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Saturday, August 22, 2015

August 22, 2015

There was such a commotion in the attic at Hare Hollow Thursday night. It had me quite concerned. Had something serious happened up there? I could hardly wait till daylight to inquire at Sir Fivel’s front door.
Little Bitsy answered when I tapped lightly.
“Good morning, Mama Hare…” she squeaked in her sweet little mouse-voice.
“Good morning, Bitsy. Is everything okay with you all? I heard a lot of noise over-head during the night.”
Her eyes twinkled and she wasn’t quite able to hide a mischievous smile. 
“Let me get Mama for you… please wait a minute.”  She dashed away leaving the door ajar.
Fivelina appeared, already dressed, looking ready-for-the-day despite the early hour.
“Good morning, Ma’am… Bitsy said we disturbed you last night. Please accept our apologies. I can’t explain just now, but would you kindly settle yourself in your usual BackPorch chair?” she implored with a respectful but unmistakable twinkle in her own eyes.
“We have a little surprise for you but we’re not all quite  put together here.”
“A surprise?” I echoed. “Well, I guess so… sure. I’ll just go make my tea and then sit awhile.” As I thought it over, my emotions shifted from concern to puzzlement.
It’s quiet at this early hour on BackPorch as is always the case by late August. The Village creatures are still tucked in. No more early morning songs of courtship and query. Now they work hard each day, gathering-and-storing, padding winter homes with extra insulation for the winter ahead, and adding rooms for new family members. They tuck into bed at sunset, weary from their pursuits, and when a new day begins, the process repeats.
So I sit quietly too, sipping from my cuppa, and admiring the hazy green mist on Hare Hollow woods this sultry morning. I hear some titters and giggles from Gutter Veranda, but from where I sit, I can’t see the source. Still, I smile in anticipation.
I also notice the grass moving near Big Rock School area, and can just barely see through the haze a little group of excited mouselings bouncing about while someone—I assume it must be Miss Winklesnout—attempts to quiet them. I grab the binoculars. Sure enough, it is the kindly school-marm herself and by now she has them all lined up and marching proudly up to Downspout Staircase. My curiosity piques. School isn’t in session yet, I wonder what is going on!
Just then Sir Fivel appeared on BackPorch Railing, jumping up on the post finial right outside the screen door. He was dressed in his usual finery: blue knickers, a finely pressed white shirt, and his favorite plaid vest along with his ever-present cap which, at this moment, he doffed at me.
“Good morning, Ma’am. Thank you for taking the time to listen to our production this morning. Please let me present the MouseHouse Village Singers. We have a very special tribute for you.”
I stood then to open the door so I could see them better, smiling in wonderment as a line of little mouselings proceeded, in perfection formation, along the railing to the post where Sir Fivel stood, now facing them. Miss Winklesnout brought up the rear, gently helping the littlest ones maneuver the tricky descent from Downspout Stairway onto the porch.
They too were dressed in their finest… the wee girls in tiny dresses with ribbon bows tied so demurely and fluffy bloomers beneath, and the boys with their knickers and shirts tucked in neatly complete with bow-ties. And each carried a carefully handcrafted, brightly colored letter above their heads. I could see as they all lined up carefully that these letters, combined, spelled out ‘Happy Birthday Mama Hare.’
There was some shuffling and giggling as the last ones assembled, but with a few stern looks from the teacher and Sir Fivel, order was soon restored.
He held up his hands as though to conduct an orchestra, and then gave them the 1-2-3 to start their song. In the sweetest, highest pitch you can imagine, those many little voices were raised in harmony with the most adorable rendition of Happy Birthday I ever did hear!
Touched to the core, I listened, teary-eyed and smiling till it was over. I clapped merrily and thanked them all, but before I could finish, Sir Fivel held up a wait-a-minute hand.
“There’s more, Ma’am…” he assured.
Sure enough, along came Fivelina and Betina, their grown daughter, carrying a carefully wrapped package between them. It was swathed in pale pink silk, tied beautifully with a satin ribbon that held the froth in place.  I knew they’d taken great pains, not only to find the wrappings, but to assemble it so tastefully.
The children on the railing each stepped back to let them pass, and soon they were just in front of me. Fivelina, also dressed in her prettiest frock, spoke:
“Mama Hare, we want to wish you a very happy birthday. We also want to thank you for your kindness and patience with us. We appreciate all that you do for us and especially for allowing us to share your home. Please accept this little gift as a token of our love for you.”
She held out the package and I accepted it with gratitude.
Carefully I untied the bow, gently laid the pink silk aside, and there in the center was a tiny cameo brooch, repurposed of course, but meticulously cleaned, shined and polished.
“Thank you. Thank you all for this lovely surprise! I am delighted. And thank you all for your kindness. We—Papa Hare and I—appreciate your respectfulness and politeness as our woodland guests. May we have another good year together.”
With that, all the little mouselings clapped and cheered. Then they turned and filed away in orderly manner albeit punctuated with more giggles and titters. Sir Fivel and Fivelina stayed.
“We’re sorry to have disturbed you last evening,” the mouse gentleman said quietly. “The children were finishing up their letters and well… you know how it goes when you get a whole bunch of them together.”
I smiled knowingly. “No harm done, Fivel. It was well worth the little disturbance to see this marvelous production this morning. Thank you again for your thoughtfulness. You have indeed made my birthday very special.
He bowed low, again doffing his cap. “Our pleasure, Ma’am…” and with that he took his lady’s hand and they proceeded up the Downspout Staircase, waving as they stepped onto Gutter Veranda and into their front door in the eave.
Yes, it was indeed a Happy Birthday.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

August 21, 2015




And Mattie and MaisieMae too!

