eek, a mouse

J asked me to look in the utensil drawer and see if I had spilled some suspicious looking black seeds over the pastry towel. I pulled the drawer open and to my horror it was a mouse poo playground in there. I spent a good amount of time scrubbing each utensil with warm soapy water then washing them all again in the dishwasher. Normally, I don't like using bleach, but I cleaned out the drawer with water and a little bleach and let it sit to dry. It wasn't such a big deal to him because he grew up in an old house in the country. "My dad used to give me 50 cents a mouse head to catch them," he noted proudly. The first time I ever saw a mouse outside of someone's pet cage was when I was student teaching in a kindergarten class in New York. The kids shrieked in both joy and horror when they found a little creature floating in the water table like a corpse in the East River. Children in the City freak when they see 'wildlife' or natural specimens of any sort. I was suprised to see the childrens' wondrous reaction one day when I'd brought in a collection of ponderosa pinecones from my parent's backyard. In this case many of them weren't to phased to find dead wildlife. Still, the neurotic yet motherly side of me reared it's ugly head as a particularly curious boy leaned over the table and reached out to touch the floating mouse. "Don't you even dare touch it!" I snapped almost involuntarily shuddering with disgust at the same time. It's a dirty, dirty, filthy creature, I thought. Plus, it's dead. The little boy drew his hand back instantly, most likely a little shocked from the tenor of my voice. I was usually pretty calm and quiet with these kids. From that day on I seemed to notice mice everywhere. They would skitter around the floor in a friends apartment. Very small, seedy grey critters. If I didn't have my contacts in and I'd catch a glimpse of them scurrying away they looked more like little grey matchbox cars racing across the floor... or cockroaches with grey fur. Let's just say, I'm not a real big fan of rodentia... except for maybe a capyabara but that's about the size of a large dog.

As a result of all this mouse hullaballoo I did get to do something helpful and actually soothing. I was able to sort through my various kitchen utensils. When I see my nutmeg grinder, I am reminded that we haven't had baked custard for dessert. The set of rippled square biscuit cutters reminds me that we may need to make beignets with cinnamon and sugar for breakfast. My ravioli press tells me that I may have to bring out the hand crank pasta maker and make some butternut squash and hazelnut ravioli before the winter's end. I see my old citrus zester and remember that it's been rather dull lately and I may need to get a new one to replace it. Then suddenly, I'm overcome with a craving for lemon curd on toast. Each piece of equipment in this drawer is part of a treasury of food pleasures and memories. And to think, it took the droppings of a little mouse to remind me how important these things are to me.

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