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Why don’t you kill it?

It started when the plastic cap of the oil bottle disappeared.
“What the heck…?”
We took a look around, and found the cap under a chair, partially eaten.
Oh, shucks!
Autumn is here, the first showers have hit us, and as usual we have an uninvited guest in our house. Field mice have learned that in the lairs of the Sapiens there’s food, warmth and no rain.

So we armed our spring-operated cage, put a piece of cheese crust in it and waited.

It actually took us four days, and finally we had to use a small piece of high-end smoked cheese to lure the interloper in, and this morning when I came down for breakfast, there he was, not really pleased, waiting for me in the cage.

So we put him outside, where he momentarily attracted the attention of one of the local feral cats, while we had breakfast, and then while I kept an eye on the feral cat, my brother took a post-breakfast stroll to the levee of the Belbo, and freed the prisoner about 500 yards from our house.

On his way there he met a neighbor, that stared at my brother like he was crazy and asked

Why don’t you kill it?

His idea was to take the critter out of the cage and snap its little neck.
And I think this gives me a measure of the local mindset – people that shoot at cats for fun, and then kill field mice bare-handed.
I was reminded of Edward Abbey, who once said

I prefer not to kill animals. I’m a humanist; I’d rather kill a man than a snake.

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

But it’s not like that hereabouts.
Peasant culture is by its nature merciless in these hills, were men and women have done gruelling work on the hillsides for generations, never looking up at the sky, bitter, narrow-minded and insular.
The 20th and 21st centuries barely made a dent in that armor of meannes.
They keep telling us we are foreigners in this place.
It’s not a bad thing, I believe.

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