Njal’s Saga

Njal was less guest and more invader, though he depended on my hospitality.

The problem with Njal is that he was a mouse, a rodent, vermin. He arrived shortly after the suicidal and dependable phalanx of autumn house-mouses, destructive, dirty, easy to bait and kill. But Njal was different. Smaller. More reckless (or curious? or, even, affectionate?). That he HUNG OUT ON THE SOFA with me was unsupportable, creepy and adorable. What do you do with a mouse like Njal?

Njal was a field mouse, no bigger than my thumb. He was used to evading predators, hell-bent on surviving. He didn’t need much to survive on, either. A random invisible dusting of protein powder was all he needed. A fragment of popcorn was Thanksgiving dinner to him. He changed the way I kept house. No more food scraps in the trash can. They now all go into the freezer then out to the trash…

I really wanted him OUT of my house, but after a month or so, I named him. Njal, for one of the greatest figures in Icelandic sagas, Burnt Njal. My little mouse was a viking, living here with hostile forces (probably sleeping with Bear at night when he wasn’t hunting for cracker crumbs).

I learned to live with Njal because he was clearly NOT leaving. We established boundaries, and he stayed here a long time, not exactly a guest, not exactly not a guest.

Ultimately, Neal was an hors d’oeuvres for my friend’s Australian shepherd, Reina when she, her human, and her pal, Bailey, came to visit. I observed Reina hunting, but said nothing. Her human had developed a soft-spot for Njal. When I was sure Reina had done the deed, I told him. My friend said, “I’m sorry. You’ll miss him.”

But I found it a fitting end for such a brave being.

And, he was wrong. I don’t miss Njal. For all his charms, it’s disgusting living with a mouse — even a Viking mouse. In time, another mouse attempted an invasion, but I had prepared the house with ultrasonic “Mouse Discouragers” (you gotta’ love Chinglish. Whether the devices work or not, it’s fun imagining a discouraged mouse) and he left. He was not Njal, just the usual house-mouse. Sooner or later I would have trapped him.

Njal’s Saga Tapestry

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