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Thursday, November 27, 2014

October 18, 2013

It's raining at The Hollow this early, dark morning. Not a noisy plunking kind of rain, rather the shooshing-traffic kind. Not hard to tell the road's wet, just listen to the cars. So, I knew it was raining even before I peeked out the back door. And is it ever dark just before dawn! I opened the door just enough to poke my head out, and heard whoo-whoo-who-who. Mr. Spookowl is on the prowl! Hope everyone is safe-and-sound at MouseHouse this morning. I expect there are two weary little boy mouselings at least.
Sometime in the night, I awakened to a brighter room than normal for that hour--thought it was time to get up. Funny how light affects our sleep cycles, even light from the full Hunters Moon, or who knows, maybe it's because of the full moon. Scientists say people do act and feel differently when the moon is full. Oh dear. Who knows what I'll do today! So anyway, I tossed-and-turned for awhile, disgruntled that it was only 2 a.m. and not time to get up at all! Guess the clouds rolled in and darkened things again, because the next thought was 5 o'clock.
Hunters Moon. Suppose that has something to do with hunting season? As you might imagine, with my love of all the creatures at Hare Hollow and beyond, hunting (for sport anyway) is a sore subject. And because we live in a wooded area, (albeit a dwindling one!) we frequently hear gunshots at dusk and dawn during hunting season. We cringe every time.
Ah well... the cycles of life--our Creator holds the tiniest sparrow in the palm of His Hand, so Scripture tells us. I must rest assured that every creature is equally precious in His sight, and trust in His keeping. Only He knows the reasons behind man's motives.
Bic found his way to another adventure yesterday--nothing too risky mind-you, but mischievous just the same. I'd promised to help my daughter clean her garage... it's that time of year to consider garages being used for their real purpose--a place to park the car undercover! So off I went, early in the morning, cleaning-duds on, lunch packed, singing my way down the highway at... well, I won't mention how fast. I try not to break the speed limit, but dear-dear, I do have to watch that lead-foot! Now there are 5 Stops, a one-way tunnel and a couple of stop lights between here and there, and it was while I sat waiting for my turn through the tunnel that I noticed something dangling from the side pocket of my purse. Looked like a tail... a pink tail. Second look though, it had disappeared. I must be seeing things, goodness, I'll have to get my eyes checked again.
Soon we were dragging pots and rakes, shovels and stuff out onto the driveway before the sweeping and brushing, dusting and storing began. We were about half-done by lunchtime, and it was while soup was being heated, and I was alone in the garage that I saw a tawny blur dart from behind one of the storage bins. Delighted, I assumed it to be a Hare Hollow cousin to Sir Fivel's brood, but no... the next glance proved me wrong--a tell-tale pair of denim blue overalls and a mischievous pair of sparkling brown eyes looked down at me from atop a shelf bracket.
"Bic!..." I exclaimed. "What are you doing here? And how did you...? Oh never mind, I know... my purse. That was you, you little rascal." With a squeaky-giggle, he darted behind the bin again.
"Bic... now you listen carefully to Mama Hare, you better pay attention and get back in the car before I leave or you'll be left here many miles from home. And your folks sure won't like that! Have you thought about what Miss Winklesnout is going to say about you skipping school today?! Or your Mama, what she'll think when you don't come home at the normal time?"
He peeked out at me again, looking a little worried now, and this time another, identical face, appeared at the other side of the bin. "Ben?! Not you too!" I couldn't help but chuckle though. How is it they know what my plans are, almost before I do, and manage to stow-away without me knowing, again and again?
We had a productive day. Her garage is clean and ready. Bring it on, Ole' Man Winter! So wearily I headed home just as rush-hour began, traffic was heavy, with lots of stop-and-go's, but I had company, and not just the traffic kind. Two weary little mouselings lay curled up in the passenger seat, tucked in behind my purse and the seat, tight against each other, tails curled, long-lashes laying on tawny cheeks, they napped peacefully. No need to hide now, Mama Hare knew their mischief already, and was just glad to be bringing them safely back to their own mama.
October 13, 2013

Speak, Lord, in the stillness, while I wait on Thee; hush my heart to listen in expectancy--this is the song of my heart this early, hushed Sunday morning. The candle on the stove flickers invitingly as I prep my morning cuppa. All is silent, but the hum of the refrigerator. What a wonderful thing silence is, and how blessed I am to feel such soul-deep appreciation.
It's a noisy world. Every store blasts music (if you can call it that) so loud and obnoxious that it's hard to concentrate on what you're there to buy! And dare I mention restaurants? We sit across from each other, smiling apologetically because we can't hear a word we're saying to each other, so we wave instead, indicating that we'll finish the thought in the car, and of course, by the time we get there we've forgotten what it was we wanted to tell each other! We inhale the meal so we can get out of the noise. Whew! What a relief when we finally get outside! And we pay for this--often dearly? Hmmm.
Even out on the back porch--our little corner of heaven-on-earth, the noise creeps in. Well, truthfully it's more than a creep, but at least we can still hear each other. Neighbors mowing, or blowing leaves, the highway, even though 3 or more miles away, rushes and roars constantly... trucks, cars, sirens. Our used-to-be quiet country road, with a speed limit of 25 mph, is now more of a speedway, especially when college is in session. We can tell the time of day quite accurately just by the sound of traffic... the early morning commuters, and yes, we know exactly who is late and in a rush, schoolbuses and the testosterone-enriched college set, then mid-day, only the occasional whoosh and scurry. It all starts up again about 3 p.m. and continues past dinnertime. Then on weekends... well, that's another story.
Last night someone decided to celebrate July 4th--a little late maybe, but guess they were saving up the ammo. The blasts went on and on, and just when I thought it was over, and nearly back to sleep, another blast propelled me out of slumber--and nearly across the room. They must've had a good turnout for the event since not long after the last blast, the guests began to leave. Pipes roared, engines growled, tires squealed and then I guess there was a race scheduled as a finale. Several cars sped by and a few minutes later sped by again... and again. The pipes roared even louder and every little creature at Hare Hollow cowered in terror!
This morning though... it is still. The revelers are sleeping, the highway is quiet, even nature is at rest. Yes, even at MouseHouse. There was a little light from around the doorway this morning when I peeked out, so likely Sir Fivel is up getting a fire going in Walnut Woodstove. Perhaps he too is enjoying the stillness, reverent before His Creator as well.
How blessedly peaceful it is; how blessed I am to recognize it. Now to embrace this stillness, wrap it carefully around my soul, and bring it with me to our gathering this morning.
October 11, 2013