August 20, 2015

August 20, 2015
Turning the corner from the main road to our long, winding lane, the now-eager mouse-gentleman stood tall at the side of my head rest, holding on tight against the car's motion.
"The air smells familiar, Ma'am... are we almost home?" he asked politely.
“Yes, Fivel. We’re nearly home. Are you anxious?”
“Oh Ma’am… you have no idea! I don’t know what poor Fivelina will say… and the children, they must all be worried to pieces after all this time.”
We eased into the driveway and as soon as the engine stopped, I turned face to him. “Would you like me to bring you through the house to BackPorch so there’ll be no more delay getting to your family?” From driveway to BackPorch is a fair distance when you're three inches high, and weary from traveling.
“Much obliged, Ma’am…” he accepted gratefully as he hopped onto my shoulder.
Out on BackPorch, I opened the screened door and lifted him gently up to Gutter Veranda, and then watched him tap gently on MouseHouse door. Fivelina answered and the look on her face when she saw her beloved was well worth the wait.
No words, just joyful tears and an embrace that was soon joined by five jubilant mouselings. He pulled away long enough to gaze into his lady’s eyes, and gently brushed the tears from her cheeks.
I backed away, wanting to give them their privacy, but not before I saw him step back thru the doorway, look down at me and tip his cap. “Thank you, Ma’am. Thank you ever so much. Family is everything.”
Yes Sir Fivel, it is. It surely is.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

August 19, 2015

Sir Fivel tucked himself away soon after we arrived at the motel that afternoon, curling up inside one of my fluffy black slippers. I was relieved to know he was safe now and that we’d get him back home to his family on the morrow.
So leaving him to rest and recuperate from his adventures, we made ourselves a quick supper and then headed back for the night service.
Later, we sat snug in our jammies, there in our little suite, sipping bedtime tea. I’d left my slippers where they sat earlier, assuming the weary mouse-gentleman was still asleep.
While my daughter and I discussed the highlights of the day, I noticed a dark-something inching its way through the bedroom door—one black slipper propelling itself across the floor! Further investigation revealed two little mouse feet trudging along—step-tug-step, the slipper held high above his head, the rest of him hidden beneath it.
“Sir Fivel!” I exclaimed, more shrilly than I meant to.
The slipper tipped over on its side and a woeful whiskered face appeared... “Sorry Ma’am… I didn’t mean to sleep so long and take your slipper from you. I meant to get it back to you…” He tugged on his vest to straighten it, then folding his hands across his rotund little belly he continued.
“Guess you want the story now, huh? Well, you see, Ma’am… I was collecting spider webs for Fivelina the other afternoon, she uses them to baste her Oak Leaf quilts, you know, and I saw these fluffy black slippers hanging on your clothesline. I was so tired, I thought I’d just slip into one for a short nap. I had no idea you were planning to pack them for your trip! You don’t usually wear these, do you?”
I shook my head. “No, you’re right, Fivel… I only wear them when I’m traveling.”
He scratched his head in confusion. “Ohhhh…”
“Go on…” I encouraged.
“Well, next thing I knew I was stuck inside this dark, stuffy place and couldn’t get out. It was so black in there, and for such a long time. I tried and tried to get out, but couldn’t find a way. Soon the whole place began moving, I tumbled around and bumped into things, and still it was so dark! I heard engine sounds and felt that we were moving for hours. Oh Ma’am, I was dreadful scared!”
Yep. I surely had left those slippers on the line overnight. Who would’ve thought!
“You were in the slipper when I packed them into the suitcase. Oh dear. I’m so sorry, Fivel. I never would’ve thought to check. And yes, it would’ve been mighty dark in that suitcase, and you’d surely get an awful jouncing when Papa Hare loaded the luggage in the trunk. Yes, it must’ve been a terribly long hard trip stuck in there in the dark. I’m so sorry you had to go through all that!”
He jumped up on the arm of the chair, patting my hand soothingly. “Oh no, Ma’am. It’s entirely my fault. I should never have snuck into that slipper in the first place.”
He searched my face for understanding, then kindly added, “Would you like your slippers now, Ma’am?”
“Thank you, no…” I assured him. I’ve nice warm socks on and I don’t need them right now.  Do you feel like telling me how you got over to the convention today?”
He blushed slightly. “Well, that’s even more embarrassing, Ma’am. Are you sure you want to know?”
I nodded encouragingly.
“Well, I stayed here in your motel the first day, and it was so lonely and I was feeling so worried for Fivelina—what she must be thinking when I didn’t come home that night! I thought if I just stayed quiet and didn’t bother anyone, I could hop into your purse and ride home unnoticed, and no one would ever know of my foolishness. But when I saw you were staying for Friday too, I couldn’t bear staying here alone all day. So I crept into the pocket of your tote-bag so I could go with you to wherever you were going.  If I’d just stayed near you, it would’ve been fine, but I wandered around a bit, you see…” He wrung his hands anxiously with the memory.
“And then I couldn’t find you or the tote-bag anywhere. I looked and looked, but there were just so many strange feet and noisy people. Then everyone left, and it was so dark in there when they shut off all the lights that night. I spent the night under some stranger’s chair-pad…”
I murmured in sympathy. “Well, I’m glad you finally found me, and hey, that was pretty slick finding your way to the tote-bag through all the feet while everyone was praying!”
He grinned slightly and then chortled. Now have you ever heard a mouse chortle? It’s a most delightful little sound actually, and it was a relief to see him more light-hearted now.
“Well, here’s the plan. We have one more service tomorrow morning, and then we leave for Hare Hollow. Don't be getting into my suitcase, okay? You can find a much more comfortable place for the ride home."
He rode home with us, snugly tucked into a fluffy black slipper that surely didn’t get put in the suitcase that time.
And oh the reunion at MouseHouse! You can only imagine!

