Friday, March 01, 2013


February this year was looking to be a no flight month for me (a rare thing), until I realized that a year had passed since I'd seen my mother. She lives in Berkeley. Is that ever a bonus! Here I am, writing about the imminence of spring while blizzards rage outside and there's my mom, in Berkeley, where spring happened weeks ago. And so on this last day of this short, but in many ways very long month, I'm taking off for California.

After a breakfast in the front room, with a view toward the snow covered trees…

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…I get ready to set out at once for work, but too, I take with me a packed bag for an evening set of flights to San Francisco.

During our breakfast minutes at the farmhouse, Ed and I consider the braininess of mice. We have this plastic trap. It's a simple device: a mouse enters in pursuit of a dab of peanut butter, the thing tilts and slams shut. In the now nearly two years of my life at the farmhouse, this little contraption has caught nearly a dozen critters (mainly in late fall, but this year, in the winter as well).

Until this week. Every evening, we set the thing downstairs. Isis is indifferent to the whole project. Once he waved his tail and smacked the trap shut, but mostly he just steers clear of the whole thing. He'll chase mice, but on his own time, when the mood is right and the air is sweet and the flowers are blooming outside.

So we set this trap and sure enough, in the middle of the night, we hear the slam of it shutting tight. Except in the morning, we find that the trap is empty. Peanut butter eaten. Mouse, filled with our organic crunchy stuff -- nowhere in sight. This has happened five times in a row now. Five times!

So how could it be? I propose several ideas: maybe it's this, maybe it's that. Ed, the engineer among us, rejects them all as physically impossible. The only answer, he tells me, is that the mouse is smarter than us. The mouse knows to go in and not mind that the box slams shut. Because he (or she) knows that after feasting, it's possible (I mean it has to be possible) to turn around and lunge for the entrance, causing it to open just enough so the he (or she) can exit.

After five days of feeding the mouse, we conclude that we need a smarter trap, because the intelligence of this animal far exceeds that of the human who invented our heretofore infallible device.

Onto Berkeley. And I write this with great relief because I nearly missed the second of my two flights. Not because of the usual February culprit (bad weather), but because of a malfunctioning gate door at the Detroit airport. And if you're wondering what I'm doing in Detroit when my destination is in the opposite direction, well that's just the reality of flights these days: if you take what's cheap out there you're likely to find yourself flying in circles.

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And because I have become that kind of a cheap person, I will not post this on the expensive in flight WiFi, but will wait until I arrive at my San Francisco airport hotel (the very affordable Hilton Garden Inn). So technically I can't say I am yet in Berkeley and not even really in San Francisco, but I am on the west coast when I click the "Publish" button and that means that I no longer need the snowshoes, the cap, the gloves (I do keep a scarf, just in case). Hello, California! Thank you so much for warming up for me this weekend!