So I thought I’d sort my yarn bin yesterday. You know, rummage through the bits-and-pieces left over from various projects I’ve done through the years. Seriously, I must condense! My daughter creates beautiful lap robes and sofa throws from just this kind of thing—bits-and-pieces, this color and that. She has a way with color. No matter how things might clash on a larger scale, she courageously crochets those little bits-and-pieces together--a splash of clashes, if-you-will, and it all comes together in a thing of beauty. I have one she fashioned just for me… in every shade of pink, rose and purple you can imagine. It is stunning and best of all, it keeps me toasty on a chilly night when I’m sitting there sorting out my yarn bin.
My projects are more cautious and well, bland, I suppose you could say; the colors must blend and match, and of course go perfectly with the room or outfit envisioned. And yes, there are always those mini-balls leftover-- bits-and-pieces that I just don’t know what to do with, so typically, I pass them on to her.
Well, of course you know where this is going. I left the yarn bin uncovered when I toddled off to bed last night, and it seems there is someone else around here that knows exactly what to do with bits-and-pieces! I wouldn’t have known, or missed them at all, had I not been out on the back porch this afternoon, investigating a commotion around the bird feeders—just a benign scuffle between a few sparrows. As I turned to come back in, I noticed a suspicious splash of color—actually several of them, dangling from the eaves near MouseHouse. As I looked closer, I noted a few shorter pieces on the walkway between the porches as well—bits-and-pieces of yarn.
Well now… I muttered to myself, it seems I’m not the only one sorting through my yarn bin. I wonder who that could be! I picked up the little bits-and-pieces on the porch floor, bunched them up, along with the danglers from the eaves, and placed them on the eave edge for better access. As I did so, Fivelina appeared at her doorway.
“Please accept my apologies, Ma’am…” she spoke so softly, shame and embarrassment written all over her sweet blushing face. “My boys have been up to no-good again. They took these from your house last night, and I’m so very sorry. We have spoken to them, and it won’t happen again, I assure you.” As she spoke, she handed me a tiny woven basket full of the tiniest balls of yarn you can imagine. She’d neatly wound each remnant and placed them in the basket to return, all—that is, but the bunched up ones I’d just placed near her door.
“Oh no, no… sweet Fivelina! I would be thrilled if you could use these little bits-and-pieces to make something for your family for winter. They are too small for me to use and I was just going to pass them on to someone who could. Please… you keep these. I hope you can use them.”
She paused, considering. “But Ma’am… I can’t abide my children stealing things… I don’t know…”
“Perhaps you could tell them of our conversation,” I suggested, “… and ask them to do something to help me as payment for taking the yarn?” She smiled. “Yes, thank you, Ma’am. That’s exactly what I’ll do. Thank you so very much. This will make a wonderful warm reading robe for Sir Fivel, and I thank you, Ma’am. You are very kind.” Later there were two very busy mouse-ling boys, sweeping pine needles off the porch walkway with their tiny straw brooms. They didn’t even look up as I peeked out the kitchen doorway.
For years, I’ve tossed yarn pieces, dryer lint and other bits-and-pieces outside for the birds to use in building their spring nests, or for lining their winter hovels. Little did I realize those bits-and-pieces might also be useful to make reading-robes for chilled Mouse Gentlemen! Who knew?
October 7, 2013

Rainy Monday. The to-do list is long and Mount Laundry towering, but there's something about rainy mornings that draw me irresistably toward the recliner, hot mug of honeyed tea in hand, and a good read. [Yawn] Maybe even a little mid-morning snooze? Lazy, you say. Hmm. You may be right.
Autumn has that effect on me too. Truth be told, I really don't like it that much--leaves dying, soon-to-be bare trees. Oh I know. The colors are breath-taking right now, beautiful Monet hillsides, vivid mums on every doorstep, bright yellows, rusts and wines tucked into hedged landscaping, fat pumpkins too, and cornstalks on lampposts, scarecrows grinning... it's all smile-worthy and, well... short-lived. A couple more days of rain and wind... well, you know the score. It'll soon be hunker-down weather, at least for this spring-summer-loving chick.
At MouseHouse, things are buzzing again. Bic is all recovered, but for a few lingering sore spots. He's back to school and his normal (albeit wiser) routines. Mouse school is in full session by now, there under Big Rock in Mama Hare's back garden. The mouse-children sit at tiny desks lovingly crafted by the creative mouse-village carpenter, none other than Sir Fivel.
Miss Winklesnout, their teacher, is an elderly mouse-ma'am, a bit on the plump-side, but lovingly jolly and of good nature. She is dressed this morning in her usual garb--a bright flowered dress tied at the waist with a thin bright blue ribbon. Miss Winklesnout loves ribbons! She has a collection of them--one to match every dress, and she is never seen without them. The more mischievous among the mouse-children find great glee in giving those ribbons a little tug as Miss Winklesnout walks by, causing the bow to come undone. Her reaction is what tickles them of course, the little shriek followed by high-pitched oh-my's and dear-dear's, as she twirls about trying to snatch the errant ribbon, the end trailing behind her, her spectacles slipping down her nose and sometimes falling right off the end! The faster she twirls, the more the ribbon flies, and the louder the giggles get.
"Now-now, children!... You must help me. We can't continue with our lessons until I get put-together here..." and so the more chivalrous Ben comes forward, his giggles contained but bubbling, and offers to help. "Stand still, Miss Winklesnout, and I'll help you." She complies, and soon her ribbon is tied securely again.
"Okay children. Now settle down. We need to begin our personal-safety studies today. Winter is coming and there is much to learn so that we can all stay safe. I need your full attention." As she pauses, waiting patiently for the giggles to subside, they settle in their seats.
Winter is coming. Oh yes. And I also have much to do. Best get off this recliner and get to it!