August 18, 2015

We enjoyed good weather on our 4-day trip. All but Saturday afternoon that is. Mid-afternoon brought menacing dark skies and flashes of lightening punctuated by deep grumbles of thunder. It didn’t hinder the afternoon service, mind you, but there was a noticeable stir—especially among those sitting near the big open doors, as the lightening bolts danced nearby.
At one resounding clap of thunder a worried, whiskered face appeared, wide-eyed and anxious, at the corner of my tote bag. I smiled reassuringly, but shook my head, silently conveying that he should remain calm and not bolt from his safe-at-last spot.
Just as the service ended, the rain began to roar, pelting everything in sight. Some folks braved the trip from meeting room to dining areas by doubling up under umbrellas. We, however, left our three—yes, three umbrellas in the car. Wonderful help they were there! So we waited.
After a time, the storm abated and we twinkle-toed our way through the wet grass en route to the car. “Hang on tight, Sir Fivel”… I called quietly as I sprinted, knowing I was jouncing the jollies right out of the poor little guy.
In the car, I set the tote bag on the floor by my feet as my daughter proceded to drive us back to the motel. Expecting our little friend to climb out quickly once we were alone, I was troubled when he didn’t.
“Sir Fivel…?” What if he’d fallen out of the tote-bag during our daring dash! I began gingerly removing things one-by-one.
“You in there, my hapless friend?” I cajoled worriedly. No answer. “Ohhh no!” I whined quietly. “What’ll we do if he fell out and he’s back there in that field somewhere…”
Just then a rumpled, frazzled, whiskered mouse-gentleman, climbed out from the pocket of my sweater buried deep in bottom of the bag.
“Ma’am?” he rasped “…is it safe to come out now?”
“Yes, Sir Fivel… you’re safe now. “We’re in the car riding back to the motel. You can stay there with us for the night and we’ll take you home tomorrow.”
Relief washed over him. He climbed the rest of the way out, limping slightly as he settled himself there in the cup-holder. He adjusted his twisted knickers, straightened his vest with purpose, then carefully spit-groomed his bedraggled whiskers and then, as though he’d suddenly remembered his manners, he turned to me.
“Thank you, Ma’am. Thank you for saving my life. I have a family, you know… well, of course you know, but oh dear…” he couldn’t continue. After rubbing his eyes furiously, he went back to grooming his whiskers before adding, “Fivelina and the children must be so worried…” Tears sparkled in his eyes.
Now, mind you, even respectable mouse-gentlemen don’t have cell phones or any phones for that matter. We take a lot for granted, don’t we?
“Try not to fret now…” I reassured. “Fivelina has been through hard times before, she’ll get past this one too… and after all, you are safe now, and you’ll be going home tomorrow. By the way, do you want to tell me how you got into this predicament?” I queried.
“Ohhh Ma’am… it’s very complicated. I’m so embarrassed. I’m not sure how to say it…”
More tomorrow…

August 17, 2015

I reunited with a dear friend this past weekend, both of us at a Christian gathering in NY along with a few hundred others. Typically the tone is one of respectful sobriety, but between services we do chat and visit. She mentioned the MouseHouse stories and said she really looked forward to them and when did I plan to write more. While we sat there giggling about some of the antics of that beloved clan, she commented with her lovable, hearty laugh, “Marji, I’m not sure if you’re touched or just creative.”
Well, dear Jan, a little of both, I suspect. And as we spoke, there atop the speaker system beside the podium, and a fair distance from where we sat, I noticed a little gray-brown blur scurry behind the wires as someone approached. Sure that my eyes deceived me, and it was merely the fact that we’d been discussing these dear little creatures, I didn’t call attention to it of course. And well, you never know how some folks will react to seeing a mouse, even one as well-behaved as members of MouseHouse clan, but I have to admit I was puzzled.
From that distance I couldn’t be sure it was any I knew, and being a farm area where we were, there was bound to be cousins and distant relatives of my beloved friends, but no, it couldn’t be any from MouseHouse.
I glanced again. Sure enough, a jaunty cap, then two beady black eyes peeked out from between the wires. Coast was clear, so he climbed up the rest of the way, looking around, quite worriedly. The little plaid cap and matching vest over his very best pair of blue knickers was a dead give-away. Yup. Sir Fivel alright. He saw more people approaching, and quickly ducked back down again.
Now Jan had to hurry on to see some other friends, so we said our goodbyes before I casually walked up to the front of the room, nearer said-speaker.
“Sir Fivel?” I whispered. “It’s me, Mama Hare… how ever did you get up here, so far from home?”
Now mind you, if anyone had come along at that moment, and noticed me talking to the back of a speaker, up there at the podium where no one belonged but the folks who’d be leading the next service, well, I’m quite sure there’d be some deep concerns for my sanity! Thankfully, no one was nearby except a worried mouse gentleman who was mighty glad to see me.
“Ma’am! Oh dear-dear! I’ve been searching and searching for you, but I didn’t know where you might be. I’m in terrible trouble. You see, I was…” Suddenly his eyes looked past me and with panic evident in his glance, he disappeared behind the speaker again.
Another of my dear friends was approaching.Seeing me standing up there at the front, all alone, or so she thought, she came to say hello. So we embraced and chatted awhile, though I have to say I was somewhat distracted knowing my little friend, Sir Fivel was in such jeopardy.
People were starting to trickle back in to find their seats, and soon the room would be chock full and the next service would begin. There was nothing for me to do but go to my own seat as well.
It was during prayer that I felt something brush by the side of my foot ever so softly. Opening my eyes to investigate, I just saw the backside of those tell-tale blue knickers, along with a long pink tail, disappearing into my tote-bag.
Smart thinking! I smiled to myself. Scurry between the many pairs of feet when most folks had their eyes shut in prayer! He must’ve noted, from behind his perch, exactly where I went to sit down, and then found his way there, darting between shoes and other tote bags until he got to row 7 where I was seated.
While the service continued, I peeked now-and-then inside the tote-bag and there, tucked into my tissue pack was a weary, just plum-tuckered-out gray-brown mouse gentleman. He’d hung his cap neatly on the inside zipper-pull, then wrapped himself tightly into the tissue folds and promptly went to sleep. His whiskers twitched now and then, but his eyes were tightly closed and I thought, at one point, that I heard just the tiniest snort. Hey... we all snore sometimes! And he wasn't at all obstrusive.
I couldn’t wait to get back to the motel, tote-bag and all, so I could hear the story as to how he got from MouseHouse Village in CT to Albany NY! Now this ought to be a good one…
To be continued…

