today, while james was working in the yard turning the compost he unearthed a rat's nest, tunneled deep inside the ag-fence cylinder, formerly full of food waste and yard debris, now fully composted into soil. there, the little grey lady made her nest by lining the dugout cave with dry straw, a cavernous mansion protected by thick walls of earthen insulation. all of this busywork went on quietly and unbeknownst to us, how long it could have sat there undisturbed until today, noone knows.
james was turning that soil, unearthed the nest by accident, scaring off that little mama. jessie come quick, he said, an urgency in his voice. i ran over quickly to find one little baby, vulnerable and pink-skinned, squirmy with eyes still sealed closed, disheveled and reaching out in the dirt. there's more buried underneath, i said, remembering the pet rats my roommate gianna had in college, two girls the pet store said, dis-proven to our dismay by the big litter of babies they produced.
james worked deftly, urgently, gloves on, gently sweeping soil aside, uncovering one, two, three...six more, count them, seven altogether. our hearts raced as we arranged them so not one was smothered by another, careful not to mark them with the scent of oil from our hands, arranged them so the entry hole for mama was clear. we covered the nest with a wooden planter box, padded the outside with soil, went inside and crossed our fingers for life. because even a baby rat has a place in my heart and on this planet.