LITTLE MISS TITTLEMOUSE

LITTLE MISS TITTLEMOUSE

The tide of builders’ equipment in the Turnstone garden has receded, leaving the family to enjoy the corner under the apricot tree for coffee and cake. This afternoon even Mrs Turnstone was not with me but sleeping off her night’s work at the hospice.

But I was not alone. Peeping from the log pile or between the plant pots: two black eyes and a twitching nose; round ears, tiny hands and a magnificent tail; the new generation of woodmouse clearly sees the garden as hers. She’s discovered that builders drop sandwich crumbs around the bench. I don’t think they know about her; she’s only half-grown so cannot have been out much.

Her mother made free of the kitchen last summer and foraged across the ground floor, hoping we’d not swept up. She would sit fearlessly by us, holding her find and nibbling contentedly. The cupboards had to be mouseproofed when she took to eating oats  from the packet, or biscuits or pasta. Traps were ignored or raided with impunity. She would scuttle across bare human feet of an evening, trusting we would do her no harm.

That brave or foolhardy trait has been inherited by today’s youngster. Let’s hope she escapes the local cats, who watched the compost heap all through last summer. We have disturbed nests there before.

More firsts: the first cuckoo on Mayday eve, and the first swallow, spotted by Mrs Turnstone the day after Miss Tittlemouse appeared.

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