August 4, 2015

The Mysterious Night-Guest…
Out watering the gardens these last few weeks, I’ve noticed something peculiar— carefully dug-out areas in the cedar mulch just the size of a smallish animal. The mulch is carefully pushed aside, the soil beneath patted down smooth as you please, and there in the dirt is a perfect imprint of a curled-up, snoozing something. The spot is long-abandoned by daylight of course, but easily recognizable as a resting spot.
What it could be, I wonder… a stray kitty perhaps, or a skunk—though if it is, she most graciously leaves no scent. Could be a little fox or even a roly-poly woodchuck, but whoever it is, the location is different every night. The little dug-outs appear here and there in the front gardens, then later near Potting Shed gardens, and even at the edge of the garden boxes.
I suspect that along with a cushy bed, tucked safely under the now-towering plants and blooms, this little night-guest is also dining sumptuously—there have been noticeably fewer chipmunks in my flower beds this year, and the mole-mounds have all but disappeared.
Oh my! I must warn the MouseHouse clan! Then again, as careful as they are about such matters, they are likely well aware.
Meanwhile, the mysterious night-guest remains, polite and tidy, mind-you, but leaving little imprints of evidence here and about. It keeps me guessing, but then, maybe that’s the idea?

July 23, 2015

Waning July. The gardens, though still beautiful, are showing signs of weariness. Weeds, on the other hand, are lush and robust, boldly crowding in among the carefully cultivated blooms. No matter how much time I spend tugging and tossing them, in a matter of days, there they are again—imposters, pretending to be something they’re not.
Ever notice that? The weeds that grow near certain flowers have a similar look to the cultivated plant? Of course it’s the bloom (or lack of) that tells the tale.
Good spiritual lesson there. We can grow near the nurtured plants, pretend to be drawing from the Source, but it’s the blossoming and fruitfulness that speak the truth.
Ah well. It’s late July, time for trimming shrubs and weeding places that seem least likely to support any kind of green. I speak of driveway cracks and pavement edges, the dark stony under-porch spaces where nothing should grow. Yet there they are. Well, I guess there’s another lesson in that—bloom where you’re planted.
BackPorch is still our favorite spot in the early morning hours, but already the dawn is markedly delayed—the daylight hours have, by late July, diminished considerably.
Hare Hollow Woods is a bit quieter as well, the morning songs more tentative and muted, the evening ones as well. Raising growing families and preparing them for the long trip south consumes the migrators daily efforts. And those who winter over are just as busy. Not only are they feeding ravenous babies, but trying to set aside winter stores as well!
The chipmunks and squirrels are stuffing bellies and cheeks as fast as they can nibble. And MouseHouse members as well. Fivelina is already gathering grasses and milkweed for this year's quilting bee. After all, being a grandma now, she has even more cozy things to turn out for the seasons ahead.
Yikes, and I thought I had a lot to do keeping ahead of the weeds!

