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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Field Trips and Adventures...

October 7, 2015
Back from our annual trek to Pine Acres, I am bone-weary and heart-warmed all at the same time. The washer is sloshing, the dryer humming as load-after-load shuffles and tumbles, buttons and zippers clinking against the dryer drum. And as they finish, I am shuffling too, pile-after-pile of folded bedding, warm fluffy towels and freshly cleaned jammies and shirts, down the hallway to various closets and drawers. My-oh-my, there’s a lot to bring for six days at the cabin, and it feels like even more to bring home!
The bins and tote-bags are emptied, stored away until next year, and all the little what-knots too, tucked away in their places. Did I mention bone-weary?
Well, I should talk! Miss Winklesnout has had quite the adventure these past days, you see, deciding quite at the last minute to take a number of her school children with her on a field trip. Where? Well, to Pine Acres of course!
“Do you think we could ride along with you, Ma’am?” she inquired just a day before we left. “I’ll only bring the best-behaved in my class and only those that have permission from their parents. We can stay in our own accommodations, Ma’am, if you can just spare a small shoe-box for us. And we won’t bother you a bit.”
At a loss for words, I considered the possibilities, pros and cons.
“How will you keep track of all of them, Miss Winklesnout?” I asked politely. “That’s a huge responsibility for both of us, don’t you think?”
“Yes, Ma’am. You’re right, but it is also a wonderful opportunity for them to learn about the bigger world beyond Hare Hollow Woods. As I said, I will only take the best behaved among them, those I know I can trust to listen and obey me.”
So with trepidation I agreed. Down in the cellar, I found an old shoe box, emptied it of its contents and cut a small flap for a doorway along with two small windows in the sides so they’d have air-flow. In the box-of-boxes I found several tiny gift boxes (brooch size) complete with the usual cotton batting liners. They’d make cozy beds for little mouselings camping away from home!
Sure enough on Thursday morning Miss Winklesnout had everyone at the ready, eight little mouselings including Bic and Ben. The thought crossed my mind—only the best behaved? But I didn’t go there.
Each carried a tiny satchel filled with their extra bloomers and fuzzies, and a blanket for nighttime folded neatly over their arm. They stood in line, quietly waiting to be told where to board Mama Hare’s Express-to-Pine-Acres-Mobile.
Miss Winklesnout also carried a small satchel, and behind her, she rolled a small re-purposed Altoids tin that had been outfitted with tiny wheels and a handle.
“Snacks for the children…” she explained when she saw me eyeing it.
I smiled knowingly. These little creatures think of everything!
“All aboard!” I spoke smartly, and eight little furry mouselings, along with their excited teacher, hopped into the car, then up into the back window where they snuggled close together between the bag of pillows and a tissue box.
“Hang on tight…!” I called as we set off down the lane to the highway. And they did.
An hour later, after only a little giggling and chattering from the rear, we arrived at our cabin. On the way I’d told Miss Winklesnout about the shoe-box camper with it's windows and flapping door. She was delighted to say the least.
“Thank you, Ma’am. How thoughtful of you!”
Turned out, that little shoe-box would be a much needed cozy shelter for the little travelers.
As the rest of my family arrived, we helped each other unload and unpack, setting up our kitchens and making up beds, finding storage places for our clothes and settling in. And Miss Winklesnout did the same. I placed the shoe-box on the screened porch so they could come and go as they needed to, but would have good protection from the elements and enemies as well.  It didn’t take her long to set up the little box-beds, side-by-side, with their colorful blankets spread out and tucked in, satchels beside each one. Then they were off to find food for their lunch and supper. They wouldn’t have to search for long. Acorns and other delicacies abound at Pine Acres.We knew because they pinged off the metal roof of the cabins day and night!
That evening the temps dipped down into the forties and I worried about the miniature campers out on the porch, so long about bed-time, I peeked out to check on them.
“Miss Winklesnout?” I inquired quietly in case some of the mouselings were already asleep.
“Yes, Ma’am…?” she poked her head out the doorway.
“Are you warm enough in there? It’s pretty chilly tonight. Would you like me to cover the box with a towel to hold in some heat?”
“Oh, don’t trouble yourself, Ma’am…” she replied with a little shiver in her voice. “I’m sure we’ll be fine, but if you have one handy I’m sure it would help.”  I did, and tucking it around the box, leaving an overhang by the doorway to stop the drafts, I went back inside, thankful for my own warm bed.
Next morning, I put out a bit of hot water in a metal measuring spoon so Miss Winklesnout could have her chicory. She looked a bit harried, I have to admit, but seemed most thankful for the courtesy. Little squeaks and titters were testament to a rowdy bunch of mouselings, ready for a day of adventure. She on the other hand looked like she needed a good hot cuppa. Perhaps you saw her picture on my FB page a few days ago, enjoying that cuppa along with a sugar donut?
To be continued…