October 4, 2013
Wolves at Hare Hollow? Well, probably not, but it sure looked like some wolf pictures I've seen. He--well, he didn't proclaim gender, but for want of knowing better, I'll just assume... now what was I saying? Oh yes, he sauntered through the back yard, head held high, fat fluffy tail curled happily. He paused only a nano-second, an arrogant glance in my direction. We briefly made eye-contact and that wild, calculating look was enough to tell me I wasn't looking at any ole' puppy-dog! His coat was clean and fluffy looking, a tawny deer-brown, and he stood taller and broader than our usual gray dirty-looking coyotes. Yet according to Wikipedia, he probably is-- a coyote, that is. There are brown ones too. As far as I know, there are no wolves in this part of Connecticut, but I've learned this year that we have some mighty big coyotes!
We've seen Tawny Coyote before--a few times earlier in the summer, and even when we make our presence knowns, he seems remarkably unconcerned, which is, I have to admit, a little unnerving! Chances are he was well-aware of us long before we were of him, long before he decided to stroll through The Hollow and on into the woods again. It is that boldness that has me feeling wary. He's a beauty for sure, but one I'd like to keep at a safe distance thank-you-very-much.
As he passed, the silence was tangible, I noted. The birds were quiet, no one at the feeders. No Sammies, or Chippies, even MouseHouse was quiet. Middle of the day, everyone was busily about their business, I'm sure, but I suspect that every creature knew exactly where Tawny Coyote was as well, and each hunkered down--what do they say now, oh yes, sheltered-in-place--until he passed on by. Whew! Escaped this time!
It wasn't long after he left that I heard the Sammies (aka squirrels) crying in the tall trees. Not sure if they were warning one another, or if tragically they lost a family member in the fray. I know-I know...coyotes have to eat too. But... oh dear.
A bit shaken, I came in from the back porch, thankful for the place I have wherein to shelter safely! Goodness! What's next... elephants?!
October 3, 2013

Beautiful October. Gratitude swells as I raise the blinds and see the amber rays filtering through the woods across the road--russet maples, beautiful yellow-gold and oranges peeking out from among the still-greens—a beautiful sunny, albeit coolish morning. We are blessed with a few days of summer again, and this lady isn’t complaining! The to-do list is long, chores to finish, new ones to start and a few things to check off the Prep-for-Winter list, but for now, I’ve brewed a fresh cuppa and have settled out here on the back porch. It’s surprisingly quiet—well, it shouldn’t surprise me since it happens every year this way; maybe just say it like it is—I miss the birdsong of spring and summer.
The migrators have long-departed, so that accounts for fewer voices of course, but considering the headcount at the feeders each day, plenty are left to sing. Thing is, they are just plain busy! Too busy to sing, I guess. Busy searching, fetching and storing; seeking and prepping warm roosting spots in which to brave the coming winter-winds and long cold nights.
We’ve been watching Winona Woody clean out old nesting material from the woodpecker house. No, the woodpeckers didn’t nest there this year… a House Sparrow did! And Winona seems rather indignant really, appearing again and again at the doorway, pitooey-ing soiled dried grasses and other debris from her beak. She will bring in fresh supplies soon, making a cozy bed for winter. Who knows, maybe she’ll even get first dibs on the real estate in the spring when nesting time comes around!
It’s probably safe to say that all the woodland creatures are of the same mind these days—I know there’s lots of activity at MouseHouse. There’s so much to do to prepare for tomorrow, they are too busy to chatter and sing. Sad. Yet they are wise to think ahead. God made them well; He makes no mistakes. Still, there’s a lesson out here for me this morning: Don’t be so busy that I lose my Song.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

October 1, 2013

Leaves. It seemed like a good idea to rake up a few today, get some aerobic exercise and keep ahead of the raining leaves. R-i-g-h-t. Was I kidding myself? You bet. After pushing one big pile onto the tarp, I turned back to view my handiwork. What?! A bazillion leaves already lying on the ground where I just raked? Sigh. But when I came in for lunch and saw the huge pile I'd dumped into the woods, well... gotta admit it, I smirked a little.

This is the one time of year that being near woods, and having so many trees in our yard, is questionable. I'll get over it though. Especially after a long barren winter and those same trees bud out again in the spring.

Meanwhile, up in MouseHouse, little Bic is still recuperating from his frightful experience. Someone suggested that I tell Fivelina about Calendula ointment... so I relayed the message to her this morning. She gave me an ah-ha look, tapping her head as if to say 'of course, why didn't I think of that?' and then scurried off to her pantry without even saying goodbye. I smiled and stepped away, leaving her to the ministrations. Hopefully Bic will be more comfortable soon.

Betina has a beau. A rather handsome dude-of-a-mouse actually. I saw them chatting together near the pachysandra patch when I was raking. I didn't stop to listen of course, that'd be rude, and they both ducked further under the pachysandra leaves when they saw me, but not before I noted her pretty tan cheeks all flushed, her brown eyes just a-sparkle as she smiled so shyly up at him. I suspect there may be a wedding in the spring, but one never knows. Young love can be so fickle.

Ben faithfully brings homework for Bic each day so he won't get behind in his studies, and demure little Bitsy helps any way she can. Our Bic is considerably quieter and more sober than his usual spunky self, so everyone is just pulling together until he is well.

Nothing like a crisis to help us appreciate one another a little more.
September 30, 2013

The last curtain is ironed and rehung, one more room cleaned and cozied for winter. The washer and dryer are still spinning and whirring, but Mama Hare is in need of a break!