July 15, 2015

It’s a steamy one this morning on BackPorch—a peaceful place, still bathed in early morning stillness. Quietly, I melt (quite literally!) into my chair, tucked in among lush and happy houseplants, to absorb the peacefulness.
We’ve enjoyed watching a family of Downy Woodpeckers this year. Several weeks ago, we noticed the parents teaching new fledglings how to feed from the suet cages. Now normally we don’t offer suet in the warmer months, but how could we not keep refilling them with these adorable fluff-fliers flitting about, cheeping and chittering to one another, vying for the next yummy treat! So we put up another feeder.
Near as we can tell, there are four juveniles along with doting parents, but since they’ve cheeped-and-chittered the good news to Hare Hollow Woods, we are also seeing Hairy Woodpeckers, Red-breasted Woodpeckers, along with Catbird-and-family, numerous Chickadees, Nuthatches and the feisty Titmouse clan.
MouseHouse has been a skittering place these months. While we are lolling about in the shade, sipping our iced teas, or soaking up the summer rays, they are busily digging about in the woods and fields (our garden too) seeking and gathering the bounty. And not just to plump their bellies or pad posteriors, mind you, no, they are busily preparing for the seasons ahead.
Sir Fivel along with his son-in-law, Bret have been working on expanding Bret and Betina’s place on the other side of Hare Hollow Attic. It’s humbling to watch them lugging carefully-hewn twigs and small branches up the DownSpout Stairway, trip after trip. Sir Fivel stops now and then to wipe his brow with that jaunty bandana he carries before tucking it into the back pocket of his workpants.
Fivelina graciously took the time to chat with me a few days ago, perched daintily there on their veranda (otherwise known as Hare Hollow gutter-strap) while I stood below, shading my eyes from the bright July sky.
“There’ll be two more bunkrooms…” she explained in her high-pitched whispery voice. “The little ones are growing so fast you know, Betina is just beside herself trying to keep up with them. And truly, they do need more room in that little place! So the two boys will have one bunk area, and the two girls the other. I’ve been helping Betina during the day, “ she continued, “…and sewing at night to finish quilts for the new beds.” She stopped. Her eyes twinkled merrily. “This grandma-business sure keeps us hopping, doesn’t it? Well, in my case—skittering!” She tittered delicately behind a dainty hand.
I chuckled. “For sure! But in wonderful ways, don’t you think?”
“Yes, Ma’am…” she sobered. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. We are blessed.” She glanced then, over at Bittersweet Vine line. Colorful pillowslips and quilts fluttered in the breeze. “I better get back to my chores, Ma’am.” She curtsied politely then turned to pull the dry laundry from the line.
“Me too, Fivelina. Have a wonderful day.”
Like I said, all is quiet at this early hour, but I know there’s much activity beneath the surface. Underground. Under brush. Under roof.
Ah well. Call me pampered, but it’s really time for this busy grandma to get back in the air-conditioned house and cool down!

May 21, 2015

Scents of summer: a cool breeze alive with freshness, drifting through an open window at sunrise… a whiff of lavender when I flip my pillow to the cool side… a hint of newly blooming lilacs wafting in on the breeze… and brewed coffee—is there a more tempting aroma in the early morn?
Then there’s the newly cut grass, don’t you love that one? And chocolate chip cookies cooling on a rack? How about the heady scent of wild roses dancing on the wind, or burgers sizzling on a grill?
I love the smell of watermelon spread out on a picnic platter, and freshly picked strawberries. Oh, and the scent of the jam making process—that’s one that lingers for days.
The list goes on. I’m sure you have a few favorites of your own, maybe the scent of home… or a favorite perfume… a sun-kissed child snuggled in your arms.
There are other scents too… the scent of sorrow, of copious tears, and the wilting rose on a loved one’s grave—not just summer scents, of course. Grief and loss are season-less and yes, they carry undeniable scents of their own. I want to embrace them too with compassion and empathy on this approaching day of remembrance.

May 15, 2015

Marvelous May. Truly it is a marvel! Think back to just a few weeks ago when there were piles of snow here and there, the trees were still skeletal and bleak, the landscape depressingly brown and barren, what little was visible that is.
This morning though, I awakened to bird-song-- tentative little chirps at first, and in just moments a chorus of melodious cacophony. What a cheerful greeting to the day! I have to admit though, the warm covers delayed my rising, pulled me right back--honest they did! The same open windows that emitted that balmy, fresh air at bedtime was emanating 40-degree briskness this morning. It was, well, a bit nippy! Warm fuzzy robes and slippers have not yet been retired to the winter bins, despite the high-80's, air-conditioning scramble of just a few days ago.
What's amazingly wonderful though is BackPorch view! The woods tranformed to layers of green: shrubs, saplings, and age-old trees alike, each of them donning, day by day, their brightest new-green attire. It was subtle at first. Just a hint of red buds on the hillside, then a tint of green, and now a full-fledged blooming of every shade imaginable. And flowering trees--oh how I love them! It's sadly short-lived, those wow-moments as we drive past bright purple red-buds, or snowy white dogwoods, pink cherry blossoms and so many others. Just one windy afternoon results in clouds of fragrant, colorful flower-snow, scattered piles of pink fluff here and there. Forsythia, azaleas, rhodos, daffies, tulips, lilacs--oh, the color and aromas! Can there be anything as beautiful as May?
(Achoooo!) Bless me! Oh, did I mention the pollen? I've forgotten what color our cars were, buried beneath a thick layer of the brown-green stuff. And BackPorch, despite a thorough spring-cleaning just days ago, wears a green-grit coating on every surface. Ah well... beauty comes at a price, even, or maybe especially, in nature.
'Scuse me while I grab a tissue!

March 9, 2015

What was that I was saying about dripping being a delightful sound? The drip trolls heard me. It may be a wonderful, hopeful sound outside the house. On the inside? Not so much.
It was Sir Mattie and Miss MaisyMae that clued me in. During dinner tonight, they both kept staring wide-eyed into the music room, on alert, hackles raised as though something or someone's appearance was imminent. I have to admit, they got my attention!
With the usual evening routine: tidy the kitchen, pull the blinds, close the drapes—I heard it too. Drip-drip-drip. Yup. No mistake. Heart-sinkingly distinct.
Sure enough, the large window behind the piano is leaking, the sill already puddled, and tell-tale rivulets streaming down the wall.
There’s not a thing we can do about it, especially at this hour. So with towels on the sill, plastic and more towels on the carpet beneath, I head off to bed knowing there’s going to be a whole lot of Kilzing going on in a couple of months. Oh happy day.
We’ve had worse in years past, chunks of ceiling disintegrating, carpets saturated—serious stuff, and likely it’s that vivid memory that has my stomach churning about now.
So what was that I was saying about drip-drip-drip being a cheerful sound? Perish the thought!

