How appropriate on this tax deadline day—dark, wet, blustery and well, just plain miserable. I’m glad to be where it’s warm and dry, the tax business behind me, and a fresh hot cuppa beside me. The whole taxation thing has always puzzled me—not sure it is ever understandable, much less fair or just, but it is what it is, so I guess we just have to muddle through the best we can.
There is no taxation in the Village here at Hare Hollow. Each family works hard to provide for themselves, and what they can’t grow or make, they trade and barter for with their neighbors. Perhaps more notable though is the concept of helping others. It’s one that is duly taught and carefully practiced.
Miss Winklesnout’s wages are paid in goods and services by the parents of the children she educates, as are Doc Blinket’s. Even the Underground Channel which employs many Village members, is based on the barter system. Accounts are kept of items brought in for repurposing, hours spent in processing and goods taken in payment. Cash and coin don’t exist and greed is not in their vocabulary—what a refreshing concept.
Speaking of repurposing, Sir Fivel found the dearest miniature pram for the twins. Likely a doll-house castoff, it was remarkably dirty and worn, in need of a good refurbishing for sure, but when he and Olaf finished cleaning and sanding, painting and polishing, it was like new, and just the right size to bundle two tiny mouselings side-by-side for a walk in the sunshine. Betina outfitted it with a plump mattress made from a hand-sewn cover—pink of course, and stuffed with thistle-down. She embroidered tiny hearts all around the edge and made tiny pillows to match.
It’s much too rainy and blustery to take the babies out on this inclement day, and they are too wee just yet anyway. Why, they don’t even have their fur yet—baby mice are born without it, you see, so their mamas must take special care of them at first.
Last evening, Sir Fivel urged his lady-love out for a little evening stroll, eager to show her the surprise he had waiting—the beautiful new pram. While Bitsy and Betina rocked the twins, warm and snug inside MouseHouse, Sir Fivel escorted Fivelina along Eaves Walk to the little alcove under the overhang, where he’d parked the pram, safe from wind and weather.
“Ohhhh….” she exclaimed when she saw it. “Wherever did that come from… is that for the twins?”
His eyes twinkled with humor. “Do you like it?” he asked as her eyes filled with happy tears. (New moms are prone to tears you know, and by now he knew that too.)
“Oh thank you!” She turned to embrace him heartily. “ The babies can nap out here while I’m putting laundry on the lines, or just want to be out in the sunshine awhile.”
“Yes…” he smiled dotingly, gently wiping a tear from her cheek, “…and when they’re older, we can bring them into the Village so you can do your visiting or shopping at Underground Channel.”
“Or come to visit you and Olaf at the shop…” she quipped. They nuzzled noses, stealing a quiet moment, just the two of them, before heading back in to care for their family.
“I’ll be back in the morning, Mama…” Betina met them as they came in the door. She and Bret’s live across the roof at FrontPorch Settlement, of course and she was eager to get home to her own little nest for the night.
“The boys have done the supper dishes already, and Bitsy finished folding the dry nappies from the line. So don’t worry about anything else. I’ll take care of things tomorrow.”
“Thank you, dear…” Fivelina hugged her eldest in appreciation. “I am grateful for all you do…”
Helpful daughters, thoughtful neighbors, kind friends… I, too, am blessed with all of those. So as depressing as Tax Day may be, I am grateful for the things the Tax Man can’t (as yet anyway) take from us.