Papa Hare and I sat out on the back porch for lunch today; we could actually hear it raining leaves! Oh, it's not really raining--on the contrary, it's a stellar day, crystal blue sky, sunshine and just enough breeze to make the clothes shimmy on the line, and well... puff the dying leaves off their stems. I'm sad to see them fall. It always puts me in a schlumpadink mood somehow. Happens every year. But I get over it.

I've nothing to complain about though. It's wee Bic who has complaints today. He can't go to school; poor little guy can't even hobble at present, wrapped as he is by bandages and so sore from his deep talon wounds. Mama put mustard seed salve on them and changes the bandages often.

Papa Fivel carried his boy out onto the veranda to soak up some sun this afternoon... always a good remedy for healing wounds of body or soul. They had a little chat too. Bic is a sober little boy-mouse just now, realizing first hand the consequences of not obeying his parents. Papa was kind in his reprimands though, focusing more on how worried he and Mama were when their boy didn't come home, and how sad they'd be if anything bad happened to him. Papa talked too about responsibility--that unwritten, unspoken but very real bond that families have to one another, and how the behavior (or misbehavior!) of one can so quickly impact another. It's frightfully easy to hurt our loved ones just by behaving irresponsibly ourselves.

Bic listened and nodded in all the right places, but he wasn't quite sure what all the big words meant. He knew he had an awful fright, and that he's awfully grateful nothing bad happened to Ben despite both of them being out there in the dark. And he is unspeakably glad that his Papa found him before it was too late. Other than that, he wasn't sure about this rees-pons-sa-bullity... no, that wasn't it. What was it again, Papa?

His wee head began to nod, his eyelids drooped, and Papa tenderly carried him back into MouseHouse and laid him on his bunk, tucking the quilt gently around his bandaged legs and tummy. "Sleep well, my boy... these lessons take a life-time. I don't expect you to understand it all right now."

I stifled a yawn of my own, tipped back the recliner, and well... maybe just a short nap here in the sunshine of my back porch?
September 29

All's quiet here in The Hollow on this chill autumn Sunday morn. How I love the stillness! I do miss the spring bird-song, I'll admit, and this morning, even the crickets are silent--it's too cold to chirp! And they too, like most of the woodland creatures, are resting, snugged in some cozy place. After all, Sundays were given to us as a day of rest, ordained from the beginning of time. What a beautiful testament of woodland devotion that even the creatures know this.

It's been a tumultuous couple of days at MouseHouse. Bic had a narrow escape, an adventure a bit too big for his wee-mouse self, and his parents have a few more gray whiskers!

It started Friday night when he and Ben were supposed to be gathering thistle-down for Mama, and while intentions started off stellar, little imaginations soon kicked in. "Let's swing on the thistle stalks..." Bic invited. "We can still bring Mama's basket of down back in a few minutes... she won't mind."

Ben was worried. As adventuresome as he'd like to be, he also had a healthy fear of the dark, and darkness was falling fast. Ever notice how fast the sun sinks this time of year? "Let's just take one swing and then go home..." he admonished.

Well, as little boys will, one swing turned into just-one-more, and then one-last-one, and before they realized, darkness was upon them. And they still had to trek back from the woods, carrying the basket of thistle-down, and worse--all the way up Downspout-Timber to MouseHouse. Thankfully, Papa had just installed a bittersweet vine railing to hang on to--he did it for Mama, but they all benefited. So up they climbed, one behind the other, one pulling the basket behind him, the other pushing it in front. That is, until they were nearly to the top. Suddenly the basket got very heavy, and fearing that he'd lose the whole afternoons' work, Ben gave one last heave, over the top, and scurried to the front door, dragging it behind him.

"We're back, Ma..." he squeaked guiltily. Mama held the door open, waiting for Bic to come in too. He didn't. "Where's your brother?" she asked.

"Right behind me..." Ben answered on his way to wash up for supper. But Bic wasn't anywhere to be seen. Mama stepped out on the veranda, "Bic... ??" she spoke quietly. It's not wise for a mouse to holler at the time of day, you see. There are many mouse-enemies out after dark.

The light of Mama Hare's kitchen lamp shone out onto the big porch below MouseHouse and even part-way into the back yard. Fivelina scanned the area worriedly. Where could he be this time! Sir Fivel soon joined her. "I'll go down and retrace their steps," he stated as he began the descent. "Oh, do be careful, dear..." she urged.

Back inside, Mama, Ben and Betina ate their suppers with heavy hearts. Both Papa and Bic were in danger now, and there was nothing they could do.

The evening wore on, and soon it was time for the mouselings to be in bed. Much later, Sir Fivel came in, and at Fivelina's hopeful look, he shook his head sadly. "No sign of him... except I found this..." he held out a tiny piece of blue overall.

"Oh no... oh no-o-o!" she whispered brokenly. Sir Fivel put his arm around her, and they just held on. It was a long, sleepless night for them. Bic included, for he'd been snatched by Mr. Spookowl, right off Downspout Timber! One second he was pushing a basket of fluff, the next he was unmercifully grappled by sharp talons and then dropped into an icky nest of hungry owlings! Luckily they were all sleeping when he fell among them, and the resulting jostling and bickering between them, allowed him to scramble up over the side of the nest and hide in the mess of sticks and gunk beneath it. He was trembling so badly he could hardly hang on, and worse, he was bleeding from the talon wounds. But he knew it was vital that he remain perfectly still and wait for things to settle in the nest above him. Mr. Spookowl came back again and again, dropping things in the nest for the owlings, and the noisy jostling and bickering began anew. When it did, the whole nest shook and he could barely hang on. And oh, he didn't even want to think about which of his friends might've been dinner for those ravenous appetites, but he was desperately worried about Ben. What if Ben were one of them! Oh, if only they'd listened to Mama and just gathered the thistle-down and gotten home before dark!