March 6, 2015

Drip. Drip-drip—what a wonderfully welcome sound coming from slowly melting icicles hanging off our roof and well, every other formerly frozen-for-weeks surface! Oh it didn’t last long—temps are back down to 2 degrees this morning, but it was a seed of hope. And according to the weatherman, there are days-in- the-forties soon to follow. You know what that means—drip-drip-drip.
Who’d think such a commonly annoying sound would, in these circumstances, be so joyous!
So now to tickle your whimsy and having you shaking your head again at my silly imaginings, I must relay the latest from MouseHouse. You see, they too are suffering from winter doldrums, just like the rest of us. It was past time for some entertainment and thanks to Miss Winklesnout’s careful planning and spreading-the-word, The Village enjoyed a most spectacular Ice Capades show atop our flat porch roof!
It didn’t take much effort on the part of the stronger mouse-children and gentlemen, to clear a sizable rink for the skaters. They shoveled the loose snow down to solid ice, pushing back the piles into bench-style seating for the spectators.
Miss Winklesnout worked out a schedule with Bluebelle Bluebird, Goldie Goldfinch and their ice-dancing entourage and soon the evening arrived. The spectators dressed warmly: thistle down coats, mufflers and mittens galore, and spread their blankets on the ice-benches provided. The little ones wriggled and squirmed while the crowd gathered. “Mama, can we have our popped sesame now? Is it almost time to start now?” they urged impatiently.
The squeaking, tittering and general din was nearly deafening! Suddenly, a hush spread across the crowd. Olaf & crew, manning the lights, (miniature LED flashlights, reclaimed of course!) worked from their perch on a tree limb above the crowd. The bright beams shone down on two beautiful creatures: Goldie and Bluebelle, as they swirled and twirled their way onto the ice, their beautiful feathers puffed and dusted with sparkles, and large feather plumes swaying from their heads.
With wings spread gracefully, they dipped and spiraled across the expanse to the beautiful accompaniment of Missy Meadowlark and back-ups. They trilled melody after melody in harmonious wonder while Slap-Hap Woody (Woodpecker) manned the percussion on a nearby fallen limb.
Soon the rest of the skaters joined Goldie and Bluebelle on the ice, all of them wowing the crowd with their graceful formations and dance. Then, dance over, retreated to perch daintily at the back of the crowd for a well-earned rest.
The applause died down and the crowd once again chatted and laughed, squeaked and tittered for a few minutes intermission.
The lights came on again and two comedic figures appeared. They wore puffy tunics filled with down and bright red and blue striped leggings, large elf-style hats completed the ensemble along with—of course—bright red clown-noses. They stumbled and bumbled across the ice with what could only be described as hilarious art-form, alternately chasing and pursuing, flipping and tumbling in what could only be described as Musketeer—ah, make that Mouseketeer style. The crowd roared with laughter—well, as loud as a mouse can roar. You get the idea.
When the show was over, all the skaters filed in for a collective bow, and as they did, the two clowns pulled off their silly hats and noses—behold it was Bic and Ben!
A wonderful time was had by all and, after the show, everyone was invited to SchoolHouse Hall for refreshments.
So along with that welcome sound of arriving spring—drip-drip-drip, I’m the happy recipient of daily morning practice sessions of Goldie, Bluebelle, Missy and all their many friends.
What a delightful sound after a long, cold, silent winter.

February 14, 2015

Another storm. Yup—what else is new? Well, by now the checklist is: (see January 26 post)
Seven loaves and fishes? Nope—still have three loaves left from the last storm, and the fish can wait till we find the buried grill. Make that Earl Grey—piping hot and chocolate!
Stash of wood for the stove. Hmmm.The porch stash has seriously dwindled, and the woodpile—you guessed it—buried as well. Hip boots? Nope. We’re at ration-mode on the wood-fires.
Every available water container filled? Four gallons on the stairway, kettle and pitchers standing at-the-ready. The storm-buckets have taken up residence in our bathrooms waiting for the next one.
Extra quilts and blankets? Oh my yes. We haven’t taken them off since mid-January.
Car gassed. What for? We can barely see past the piles to get out of the driveway now! Another few inches and we simply won’t need gas. We’ll be here till spring!
Shovel at the ready? Poor over-used thing! Can’t speak for its enthusiasm about now, but there it hangs, faithfully by the garage door. Now the back muscles involved—that’s another story!
Hatches battened. They haven’t been unbattened in awhile, so yup… check on that.
Snowstorm… blizzard… whatever you are… give us what you’ve got. We’re hearty New Englanders, right? Not!

