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Monday, September 21, 2015

Stowaways in the Kettle...

     Monday at MouseHouse is laundry day just as it is here in the big house. Fivelina had theirs out on Bittersweet Vine-line bright and early, even before the sun was up. Little bloomers and over-alls dance merrily in the breeze along with her pretty dresses and aprons, and Sir Fivel’s knickers and vests.
     Now, mind you, it’ll be a day-long chore for her. Before long, she’ll be hauling them back in, off the line, folding and smoothing just so before bringing them in to tuck away in respective bureaus, or hang on hanging hooks.
     I saw her brushing one of Sir Fivel’s caps vigorously with a tiny bristled brush—apparently a repurposed make-up brush cut down to size. The dust flew and soon the cap was hanging out on the line too, to freshen in the sunshine.
     Me. I’m a little slower getting the laundry processed this morning—only one load so far dancing in the breeze on BackPorch lines. But I’ve been otherwise occupied, you see.
     Our annual family trek to the beautiful Pine Acres is coming up soon, and I’ve started gathering the many household things we’ll need. While it’s a cottage, and lovely as can be, all our bedding and linens, kitchen needs and cottage comforts come from home. So indeed, it’s an undertaking. The list-making began last year when we were wrapping up the last trip—things not to over-look next time and such.
     We’ve already noted that the weather forecast for that week calls for night-time temps in the low 40’s, daytime highs only in the 60’s. And seeing as we’ll be right by the water, I suspect there’ll be plenty of breezes. So the lists have altered a bit from summer gear to autumn snugglies. So while I’ve been busy gathering, stashing and checking off my lists, that’s not all. I’ve had some unsolicited help, you see.  
     I keep a special tea-kettle just for camping. It perches on the cellar-pantry top shelf all year until camping time, when I bring it upstairs, wash and dry it, and then fill it full of tea bags, the honey jar, and whatever else is small enough to fit inside—it pays to pack smartly and save all the room we can.
     So said tea-kettle was thoroughly packed and ready, sparkling in the morning sunshine there on my counter top. In passing, I caught that peripheral-something that just catches one’s eye somehow, that little oddity that can’t help but warrant a second glance. Nope. Just my imagination, I reasoned.
     Second trip past with my arms full of wet clothes to hang on the line, there—I saw it again. Only this time I was sure of it, and sure enough, on second look I spied two beady eyes sparkling in the sunlight, peeking out the spout of the kettle.
     “Okay, you!” I exclaimed. “Out with you! You’ll get packed into the trunk of the car and be stuck there for days. If you think your mama will like that—you  disappearing and worrying her to pieces, well, I think we better have a talk with her!”
     I opened the lid of the kettle and who scrambled out but—yep, you guessed it—our mischievous Bic. But wait! He wasn’t alone. As I set him free, he giggled and pointed to another roly-poly scoundrel peeking out the end of the aluminum foil tube in the pots-and-pans bag.  
     “Hey, you two! How come you’re not in school today?” I inquired.
     “Miss Winklesnout has a bad cold and Betina couldn’t teach us today. So we have the day off.” Ben offered reasonably, brushing some loose tea dust off his shirt. He sneezed then, looking up at me sheepishly. "Sorry Ma'am... I didn't mean to sneeze on your tea-bags."
     “You're excused. And tell me, does your mama knows you’re in here getting into the luggage this morning?” I hid a smile. How can you keep a straight face after witnessing a mouse-sneeze?!
      “No, Ma’am…” he hung his head sadly. “She sent us out to gather acorns for the larder…”
     “We meant no harm,” Bic added. “Please don’t be angry, Ma’am. We’ll get right to work now.”
     I held out my hand to each of them. Both hopped on for a ride to Downspout Staircase.
    “This’ll be our little secret, boys…" I whispered conspiratively as they hopped off, "...but yes, you need to gather up your baskets and go do as your mama told you. No more games!”
      "Yes Ma'am... thank you."
     Back in the kitchen I remind myself to check each bag and parcel carefully as I load the car over the next few days. Now that the secret is out—Pine Acres ahead—I’ll need to watch for little stowaways.
Now where did I put those clothespins?

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