Faint from fear and blood loss, Bic held on as long as he could, afraid to even try getting down out of that high oak tree. He finally fell asleep, wedged between two larger sticks at the base of the owl nest. It was nearly dawn when he was suddenly awakened by someone pulling on him. Startled, he squeaked in alarm. "Ssshhhh..." Papa warned him. "It's just me... Papa... we've got to get you down from here."

All was quiet in the nest above them, the owlings asleep, the Spookowl parents out looking for more prey. Papa soon had his wee boy on his back and down the tree. He stayed in the tall grass all the way back to the edge of Hare Hollow lawn, then pausing to scan the now-lightening sky for danger, he scurried to Downspout Timber. Up he went, carrying his wounded boy, thankful for the help of the Bittersweet Vine railing on this fateful morning.

Mama soon had Bic's wounds treated and bound, and had him tucked-a-bed. He was so weary and hurt, he hardly stirred despite the painful ministrations. His last thought before sinking into a deep restful sleep was 'Ben is safe and Papa saved me.'

How grateful I am too, this quiet Sunday morning, for deep rest and comfort, and for the One that has saved me from so much, for so long and will continue to care for me into Eternity.
September 27, 2013

Errand day. The post office, library, and three-part grocery list--taxables at Wal-Mart, a few things at Nature's Grocer, the rest at the supermarket--then cart it all home, bring it in the house, and we still have to put it all away. Whew! Exhausting. Still, I'm grateful for my lot. Fivelina has to fetch her food supplies one kernal at a time! Literally. What a busy-little-bee...ah, mouse, she is. And seemingly tireless.

With the triplets off to school and Betina busy washing the breakfast dishes, Fivelina rushes off with her tiny woven-hay basket on her arm, out to the field where she gathers every seed and leftover veggie part she can carry. And it's a challenge too! Do you know how many other creatures compete for the same kernal or seed? Yikes. And being the lady she is, she is as apt to offer her find to some other Chippie or Mouse-Mother, as take it herself.

After awhile though, the basket is full-to-the-brim, and she hurries back to the down-spout below MouseHouse , and begins the long climb up the timber supporting it, careful not to spill one morsel from her basket. Let me tell you! That's a feat!

She dumps the basket carefully on the kitchen table, where Betina's job is to sort and clean each morsel before storing and covering them neatly in the appropriate acorn-jar in the pantry. She waits until Mama leaves before sampling a piece or two.

Fivelina is off again with her empty basket, back to the woods and field... always busy, and always at risk. Mr. Spookowl watches her every move from the treetop.

Now, where was I... oh yes, back to those groceries that still need to be put away.
September 26, 2013
Fall cleaning. There's something comforting about pulling down the summer-weight curtains, banishing the dust and grime, polishing windows till they shine, then putting up the lined winter drapes. It feels anyway, like the house is cozier and for sure it has a warmer look. Now mind you, I love looking out at the fully-leaved woods in the spring and summer, even while the leaves are turning in the fall--the palette changing daily! But when the landscape turns grey and barren-brown, I yearn for coziness, warmth, and yup... you guessed, soft candlelight. So like Fivelina, I'm busy these days, preparing the nest for winter.

Trina reminded me yesterday that we need to vacuum out our heat registers before we turn on the furnace. She's finished hers already, but, alas, I still need to... today. Why today, you ask? Well, this morning's MouseHouse adventure is testament to their dustiness.

Thursday morning is plant watering time, you see... and since mine have just come in from the back porch, they are still moist from their bathing routine before being settled in their winter spots. But I'm still used to checking them, and today was no exception.

So vacuum cleaner at-the-ready, I thought I'd check the plants near the back door, and then vacuum out behind the small round table where they sit perched near the sunny atrium doors. Plants are fine. Table is moved. I am hands-and-knees crouched, unfastening the flap at the end of the heater for better access, when I hear a hearty mouse-sized achooooo... followed by several more... miniature clouds of dust wafting from the left-corner. No trouble to tell where he was--that mischievous Bic! Achoooo again.

"Bic!..." I exclaim. "What are you doing out-and-about this chilly morning when you were sick-a-bed just yesterday!?"

"Achoooo... " he replies. And then another resounding sneezle from where... the other end of the heater!

"What on earth...?" I crawl over to investigate. "Oh Ben... not you too!" Well, they are brothers after all, and dare I suspect Ben might be a little envious of all Bic's adventures of late?

"Come on, you two... it's time to go home now. You should be getting ready for school, not hanging around in here! You better hope Sir Mattie is sleeping right now..." I held out my hand. First one, then the other, hopped on, dust-covered, overall straps drooping, whiskers dirty. I carried them out to MouseHouse and Fivelina met me at the door. She shook her head in chagrin as she gathered the two of them to her, shooing them in to get cleaned up for school. We smiled at each other knowingly. Boys will be boys.

Now for that dusty heat register.
September 25, 2013

What is it about chilly mornings? The covers feel so cozy you can't help but turn over and snuggle down, burying your face in that warm pillow spot for just a few more minutes. Then you wake up with a turtle-headache! Argh.

Little Bic has a headache this morning too. Mama gave him a dose of white willow bark and tucked him back into bed with a cold pack, shushing his siblings from bouncing on the bunks as they got ready for school.

So there he lies, covers-to-chin, only a pink nose and whiskers showing under that big ice bag. Where'd she get the ice, you ask? Hmmm. Have ya stepped outside this morning? Yup. You guessed it. His papa was out early, gathering frost off the roof, stuffing it into the ice bag before hurrying back to his ailing boy-mouse, and the warmth of Walnut Woodstove.

Poor Bic. Somewhere in his adventures at Pine Acres, he caught himself a cold, so he's been under-the-weather for the past few hours, sneezling and snortling--well, as loud as a wee mouse can, that is--and now his head is aching. Mama shakes her head knowingly, but never once says I-told-you-so. She is wise. All must learn for themselves--there are consequences for not taking good care of ourselves.

