Amid the hustle and bustle of this season, I have recently been reminded that, contrary to the temperatures outside, it is winter. As if the short daylight hours, the Christmas stockings and kids being out for winter break haven’t clued me in on this time of the year, a tiny reminder has made it abundantly clear it is indeed winter.

The reminder began last week when I was sitting and enjoying my breakfast tea at the kitchen table in silence. It’s a rare occurrence during this time of the year when I am able to sit in solitude and enjoy my warm morning drink. However, on this particular day while everyone was out of the house and I was writing down my list of to-dos, I realized I was not alone. As I’d scribble another item on my list, a little rustling sound would follow. I stopped a couple of times to determine where the sound was coming from. 

Perhaps a branch was scratching a window, or a toy had not been turned off. When I stopped my list-making and got up to investigate, the noise stopped. I returned to my list and warm cup of tea to continue my task, and the noise began again. Perhaps the caffeine finally kicked in and I was fully aware of the situation because it was then I realized the rustling was in the cabinet under my kitchen sink.

I sprang up from my chair to open the cabinet door just in time to catch a little gray mouse scurrying away. Yes, this is my annual reminder winter is truly here.

Over the next few days, I began my attempt to rid my house of this tiny mouse. Peanut butter cups were purchased and traps were strategically placed. I wanted to get this creature “taken care of” sooner rather than later as I firmly believe that even if you see only one, there are definitely more.

My senses have become acutely more aware of the presence of this little creature in my house. The sounds at midnight of tiny feet skittering across a wooden floor under the cover of darkness, an empty snapped trap minus its appealing bait, and the discovery of a collection of individually wrapped dishwasher tablets relocated from their proper place are all evidence of a mouse.

As I discover more proof of this animal in my home, I have become obsessively determined to catch it.

This determination has become an annual event for me in our farmhouse. Every year at this time I try to outwit pests that have opted to move into my home instead of claiming the many outbuildings and barns as their winter retreats.   

Every year at this time I declare I will catch that mouse! Every year at this time I wake up and immediately wonder if I have caught anything overnight. And every year, I am caught off guard by the determined actions of a tiny creature who, like clockwork, knows when winter is here. Yes, even if it doesn't seem like winter to us yet, my tiny reminder assures me that winter has most definitely arrived.