Friday, May 16, 2008

Mortuss Rodents

"Mom!!!" My Princess Ballerina yelled to me, rushing in through the front door, her face flush with excitement, "You've got to come see this!"

She grabbed my hand, and started pulling me out the front door, running as fast as she could.

"It's just the cutest little thing I've ever seen!" she told me as she pulled me down my neighbor's driveway. "LOOK!"

She was pointing to a chipmunk, cute, tiny and very very dead.

"He fell asleep on Mr. Don's driveway! Isn't it cute?"

"Oh honey, he's cute, but he's not asleep.... he's dead."

"Dead?" Her eyes filled with concern. "What can we do with a dead chipmunk?"

There was not much that I wanted to do with a dead chipmunk, but I was pretty certain that there were tons of things that her brothers could do with one.

"Not much, and I think it'd be best if no one else found out about him. Let's just move his body to the woods and then he can be food for another animal. That way, he can be useful rather than if he's squished by a car on the driveway."

Or played with by some mischievous boys, I thought, but didn't say.

So, I went off to get the shovel. The other kids were inside, and I quickly snatched the shovel from the garage. I almost made it out undetected. Almost. As I was headed for the garage door, the basement door opened and out walked 3 more kids.

"Hey! What're you doing with a shovel?" Green Bottle Boy asked.

"uhhh....nothing....just moving some stuff." I replied. This was a kid who squealed with delight when we first found a dead squirrel in the backyard.

"Ohhh! My first dead squirrel!"

So, obviously, I didn't really want him to know about his "first dead chipmunk."

However, he didn't buy it and followed me out to the driveway. The cat was out of the bag, and I was okay with that, except that he noticed, right away, that the chipmunk wasn't dead. Great. It was slowly dying. Even better.

So, the 6 of them (they had a friend over) formed a semi-circle around the dying chipmunk, creating a kind of advance directive council for the dying. It was truly touching, except that the chipmunk was going to get dumped back in the woods no matter what they decided.

"We should take it to a vet." Lawyer/ Social Advocate boy said.

"Okay, I'll go get a Kroger bag to pick him up with," Said my Princess Ballerina.

"First of all, " I objected, "I'm not calling around to find a vet that treats chipmunks, and secondly I'm not willing to pay a vet that treats chipmunks."

"Let's lay hands on him and pray for him," Swimmer Girl suggested.

"AHH," I cut in, "NONE of you are touching him."

He, actually she (she rolled over on her back when I picked her up with the shovel), was really cute and it was sad. However, in the end we laid her to rest under a tree in the woods behind our house.

This was our third small animal death since living in this house. There was the infamous "first dead squirrel" and also a mole that my husband happened to stab while it was underground. Of course, the mole couldn't just die underground he had to climb out and do a dramatic heart grabbing death scene . And, of course, he waited until the next day when my husband was at work, making sure he left his bloody body out in our front yard where every kid walking home from school would see him. I swear he was just getting back at me for destroying his tunnels.

We had one small animal death years ago when we lived in the funeral home. A squirrel apparently ate some mouse poison and then climbed up into a large tree at the side of the building. I had no idea, as I passed under the branch, that there was a squirrel balancing above me, barely clinging to life. He fell down, missing me by about 1/2 a foot. I felt a bit like Chicken Little, only it was falling dead squirrels rather than falling sky.

I didn't want to dispose of him, so I left him for Rob. He didn't get around to it until dusk. He got a shovel and took the dead squirrel to the top of the hill that formed the front yard of the funeral home. Much to the joy of the guys hanging out at the bar across the street, his timing couldn't have been better. It was dark as he started digging the grave and grew darker by the minute. Suddenly, the lights, on a timer, flipped on, and there was a very defined silhouette of a guy digging a grave in the front yard of a funeral home cast all over Cheviot Road.

Since then, we've gotten wiser. We just throw them in the woods.

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