Oh but he had a marvelous time! Racing through the forest with all his newfound friends, hiding from the mongo-spiders--and let me tell you, there were some big ones in that piney woods--and playing hide and seek with his new best buddy, Yipsak, a deer-mouse just about his age. They spent most nights, cavorting from roof to timber, giggling themselves silly until all hours, then finding hideaway places to sleep all day. Why they were even out in that terrible rain storm on Saturday night, pretending they weren't scared of the thunder at all. Not! It was then that Bic really wished he was home, safe in his bunk under the eaves, but he had to be brave for Yipsak.

Yesterday he'd worked hard with Papa, collecting and gnawing sticks for Walnut Woodstove. Guess he plum wore himself to a frazzle, and now the frazzle was tucked in bed when everyone else got to go off to school and work. Poor Bic.

He wiggled down under the covers, grinned to himself and drifted off to sleep.
September 24, 2013

Well, Bic and Ben are out with their Papa today, gathering wood for winter. Betina is sweeping the veranda this early morning, while Fivelina hangs the 3 beautiful pocket quilts she made for the triplets on the bittersweet vine clothesline. She and Betina have been busy getting MouseHouse ready for winter, sweeping and polishing, storing and stashing, lining their pantry with vittles and veggies while Papa (aka Sir Fivel) works on filling the woodpile at the back of the living room, a dug-out in the wall, already more than half full of stick-logs.

Since some have asked what the inside of MouseHouse looks like, I approached Fivelina very politely this morning and requested a peek. She graciously agreed. The front door is a… well, mouse-sized oval in the side of the eave, there in the walk-way between our two porches. Most would miss it really, unless they looked up and happened to see the winsome Velcum—Sir Fivel doesn’t spell so well—carved so artfully into the front door made from tongue-in-groove popsicle stick lumber, carefully gnawed and pieced until it fit just right. It’s important to have a strong door, you see, keeps both intruders and stiff winter winds at bay!

Just inside is the family room, the largest area of MouseHouse, where they all gather for meals and games, where Sir Fivel whittles and carves his latest creations, and Fivelina does all her mama-mousely chores. The Walnut Woodstove sits at the end of the room, complete with its mortar lining and woven paper-clip cook-top. A miniature stovepipe fashioned from a scrap piece of gutter-nail-sleeve threads up through a tiny hole in the eave, and carries out the smoke. And yes, this mouse-gentleman is inventive to say the least!

He made a dining table and a chair for each of them, also a sofa and armchair that Fivelina softened with handcrafted cushions and cozy throws. She gestured, blushing slightly, and pointed to a beautiful wooden rocker with hearts carved into its headrest--clearly, a gift from a doting husband! I marvel at the coziness of the room; there was even a colorful braided rug on the floor made from leaf and stem fibers. Such a talented lady!

Her pantry is a small area tucked into the wall not far from the stove. Lined with shelves—yup, you guessed it, from popsicle stick boards—it is well-stocked. Carefully cleaned acorn shells with flattened bottoms make the perfect container, and she has many of them, each filled to the brim with ground corn, nut-meats, pumpkin and squash seeds, and of course an ample supply of sunflower seeds gleaned from the bird-feeders nearby. Lined up in neat rows, each jar has a quilted cover fashioned from Fivelina’s sewing talents and tied with colorful scraps of yarn. (So that’s where my yarn scraps have disappeared to!)

There are three bedrooms in MouseHouse… the latest, constructed just this past spring, for the triplets. Papa Fivel built sturdy bunk beds along one wall, a chest of drawers at the other for their overalls, bloomers and Bitsy’s wee dresses. She, being the smallest and most delicate, has the bottom bunk, Ben and Bic have the upper bunks, and are the least likely of the three to keep them neat.

Betina’s room is, well—a teenage girl’s room. She has her bunk of course, covered in a warm ivy-leaf pocket quilt—Momma made it for her last year, though it has lost it’s original red color, fading (after numerous washings) to a lighter shade of rust. Evidently she has inherited the knack for interior design, she pasted delicate fern fronds on all her walls, using pine pitch for glue! Can you imagine transporting that sticky stuff into MouseHouse without getting it all over everything else? Dear, dear… another story, that!

Sir Fivel & Fivelina's bedroom has a wider bunk, and a large dresser that Fivel constructed before their wedding. In fact, because he was still wooing her, he carved little hearts at the center of the two large drawers, carefully polishing the popsicle-wood finish until it glistened. Sure enough, she was smitten! A mouse-gentleman making such effort to please a lady was bound to be a keeper! She said yes.

MouseHouse’s necessary room has a tiny commode, sink and bathtub—walnut or hickory half-shells have many and varied uses! The water supply comes from a miniature rain cistern, fed by a small nail hole in the gutter from which Fivel threaded a recycled plastic straw to a tank above the facilities. Did I mention how crafty our mouse-gentleman is? Momma supplies the towels and fluffy bathmats, made from milkweed and other plant fluff she gathers each year. She too, is an industrious and creative homemaker.

I thanked Fivelina graciously for her guided tour of MouseHouse, and, backing away from the tiny door, got down off the step-ladder, shaking my head in delighted amazement. They’re surely set for winter… now I better get busy too!
September 23, 2013

The suitcases are unpacked, sitting at the top of the cellar stairs waiting to be put in storage. The washer is sloshing, the dryer whirring and already, after being up only a couple of hours, I'm ready for a morning nap! Goodness... what is it about a few days outside the normal routines that's so exhausting? Or is it relaxing that's so exhausting?

Little Bic is tucked snug in his bunk bed this morning... didn't move a muscle when his momma called them all for breakfast. Of course he went missing for a few days there, off on an adventure with Mama Hare, despite not being invited, mind you! Evidently he stowed away in some secret pocket on the way to camp--I don't know exactly where, but have my suspicions! But yesterday, he rode in the front pocket of my purse--yes, I knew he was there when I packed up to leave Pine Acres. I heard him snoring, plum tuckered out he was after three days of play and mischief with all the friends he made.

