today, we took a flashlight to the tunnel in the compost pile where we left the litter of baby rats. we struggled to see inside, eventually peering down the tunnel to the straw bed... they were gone. sure, they could have been a tasty buffet for some other creature, sure they could have, but in my mind i imagined the mother coming back for them, after she was positive we had left, relieved to find them all intact and not buried alive. in my mind, she grabbed them one by one, each by the scruff of their neck, carrying them to their new home. i imagined the babies, contentedly nursing with their mother, relieved to be snuggled up warm in the shelter of our shed. and when they were snoozing, she was off foraging for food, birdseed on the ground or vegetable scraps from the compost. yes, i'm a bleeding heart for anything with a heartbeat, so it was a relief, finding the nest empty, no sign of carnage, only the indentation in the straw as proof they were ever there.