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The small smell of death takes over

September 28, 2017
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

I am pretty sure that there is a dead mouse in this room.

I came in here to write about serious matters I would like to share with my readers, some things I have been considering and deliberating on for months now, even years, and -

Yes. There is. Something. Smells like a dead mouse.

I just opened the door to the office where my dinosaur iMac sits, hooked up to Keene Valley Video cable, which supplies my Internet connection, so I can't move it to another room to write my column. Which is a shame, because of the important and serious nature of the subject matter I want to share with you.

I was hoping that I was imagining it and that there is really no dead animal in here, but I know, really, that odors are never imaginary, especially the smell of death. In the words of the immortal Hamlet, "You'll nose him as you mount the stair." I'm pretty sure that's how it goes. Only, of course, Hamlet was talking about Polonius, not a mouse. Polonius would be worse. Even so, it amazes me how much smell one small mouse can give off. So thank you, kitties.

You would think that Jupiter or Orangey, the cats, could be prevailed upon to come in and find the offending object for me so that I could dispose of it, since in all probability they were the ones who chased it in here, tortured and killed it and then left its body, but no dice. They have flat-out told me they wash their paws of it.

"My job here is done," Orange would say if he could bring himself to make the effort to raise his head from the pillow.

Come on, cats! If you won't do it, maybe I'll borrow Scrappy, the little terrier who is staying next door.

In the usual course of events, a cat loses all interest in the little creature he has murdered after he has thrown it around for a while. Generally, he just stalks off disdainfully, seldom evincing the slightest desire to eat his prey, much less give it a decent burial.

"Dead mouse somewhere in the room?" The cat says. "Hey. You're on your own." Cats are something like French chefs I have worked with who prepare magnificent feasts and then majestically leave the kitchen for the dishwashers - called divers, or plongeurs - to clean. Except the cats never prepare magnificent feasts, unless slaughtered rodents are on your menu.

On the other hand, any dog in the whole world will race into the office and immediately locate the mouse, which it considers highly interesting and odorous in a good way. In fact, I would probably have to prevent the dog from rolling on it.

What I actually set out to discuss today involves the high value of riparian, riverine habitat relationships and their role in today's changing world. Regarding findings of the California Interagency Wildlife Task Group that could impact the Adirondack Park, New York lawmakers said, "Sure, it's a problem, but why throw money at it?" Furthermore -

On second thought, bringing in canine assistance won't work because in this case it would entail going through a lot of preliminary cat and dog drama, which, come to think of it, would no doubt preclude ever getting around to the mouse at all.

Cat owners, if you want to avoid the dead rodent problem I am now facing, beware. This is the time of year for intensified predation in the natural world. Halloweenish spider webs drape the porch; the arachnids are going crazy. The cats are desperate to go outside at night to hunt the little beasts at the bottom of the food chain. But kitty, all of the bigger predators share your instinctive urge to fatten up before the long winter begins. Coyotes, wild cats and fishers are out in your backyard looking for rodents and, they fondly hope, the odd house cat. Orange and Jupiter don't listen to this. They merely look disdainful.

Not that you would know winter is coming from the weather around here. The last couple of days have been about 90 degrees in Keene Valley. People say that we have had a strange summer, what with all the rain and then this heat in September.

All right, I really have to do something about this dead mouse. I hope it's only a mouse. More about riparian habitat funding in California next time.

Have a good week.



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