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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

September 23, 2014

Happy first day of Autumn!
Aw-tumm—now there’s a funny word, defined as a “time in the development of something that follows its most vigorous and successful phase, before its decline.” Yup. Guess that about wraps it up. Hence the leaf-showers even when the sun is shining. Past their successful phase, they’re going into decline. Literally. To the ground. Ugh.
So I guess that’s why the other term for this season—Fall, is synonymous and, you have to admit, a lot more descriptive of what really happens—falling leaves, withering grass, dying plants. Everything is falling, and I have to admit, so don’t my spirits! A spring and summer girl, I am—no question about it.
The good thing—and the one I need to hang on to—is the first part of that definition: “A time in the development of…” So it’s not really over. Roots are busy all winter, developing, stretching, reaching out and drinking deeply of the nourishment deep in the ground—all things that will continue growth and development come another Spring.
MouseHouse Village folks, on the other hand, adore Autumn. The abundance of leaves on the ground make for safe passage from place to place. Just grab a stem, tuck yourself under a leaf and zip to wherever you’re going. Perfect camouflage, and hey, on a windy day, if you’re little enough, maybe even a free flight to who-knows-where. Of course, that can be a problem since there’s no telling where you’ll land.
There was a lot of activity around Big Rock School yesterday, and after a little chat with Sir Fivel last evening, I learned the scoop. Seems an orphan mouseling was brought to Miss Winklesnout after being rescued by some observant on-lookers on their way to school. There, hiding under a large maple leaf, was a tiny grey mouseling, shivering and whimpering quietly. It was Bitsy that heard the plaintive sound.
“Sshh! Stop, you guys! Listen…” they all stopped.
“I don’t hear anything,” Ben said. “Come on… we’ll be late.”
Bitsy hung back, sure that she’d heard someone crying quietly. Sure enough. There it was again.
“Where are you…” she called out gently. “Show me where you are. I can help you.”
For a long time there was nothing, and just when she was about to catch up with the others, a wee gray nose and two tear-filled black eyes peered out from under a leaf.
“I don’t know where my mama is…” a small voice squeaked. “I’m so cold and hungry and I don’t know what to do.”
Bitsy bent down, holding out a hand. “Come with me, I’ll take you to Miss Winklesnout, our teacher. She’ll know what to do. Can you get up? Are you hurt?”
“I don’t think so… but Cat kept grabbing me around my tummy, its sore. And I’m so hungry and cold…”
“Yes… I know. Come. We’ll get you in where it’s warm, and I’m sure we can find some food too.”
Off they went, hand-in-hand. Bitsy noted that the little gray mouseling’s dress was badly torn, and she had no outer clothing at all. Bitsy slipped out of her warm sweater, wrapped it around the little one’s shoulders.
“Here, this’ll warm you up until we get inside…”
Miss Winklesnout was immediately concerned. “Oh my dear girl, whatever happened to you…”
The little mouse told of a terrible night of terror, running from one hiding place to the next, and being nabbed several times by Cat in the process.
“I couldn’t find my way home…” fresh tears welled up as she recalled. “I don’t know where home is now… and I just want my mama.”
Miss Winklesnout bent down, wrapping the little girl in her arms. “There, there. We’ll try hard to find your mama…”
Sobs began anew. “B-b-b-but… you don’t understand… I’m afraid Cat got her, and my brothers and sisters too. One by one they’ve been disappearing, night after night. That’s why I was out of our nest that night… Mama didn’t come back, and I went looking for her.”
“Oh my dear child… I’m so sorry.”
All the children gathered about, some of them crying now too, horrified by what they’d learned. Some of them gently patted her back, all of them struck silent.
Miss Winklesnout knew it was important to get everyone calmed down and back into routine. “Well for now, let’s find some warm, dry clothes for… what is your name, dear?”
“I’m Tina…” she replied through a small hiccup.
“Class… this is Tina. Now who has an extra sweater hanging in the coat-room?” Several hands went up.
“Now the rest of you, back to your desks and your morning work, please.”
She brought little Tina to the wash-room. Bathed her face and hands in warm water, and checked her over for any wounds. Finding none, she helped her into an oversized, but nonetheless clean-warm-dry paint smock from the art room, then over that a cozy sweater along with some over-large slouchy socks that fell down nearly as soon as they were pulled up, but they too were dry and warm.
“Now let’s see if we can find you something to eat.” Off to the lunchroom they went where Miss Winklesnout made a seed-butter and berry sandwich and brewed a cup of rose-hip tea to ward off a chill and soothe the nerves of this tiny orphan.
“There’s a board meeting called for tonight…” Sir Fivel finished telling me of the situation. “So we’ll see who can take in the poor little child… who knows, we have a houseful already, but if need be…” He scratched the I-don’t-know spot, there, just under his cap.
“Oh my! I’m sorry to hear of this… poor little thing!”
And I should be worried about falling leaves?

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