When I got home, I set my purse down beside my chair on the porch, and sure enough when I checked later, the pocket was empty. I heard quite a bit of chatter at MouseHouse too as I settled down in my recliner out there, enjoying a bowl of Sunday-supper-soup. Bic got quite a lecture about leaving without telling his folks where he was going, and stowing away without invitation. All the mouselings were involved in the lesson I guess, since I heard yes-pappa's from more than just Bic. And there will be some penance involved I understand... Bic will have to do extra chores today.

Fivelina is just glad to have all her brood back, I think. I smelled a hearty breakfast being cooked on Walnut Woodstove this a.m. Perhaps ground corn flap-jacks? Sure smelled yummy! Ben and Bitsy enjoyed it, I'm sure. Like I said, Bic is still snoring.
September 21, 2013

Good early morning from the back porch of Pine Acres Campground. I have only a few minutes of free-weeee time, so I'll make this short.

First nights are always iffy in a different place, hearing different noises in the night, and it was no exception here in my wee cabin. Plink-plink, creak and groan, followed by multiple plinks throughout the night, all of which I chocked up to nuts being flung from very high trees surrounding us here. But it was the quieter rhythmic and insistent scritch-plinketity-blimpet that had me curious enough to leave my cozy bed to investigate. I crept cautiously in the beam of the flashlight out into the main room of the cabin. There! I heard it again! But as the flashlight scanned the room, the sound ceased.

This went on for awhile before I discovered the source... the fan was blowing on a little tin sign posted over the sink "Please Don't Waste Water"... causing the plinketity-blimpet, but it was the other scritch that had me concerned. Sure enough! As I reached to take the sign off the wall, I saw a little blur-of-fur and a suspicious glimpse of tiny blue overalls scurry up the pine paneling to higher planes.

"Bic!..." I exclaimed. How did you get here?" He peeked over the top of the knotty-pine cabinet, his whiskers twitching in mischief, a pair of beady black eyes shining in fun. "Young man... your parents must be frantic! How... oh never mind... I don't think I want to know..." 
September 18, 2013

Our back porch looks barren now with all the plants safely back in their winter places--inside the house. Oh, they'll pout awhile, they always do after enjoying sunshine and summer breezes for several months, but soon they'll settle in, accept and carry-on.

Smug with the success of that completed task--and it is a task, bathing, pruning and top-dressing thirty-plus plants, and of course checking for hitch-hikers--I was happily sipping my cuppa this early a.m. Gazing at the lush green specimens perched or hanging throughout the living area, bathed in the glow of stove-top candlelight, I smiled with satisfaction--that is until I spied a tail-- a long grey tail from a certain feline member of our household--Sir Mattie. He was sprawled out in semi-crouch mode, nose to heat register, the rest of him well hidden under the leaves of my giant peace-lily. All, that is, but a tail. A dead giveaway.

"Mattie..." I chided, "what are you doing under Mama's plant!?" He raised his head, yawned in a who-me, pretending-to-be-bored fashion, then greeted me with a sleepy--or so he'd have me think--morning meow. I pushed the leaves aside, bending over pretzel-style to peer under the rim of the register. Sure enough! A set of tiny beady brown eyes gazed up at me in terror. Oh Bic. What have you gotten yourself into this time!?

Distraction. That seemed the best way to deflect a feline's fascination for morning-mouse-on-toast. So I found a few tidbits of chicken--Mattie's all-time favorite treat--in the refrigerator, warmed the offering slightly in the micro, and threw kisses-in-the-air as I walked into my office with the aromatic plate. Sure enough. He quickly followed, sauntering the last few paces, just to let me know he wasn't really that hungry. I shut the door behind me and rushed back to the kitchen.

"Now Bic..." I scolded gently, "You come out of there right now and I'll bring you home again. I don't know what I'm going to do with you. You are a lucky little mouseling that Sir Mattie wasn't too hungry this morning!"

He crept out from under the register, rumpled and shaken, his tiny overalls ripped, dust-bunnies quivering on his whiskers. I held my hand out to him and he crawled gratefully into my palm, curling into a ball of misery. Gently I cupped him while I opened the back door--oh it's still so dark at this early hour--it seemed cruel to put him out there somehow. But sure enough, as I approached MouseHouse, the door was open, just a little, a glimmer from the Walnut Woodstove shining out, and Sir Fivel sitting by it, his head in his hands. We parents are all the same when we're waiting for our youngun's to come home!

I raised little Bic to the edge of the eave..."Go see your daddy, young man... you've a few things to tell him this morning."

He scrambled off my hand, and still trembling, head hanging low, ran to his daddy's side. Sir Fivel's eyes lit up; he greeted his wandering boy with open arms, and then looked down at me with gratitude. "Thank you again, Mama Hare..." he mouthed in quiet gentlemanly fashion. I returned the smile.

We are all the same. Just grateful when our young make it home safely.
September 17, 2013
Stepping out on the back porch this morning was a sobering (and shivering) experience. The thermometer read a brrrr-ing 39 degrees. Thought I'd check on the few houseplants left out there and make sure they are still okay, although what I thought I could do for them now after they shivered and shuddered all night in the cold, I don't know! Note to self: bring the rest of the plants in--today!

About to retreat to the warm kitchen, I thought I heard the faintest of pleas, in a frightened high-pitched voice. "Please help... I'm stuck..." I spun around, looking for the source, and failed. Sounded like it came from one of the huge spider plants hanging near the screened deck door, but I couldn't be sure. Dear me, am I beginning to imagine things? I smiled to myself, and headed for the warm kitchen.

"Pleeeeeeeze... somebody help me..." I was sure I heard it that time. And yes, most definitely from deep inside the spider plant. Gently probing through the leaves, I searched, and sure enough, there he was... tiny Bic, one of the mouseling triplets, his wee overalls thoroughly fastened on a long leaf-spike. He trembled, cold and frightened, his snapping black eyes teary and fearful..."please ma'am... please help me. I just want to go home."

