I don’t know about you, but I have never experienced as many mice coming into my house as has happened this fall. Since late September, when I began counting how many mice my traps had killed, the rate has steadily risen, often with up to three mice per day falling to my reusable traps.

A few weeks ago the count was over 40 pests removed and once the number hovered around 50, I lost count. It’s a true invasion, the likes of which many of us have never seen before. So what makes this year so different from other years?

First, conditions during spring and summer had to have been conducive to mouse reproduction. But that stands as only part of the problem. Usually, by December, we have snow on the ground. Thus far, snow has remained at arm’s length. And that is the crux of the problem.

Being prime targets for a host of predators, mice need places to hide. Come cold weather, mice begin invading our houses because of lack of safe places in the outdoors. When snow arrives, mice happily make little tunnels and runways under the snow and no longer need to invade our homes. When we finally see a good, thick cover of snow, the mice will mostly remain outside, the only critter to disrupt their happiness being the occasional Labrador retriever, sniffing them out and tracking them like a hound on a hare trail.

This winter, like some winters in the recent past, may resemble a roller-coaster ride of temperatures, according to a few long-range weather forecasts. That’s not good, for lots of reasons. The aquifer relies upon springtime snowmelt to refresh and rejuvenate dwindling water supplies. Plants, both flowering plants and shrubs, tend to become desiccated in winter because of moisture-sucking winds and subfreezing temperatures. Wildlife patterns tend to get disrupted, too, during these here-today and gone-tomorrow winters.

We need snow, and we better hope and pray we get it.

Perchin’ prediction

With ice-fishing season near (at least we hope…it all depends upon some real cold weather), it’s time to reinstate the Perchin’ Prediction. It’s not so easy this year, though, since the open-water season has remained viable right into December.

I went trout fishing on Dec. 1, with excellent results. Several Midcoast rivers remain open to fishing year-round and I’ve had lots of fun hitting them. As I see it, the only thing that will hinder open-water fishing is a cold wave, when it becomes so cold that casting is impossible because the line freezes to the guides.

Typically, we enjoy a smooth transition from open-water to ice fishing, but this year could rank as a kind of hybrid, with some of both types being possible. We’ll just have to stay tuned to see what happens.

Christmas cheer

Frankfort is beginning to look very “Christmas-y.” Some houses already have their Christmas lights on and lots of front doors are decorated with Christmas wreaths.

As someone who has lived alone for the last 29 years, Christmas was something I sought to avoid. But the people in this friendly town won’t let that happen. Besides, Frankfort Congregational Church, where I am pastor, has already had one Christmas service, kind of a prelude to the Christmas Eve service. Also, a friend in town visited last week and presented me with an artificial Christmas tree, all decked out with lights and ready to go.

So now, perhaps for the first time in a long time, I am happily embracing the Christmas season. Who says you can’t go home again?

Weekly quote

“When all aloud the wind doth blow,

And coughing drowns the parson’s saw,

And birds sit brooding in the snow,

And Marion’s nose looks red and raw.” — William Shakespeare