February 12, 2015

Many have asked what’s been going on in MouseHouse Village these days, and I’ve been sadly remiss in writing, I know. You have to understand though that getting to BackPorch is more difficult with every frigid winter storm. So bundled like an Alaskan—or maybe just a hearty New Englander since I recently heard that Alaska has a mere 8 inches of snow at present, and some New Englanders are battling with more like 8 feet of the icy stuff--I ventured out.
Crunch-crunch. Every step I take reveals that our summer haven is currently iced in—carpet and all. I peer up through impressive icicles hanging off the gutters, to the tiny door in the eave that leads to the Sir Fivel home. All is quiet, only that tiny wisp of white smoke winding from the chimney attesting to small creatures dwelling inside.
Just as I’m about to hurry back inside—its abominably cold out there—I see Sir Fivel, well-wrapped in a warm woolen coat, his cap-flaps pulled down over his ears, a long scarf wrapped several times around his face, huff-puffing his way up the icy Downspout Staircase. He and the boys have chinked out hand and footholds in the ice, but regardless, it is a risky climb.
“Good morning, Ma’am…” he calls in his raspy, somewhat breathless man-mouse voice. “Hope you and Papa Hare are doing well during this long winter siege.” He pauses just outside their doorway, steamy little puffs arising from his snout as he catches his breath.
“Yes, Fivel. We are, thank you. I was concerned about all of you. How is the family?”
“We’re well, thank you, Ma’am.” And then his eyes sparkled in joy. “We are grandparents now, you see! Bret and Betina are the proud new parents of four wee ones—two boys and two girls. As you can imagine, things are quite busy in that house these days.”
“Oh Fivel,” I exclaim joyously, “What wonderful news! You must all be very happy!”
“Yes, Ma’am. The boys and I, along with Bret’s help, have made an inner doorway to their home from inside Hare Hollow—I hope you didn’t mind the noise.
Bret and Betina’s home is under FrontPorch overhang you see, a fair distance in mouse-miles from Sir Fivel and Fivelina’s abode at BackPorch.
“I did notice a bit more activity in the attic of late, I have to admit, Fivel, but no, we weren’t disturbed by it. It’ll be good that the new parents can have family visits despite this hard winter weather. I know most of The Village is isolated underground now, and unable to do much more than stay warm and sleep the winter away.”
He grinned. “Yes, Ma’am. There’s not much going on in The Village just now. I was just over to the shop to pick up some things I needed, but it surely is a challenge to get there and back. We are most thankful for the Underground Tunnel! Most of the time though, we are staying in our homes where it's warm, working on our winter projects. Fivelina is busy helping Betina with the babies, of course. And yes, it’s reassuring to know she can travel safely back and forth under your roof. Thank you, Ma’am for your kind generosity.” His whiskers trembled in the cold.
“We are glad to share our bounty, Fivel, and we appreciate your respect and courtesy. Now we’d both best get back in where it’s warm. Give my best regards to the family and especially to Bret and Betina. I hope the babies do well.”
“Thank you, Ma’am. I’ll pass on your greetings.” And with that, he slipped through MouseHouse door.
Smiling, I gazed further up at the snow-pile on Hare Hollow roof and the expanse of stalactite-icicle display at the edges. The smile faded. With another measureable snowstorm forecast for the weekend, and yet another blockbuster for next Tuesday, could the windows will be the next thing to be covered?
Shuddering, I slip back into our cozy kitchen, shed my bundling and turn on the kettle. Sitting by the fire with our winter projects… yes Sir Fivel, that’s the best thing to do.

February 10, 2015

Need some good news in light of yet another storm on the horizon? Here’s what I’m hanging on to today:
-Daylight Savings starts on March 8th—just 3½ weeks from now! We’ve already gained over an hour of light and continue to gain approximately 2½ minutes per day!
-The first day of spring is 38 days away.
-The Gold Finches are sporting new shades of bright yellow. They lose their bright colors in the fall and winter, and grow new brighter ones for spring and summer.
-Birds are practicing their spring calls. Listen! Hear those exuberant trills coming from the roof or tree-tops? Not just chirps, but melodious song! They’re thinking of better things to come. So should we.
-Stand in the sun for a few minutes. Do you feel that? So much stronger than a few weeks ago! Why it’s downright hot, especially if you’re sitting in a parked car for long. That same powerful sun is beating down on these endless piles of snow, so you know they can’t last for long.
-Wonderful things are happening under all that snow. Tree roots are deepening, perennials and bulbs are spreading and dividing. And the little creatures, well let's just say lots of things are happening in their cozy underground world. It’ll be a bountiful spring when it finally gets here.
So my friends, hang on to your humor if you can. We’re all in this together and we will get through it.

February 5, 2015

Winter… coldest season in these parts (northern hemisphere) from December to February, so I guess it’s no surprise that we’re buried in snow, it’s cold enough to make teeth chatter, spines shiver and nose-hairs braid on the inhale!
Seems like we can’t help but comment on it, no matter where we go. It’s on everyone’s mind. Some more affected than others.
School children? They’re delighted! Another snow day—let’s go sledding.
Teens? Thrilled! We can sleep in tomorrow—homework can wait.
Parents? Worried and harried. Who’ll watch the kids tomorrow! All after-school activities are cancelled? Seriously?
The work-a-world trudges on, no-matter-what, braving slippery roads, drifts you can't see over, and icy walkways. Gotta keep the cogs churning come wind or high-water, sniffles or flu, or in this case—more snow.
And then there’s the highway crews—oh my! They deserve medals of honor. Non-stop plowing and sanding, bucket loading and dumping, only to start the whole process again. Sleep? What’s that? They’re fueled by coffee and sheer New England grit. And we are grateful for every one of them!
The merchants scramble to stock shelves in light of weather-impacted deliveries. Case-in-point, there was one—you read right—one single yellow banana left on the shelf at the supermarket yesterday. One lonely, dejected reject sitting there all by itself. People passed by, gazing at it, none daring to buy it simply because it sat there by itself. Had there been two in that bunch, it would’ve been snatched up in a heartbeat, but one lonely piece of fruit—nope. Funny beings we are sometimes, huh? Myself included. We picked a bunch of green organics—pricey, probably won’t ripen till spring, but hey—we’ve got our bananas!
Well, in retrospect, I have to say I’m grateful to be at this end of the chart—retired. A one-eyed peek out the window blind tells me if I want to crawl back under the eiderdown or schlep off to the kitchen for a morning cuppa. I’m thankful for simple things now: an aromatic soup simmering in the pot, yeast bread mixing in the bread maker or pumpkin spice muffins cooling on the racks, and always, a fire cracklin’ in the woodstove.
The weatherman says there’s more snow in the forecast starting Saturday. We’ll have a one day reprieve.
Sunday’s projection is for more significant snow. And Monday—yup! You guess it. Snow. Then there’s Tuesday. [stretch and yawn] Seems we’re going to have some of that cold white stuff, but by then we won’t be able to see out the window anyway so… back to my quilting.

