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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

April 5, 2014

So I was lying in bed the other night (actually reclining on several pillows since, with this nasty virus, I couldn’t breathe lying flat) trying to fall asleep. Between swabbing a raw-red drippy nose, catching brain-rattling sneezles in a tissue, and trying to suck on a cough-drop to ease a dry mouth and sore throat, need I say sleep was rather elusive. Mouth-breathing definitely isn’t conducive to peaceful slumber! Nor is a stuffed head, aching body, dripping nose and—well, you get the picture.
As the hours passed, along with several cups of tea, and every other remedy I could think of, this great question popped into my mind: I wonder what it sounds like to hear a mouseling sneeze? (Oh, the marvelous things we ponder in the wee hours of the morning!) Well, it got me to thinking about MouseHouse and how everyone is doing this week. Turns most of The Village has had this miserable flu-bug going around—even the creatures aren’t immune to winter nasties! Bic and Ben started it at MouseHouse, then little Betina, and finally Olaf and Fivel. So far Fivelina has escaped it.
Bic, Ben and Bitsy had milder versions of it, all of them abed for a day or so with the sneezles and snortles, but Bic and Ben were back to school and into their usual shenanigans in no time. Bitsy took a bit longer, but she too was soon back to normal. Olaf however, being the strapping young fellow that he is, didn’t want to give in. He continued to work through the misery as did Sir Fivel. Fivelina urged herb teas and medicinal tinctures on them for several nights, and they obligingly took them before bed, but still the symptoms worsened.
All was quiet one night, everyone tucked snug in their bunks, Fivel snoring his quiet rumbling mouse-snore, Fivelina curled up beside him, covers over her ear. The triplets were all sound asleep; only Olaf was awake, in his bunk, but yes—very much awake. His throat burned, his eyes and nose dripped and the sneezles—well, they seemed to come from his very feet! So great was the force of one that his feet flew up, bumping the underneath of Ben’s bunk, hard enough to fling the unsuspecting boy-mouse right out of his bed onto the floor with a thump. Ben jumped up, shook himself a few times, and, still sleep-sunned, looked at Olaf, “Whad’ya do that fer …?” Bic woke up and peered down from the top bunk. "What's the matter guys...?" The commotion awakened Fivelina and she rushed to investigate. “What’s going on here…” she asked sleepily.
“Ah… my ‘eer danty… I mean my dear auntie… I’m so sorry to wake you and hupset the ‘ousehold, er… upset the household,” he rasped hoarsely. And before he could get any more said, a series of violent sneezes took hold.
“Say no more, Olaf. Come with me. Right now…” She led him to the living room, pointing to the rocking chair. “Sit.”
‘Ben, Bic… back to bed…” she whirled around, pointing them in that direction. “Right this minute.”
By now, Bitsy and Sir Fivel had joined the curious. “What’s all the ruckus out here…?” Fivel asked. Olaf attempted to explain, but was quickly silenced by a look—the look, the one no one dared question.
“This…” she pointed to a shivering, coughing, sneezing mound of misery huddled in the rocker, “…is what happens when you big strong invincible carpenters think you have to go off to work no matter what, even when you're sick and your bodies are screaming at you to rest. And do you? No. You force yourselves to keep going, ignoring your ills until you get so sick it wakes the whole house up! You keep the doctors busy and you lose more work from letting yourselves get so sick before you listen!”
Five pairs of eyes widened at her outburst. Mama never got angry… but when she did. Oh dear. “Now, go back to bed, all of you, and let me see what I can do to fix the damages here. I’m going to boil some water and get some herbs from the pantry. When I come back I want you all in your beds… do I make myself clear?”
Wide-eyed and worried, Bitsy slid quietly behind her curtain-door, and crawled back in her bed. Poor Mama! Bitsy wished she could help, but knew better than to second-guess her Mama. Ben and Bic were in their bunks lickity-split, but both had a terrible case of the giggles thinking about Ben’s bouncing flight out of bed because of Olaf’s sneeze. Fivelina went to their door and merely cleared her throat. The giggling ceased and all was quiet. Sir Fivel quietly got a fire going in Walnut Woodstove, filled the kettle with water, then he too wisely retreated to bed.
Fivelina came from the pantry, arms full of dried herbs and a jar of mustard powder. She filled a basin with the boiling water, adding enough cold to make it comfortable, then stirred a bit of mustard powder into it. “Put your feet right in that basin, young fellow…” she instructed more calmly and gently now. “It’ll pull the cold right out of you, and help the chills stop too.”
“Yes, ma’am… thank you. Again, I’m so sorry…”
“Hush, Olaf. No talking. Your poor throat is so raw and irritated you may not be able to talk for a month! Now just do what I tell you. And let it be known right now, you are not going to work in the morning. Do you understand?” He nodded miserably.
She draped a towel over his feet in the basin to keep the water warm longer, then went to the stove to make a healing tea.
“Drink this…” she brought the steaming cup to him… “every last drop! It’ll bring down your fever and soothe your chest too. And while you’re drinking it, I’ll make up a bed for you here on the couch where you won’t disturb the boys if you need to sneeze or cough.”
He was soon bundled in warm quilts on the couch, pillows under his head and tucked in tightly. Fivelina slipped back into bed quietly so as not to wake Fivel.
As she settled herself, a warm hand reached over and began to stroke her back gently, soothingly. “Go back to sleep, my love…” he whispered. And she did.
So tell me… have you ever heard a mouse sneeze? Can’t say that I have, but as I pondered these deep matters, I did fall asleep for a couple of hours in the recliner.

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