It seems to me that, whatever you might think of religion in general, the fact that today not many mainstream churches practice human sacrifice is probably a good thing.
Not that human sacrifice is totally alien to our modern thinking, what with anorexic fashion models, drone strikes, capital punishment and the NFL.
Anyway, mouse culture and religion, on the other hand, may not be so enlightened. Or maybe, if you are into reincarnation, the side garden I created several years ago in front of my house by the garage happens to be on an old Native American burial site from an ancient, unknown tribe that practice human sacrifice, and so offended whoever is in charge of reincarnation that they’ve come back as rodents.
It could be. After all, we had a “ghost hunter” appear at the university where I teach recently, and it was a popular event with students. I don’t think ghost hunters or psychics or fairy dancers or tree spirits or astrology or numerology or whatever is all that consistent with the intellectual rigor one would hope for from a university, but that’s just me. And no, I don’t put “religion” into that same category—believing in God is a matter of personal faith and lots of smart people are also people of faith. Believing in ghost hunters is a whole other level of irrational magical thinking and not as positively correlated with smarts.
Anyway, I could be wrong. Recent events, if not ghostly, are at least a bit spooky. Maybe the here-after is sending me a message about the here-after in a block of ice.
This is where things get weird. Just in case you were scoring at home, they’ve been normal up until now.
A week or so ago, partly due to the increase in recycling produced by the Thanksgiving holiday, my wife suggested that I start using a red plastic pail as our glass recycling container. In Cedar Rapids, glass for recycling is placed in a separate container that one puts adjacent to the big recycling bin that the city provides, and I had been using an old plastic pitcher, but the red bucket is bigger.
The idea, unlike “ghost hunters,” made sense to me. We had rain some time ago (seems like a long time ago now) and it had frozen in the bucket, forming a block of ice that I dumped onto the garden. At the time, I didn’t notice anything odd about the ice.
But Monday, as I was getting my bicycle out of the garage, I saw a frozen, dead mouse in the ice. And not deep in the ice, only partly buried on the surface.
That’s very strange, I thought to myself. I would think an expired animal, even something as small as a mouse, would be something I would notice when I dumped the ice.
And why was the mouse only half buried? If it drowned, wouldn’t it be submerged? Or at least have its head under ice?
Oh well. Best laid plans of mice and all that.
Then, this morning, as I got my bike out again, I happened to glance at the block of ice again.
There’s another dead mouse there, a second one a few inches from the first. And I know that the second mouse was not there earlier this week—when I saw the first dead rodent caught in the ice, there is no possible way that I would have overlooked a second one almost right next to it.
The second passed-on Mickey is only partly “submerged” as if it, too, had been swimming in the ice—which is a neat trick, considering whatever happened to this second mouse happened well after the ice block froze and the temperature has not been above freezing for some days.
What is going on? The mice remains look relatively intact; there is no sign of violence or struggle, as far as I can tell. But it seems a bit odd that the slain mammals are collecting in my garden.
I suspect some mouse cult. They come out at night and enact their primitive mouse rituals on the ice altar. Whoever drew the shortest piece of string cheese doesn’t even resist as the other mice use tiny hair dryers to melt a patch for the sacrifice to swim in until hell, or at least the ice block, freezes over.
Maybe thousands of years ago, human sacrifice took place on this spot. I would like to think not, and I don’t know that the American Indian cultures in Iowa were ever known for that practice, but you never know. I also don’t think there are ghosts in Warde Hall, either, contrary to what many students seem to believe. But what do I know? I can’t readily explain the collecting cat food carcasses, either.
Or maybe, rather than a scary mouse religious cult, it’s the mice mafia. Cement is expensive, but ice is cheap.
“You don’t tell us where the cheese is, Guido, and you’ll sleep with the roses.”