Thursday, June 21, 2007
We relented today and took the kids to the beach, knowing full well it was going to be 1) too cold and 2) too windy to enjoy it. Of course, we were right, but they all went into the ocean anyway, and the larger ones stayed in for the better part of an hour, jumping in the huge waves. The smaller ones had to give up sooner, because the waves were so big they were knocking them over. DD got a nasty scrape on her knee when she tumbled into some rocks. When all four of the younger ones were huddled under their towels, trying to shield themselves from the thousands of tiny needles of the blowing sand, we finally called the older ones in and called it quits, packing up and carting everything back to the car.
That's when I found them, one on the walkway, one in the parking lot, and one actually being blown along the sand of the beach itself: three little mouse-babies, about an inch and a half long, utterly unable to cope with the impossible wind.
I noticed the one at the edge of the boardwalk first, and we all exclaimed over how cute it was, but it was clearly lost. I scooped it up with a shovel and put it near the wall of big rocks so it could find some shelter, but the first thing it did was climb out and head for the parking lot. We steered it towards the walkway and eventually it went beneath, out of the wind.
On the way back from the car to get more stuff, I noticed the poor wind-swept one on the beach. Every time the wind blew he tried to flatten himself out, but since the sand itself was blowing, the pathetic little thing couldn't get a hold on anything, and ended up being tumbled. I scooped him up and brought him up to the walkway, where he could get some shelter and some companionship. He was clearly dazed and even more loopy than the first mouseling had been. He had so much sand in his fur he was probably carrying twice his normal body weight, but that didn't stop him from trying to get somewhere... anywhere. He was literally going in (very small) circles.
The last mouse was lying flat in the parking lot, clinging for dear life as the wind whipped over him. I scooped him up with some difficulty as he was much more lively than either of his brothers, and he did end up scampering over my hand while I moved him to the walkway. He seemed to have his wits about him, though, and dived right under. His poor sand-covered brother was still shivering at the edge of the walkway.
Of course during all this time the kids were exclaiming over the cuteness of the little mice, and we all felt very sorry for them. Obviously they'd lost their mom; they just seemed too clueless to be running around the beach on their own like that. One thought just occurred to me, which is that they may have been nesting in our car (the beach and parking lot were nearly deserted), which would explain how they got to the beach/parking lot in the first place. Oh, no!
The odds that the mouselings will survive is very low, and I knew it was a futile effort to try and save them -- but I had to do it anyway. I suppose it would have been better (and kinder to the mice, too) if I had just scooped them up and tossed them in the trashcan. They would've been out of the wind entirely there, most likely with a supply of food as well. But that just seemed heartless, and as silly as it sounds, I wanted to give them a chance. There are far too many hungry gulls and a huge nest of ospreys near that beach for such tasty little mice snacks to last long in the open. What does it say about me that I can be realistic to the point of callousness about such things -- those mice aren't long for this world -- but that I still made the effort to make their likely final hours a little less unpleasant? Being wind blown to death just seems like such a dreadful, useless way to die.