"Hang on, little one..." I assured him, "I won't hurt you. Let's get your overall strap freed from that leaf. Hang on to my finger now... hang on tight." Four tiny ice-cold feet grasped my finger trustingly, and held on. I slid him easily back up the leaf and brought him to my shoulder. "Now you just sit right there while I get the screen door open, and I'll bring you home to your folks... I won't ask what you're doing here in my porch and what you were doing out all night. Your mama must be worried sick!"

He hung his head in shame, but as held out my hand again, he jumped into my palm, and I lifted him gently up to Fivelina's front door under the eave; he turned to thank me most politely. Fivelina was waiting, worry creasing her brow, and, rushing her errant son into the toasty MouseHouse kitchen, she too extended a relieved thank you in a tired whispery mouse-voice.

I smiled reassuringly, knowingly. We mothers have to stick together.
September 16, 2013
Laundry day. The piles grow higher as the weather cools--guess our warmer things have more bulk. Of course it won't get done with me sitting here looking at it, so the sorting and sloshing, spinning and whirring begin. Have to say though, I'm thankful for my lot. Can you imagine the piles at MouseHouse on laundry day? Fivelina surely has her work cut out for her--all those little overalls and bloomers! You should see how neatly she hangs them to dry on the bittersweet vine that Fivel so lovingly strung up for her. Why, it's a marvel to behold! And even on a rainy day such as this, they flap safely in the breeze, tucked under the overhang. What a clever hubby she has, huh?

Oh there's the occasional mishap, seeing as she lacks enough clothespins, and I hear her calling to Bettina, "Please run down and fetch those overalls, dear. The wind snapped them right off the line again." And the Mouse-teen dutifully--well, sometimes at least--slides down the downspout, flips off the end, and retrieves them. Getting back up is a bit more challenging of course, carrying heavy wet overalls... but she is young and fit. Fivel takes note of the situation and sets himself down by the Walnut Woodstove and gets right to work wittling more clothespins for his lady-love.

My hubby is pretty clever too... he strung lines, years ago, across our covered, screened back porch, and things dry quickly out there even on the cloudiest days. Our garments aren't quite as charming as the Mouselings are, but... ah well.

The candle flickers on the stove as I pour another cuppa... must fortify myself before I get to work.
September 15, 2013

The still of a Sunday morning... a day of rest, a day of worship. All is quiet here at Hare Hollow. There's even a hush at MouseHouse this morning, albeit a chilly one. A thread of smoke from the Walnut Woodstove ribbons from the tiny hole in the eave, and with it the aroma of corn cakes sizzling on the tiny griddle that Sir Fivel brought home, a wonderful find-- those few pieces of discarded paper-clip. He skillfully wove them together, cleaned and polished the results, and presented it to Fivelina with shy reserve. I expect he knew well that, not only would she love it, he'd benefit too, and sure enough, he has the round little belly to show for it.

Ah, but lest I get side-tracked here... it is Sunday morning. I must be getting ready for God's day.
September 14, 2013

Daylight comes much later now, but the hubby and I venture out to the back porch in the dark even still, scruffy and bed-headed, bathrobe and slippers schlopping, mugs of coffee in hand--or in my case, tea. We settle in our back-porch recliners--yup, there really is such a thing--and sip our morning waker-uppers, staring out at the blackness beyond the screens. Funny how the darkness makes us whisper, ever notice that?

What's that scritching sound I hear? I look up in the general vicinity of MouseHouse and, in the lamplight shining out from the kitchen window, I can just barely see Fivelina's triplets playing hangle-dangle from the edge of the gutter! Goodness! My heart lurches--they are going to fall for sure! Funny how little ones have no fear sometimes.

Fivelina's scolds in a hearty mouse-whisper... Bitsy, Bic and Ben... you get your naughty selves right back in here and eat your cereal! If I've told you once, I told you a dozen times not to play out there in the dark. Come. Now. Let your father tell you about Spook Owl and what he'll do if he sees you out there! I smile again, remembering... Then wrap my hands more firmly about my mug of tea and take a nice long swallow.
September 13, 2013

Things at MouseHouse are quiet this morning. Wonder if they got about as much sleep as I did with all the thunder and strobe-lights last night. Hope they stayed dry up there under the eaves. Oh! There's Sir Fivel now.. what's that he's carrying. Of course, a small bundle of twigs for the stove. He's a tireless worker--I expect there's quite a stash by now. Seeing me standing there, he laid his bundle down, and with a particularly winsome mouse-smile, he winked, tipping his tiny cap jauntily. Such a gentleman.
September 12, 2013

So this sultry 72-degree morning I heard a lot of commotion out back, from just beneath the porch gutter to be exact. It was Fivelina (aka Mrs. Mouse) scolding her eldest about hanging around on their veranda (the little metal gutter-support) when there was so much work to be done in Mouse House. Teenagers. Just because it's summer today you think there's nothing else to do? Winter will be here before you know it, young lady, now you get back inside and finish polishing the walnut woodstove!

I smiled knowingly and slipped back in the house. Oh, the goings-on from Our Back Porch!

September 10, 2013

Sixty degrees this a.m.--whew! The winter jammies were a bit too warm by morning. Ah well... back to summer attire and yup, to my perch on the back porch, listening to raindrops on the roof. I think I heard Sir Fivel (aka Mr. Mouse) putting up a bit more insulation in their addition--the family expanded this year, y'know. And Mrs. Mouse--I think I heard a tiny quilting needle popping in and out of the cloth as she busily works on a new oak-leaf pocket quilt. Evidence left behind suggests she is stuffing each pocket with milkweed fluff before sewing them together. What a cozy cover those mouselings will have on a frosty January night! And oh the stories I can imagine sitting out here!

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