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The Death of a Shrew

By Linda Wescott

I bought a mouse trap. Not for a mouse, but for a tiny little shrew, pear shaped and furry plump, with a long tail and pointed nose. He appeared one cold Sunday morning in the church manse, after my return from a trip. And he needed to go before he got too comfortable with the accommodations or the choices on the lunch menu. But I was busy at the moment with church preparations. So I tried my best to ignore the flash of fur streaking from one room to another except to periodically get up and thrust an empty coffee can before his path in hopes of trapping him. And I prayed that by some miracle, the little creature would just leave.

And I added …   “God, I just don’t want to have to kill this thing!”

I didn’t see the little guy after church, but thoroughly checked out my bedding and the pantry.   The next day I went to the hardware store to buy the trap. My choices were the old-fashioned guillotine break-the-neck sort of trap, to be set in hopes that a neck not a paw would break, and the poor creature’s life would end instantly — or the “Stick-Em” pre-bated glue trap, a strip of peanut butter on sticky foam that would prove fatal. The latter sold at 2 for just $2.49 (a small cost for that little life). I chose the glue trap, hoping to stick-em and then un-stick-em in the woods outside of town, but was told that this wouldn’t work. “It will scream!” said the lady at the hardware store. That’s how you know it’s been caught. Then you just find it and pick up the trap and throw the poor creature, sticky foam and all, out into the woods where it will freeze to death … Voila!

I took the trap home, but I never opened the package.

Instead I found a little jar of peanut butter, tipped it on its side, and set it in a corner. Maybe I would just happen to look when the little thing made its way in. And trap him! But I never saw that shrew again until the next day.

I had almost finished unpacking. And there he was– still plump and pear-shaped, long nose and long, spindly legs and tail – trapped under one side of my opened garment bag. But he was very still this time, very peaceful. I picked up his lifeless little body with a paper towel and looked at a perfect little creature, lying on its side in death as if asleep, no broken bones or grueling struggle with a glue trap. I placed him outside in the snow and said a little blessing.

And I thanked God for taking care of it for me.  At least that’s my interpretation.  I still have the trap. Perhaps it serves now as a poignant reminder.

God works in mysterious ways.

And by the way … I’ve never seen another shrew.