February 2, 2015

Groundhog Day, also known as Candlemas Day. There’s an old English saying that goes like this:
“If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.”
Rumor is the groundhog saw his shadow this morning and we can expect six more week of winter. Now what I want to know is how he saw his shadow when it’s dark and cloudy and snowing a blizzard! I’m thinking the shadow was cast by the big bright light they shined on his face when they hauled him out of his cozy bed!
Let me tell you if anyone woke me up and dragged me out on a cold, wintry day like this, shined a spot-light on my face and made a big production of the event with TV cameras, a zillion people watching and a whole lot of commotion, I’d be grumpy too. And I just might forecast a whole six more weeks of winter out of spite!
He’s a pudgy little creature--that little groundhog, and smart too, I’d say! Put on a good bunch of body padding before you hibernate, then snuggle down and snooze away the wintry misery. And I don’t blame him one bit for wanting another six weeks of rest.
It’s always puzzled me: six more weeks of winter if he sees his shadow, and six weeks until spring if he doesn’t. Am I missing something here? Isn’t it six weeks either way? Ha-rumph I say. Either way, a good long winter’s nap is the best way to wait it out.

January 31, 2015

Errand day today. While Fridays are our usual choice in hopes of avoiding the weekend crowds, the inclement weather yesterday was enough to dissuade us.
So off we went this sunny, blustery morning, bundled in our warmest jackets zipped to here, scarves wrapped, gloves donned, boots snugged, with our to-buys and must-do’s tucked safely in a pocket.
Traffic was normal for a weekend day—busy but flowing, but the stores were another story.
“Ah yes!” Charlie taps his head, “another snowstorm is coming, and Super Bowl is tomorrow…” I nod grimly, and off we go. He drives, I lead, pausing here and there to select items, before we push on to the next aisle. The atmosphere is bustling with commotion—music, shopper chatter, the constant hum of machinery: meat slicers, refrigeration units, heater fans, to name a few.
Tension is high. Is it that people are really that worried about another 18 inches of snow, or maybe that their Super Bowl guests won’t like the wings and dip? Few smiles, irritated dispositions, and rudeness abounds. Me? I’m worried about getting through the store with my faculties intact! Not to mention limbs and derrière!
You’ve been there too, I’m certain. There are the dodgers and weavers who fly through the aisles as though they are the only ones in the store, oblivious to everyone around them. And of course the bumpers and get-out-of-my-wayers that assume they can push their way through despite who (or what) they run over in the process. And the aisle hoggers that stop their cart in the middle of an aisle while they bend down to peruse the chili cans at leisure, effectively blocking traffic in both directions. Do you wait patiently until they notice you’re trying to pass, or move their cart, risking the wrath of how-dare-you, or well… become a bumper and weaver yourself! Oh the dilemma!
Merchant reasoning eludes me when it comes to cardboard display racks in the middle of aisles, not only hindering but effectively stopping traffic, and this when there’s hardly room to meet the oncoming carriages as it is! Seriously? And couldn’t the stock-carts be unloaded before or after hours on a day like this instead of parked smack in the middle of an aisle, or worse, at the very end? They are full of boxes that you can’t see around, risking a head-on collision with one of the weavers or fliers coming pell-mell from the opposite direction.
Seriously! Grocery store traffic signals might be a life-and-limb-saving investment on days like this. Okay. Rant over. We made it through checkout and, with our purchases bundled, we fairly flew across the parking lot (more to do with the wind and cold than our athletic prowess, mind you) and loaded our goodies in the car.
Whoever invented garages deserve great kudos on a day such as this. We pulled in, sheltered from the wind—oh thank you great garage discoverer—and began the unloading process.
Hot soup and feet-up time are also on my gratitude list today. [yawn]
Snow? Super Bowl? Sure. Bring ‘em on. For now though, a nap sounds about right.

January 28, 2015

Blizzard. A severe snowstorm with high winds and low visibility, also an overabundance or a deluge of something. Yup. I can vouch for both.
The wind howled all day yesterday, and low visibility? I’d say so! It snowed and blowed… and then blowed and snowed some more. Or should I say it blew and snew? Oh me! Well, you get my drift—oh that’s right! We had those too! [grin]
The driveway disappeared early in the day, as did the walkway, the bottom two steps of the porch, and most of my plantings. The hedges look like giant marshmallows this morning and every tree bough is heavy with icing.
During my rest-breaks-while-shoveling this morning, I noticed the tan house siding has new white swirls at the corners, and the front windows are beautifully painted in Swiss-Alps snow-scapes. Funny how a couple feet of snow changes the look of a place, there’s not one sign of all the weeds and spent perennials that didn’t get cleaned up last fall. Nope. Everything is clean and beautifully covered with fresh white fluff.
We have a resident robin this winter. Perhaps she chose to retire here at Hare Hollow. It’s not uncommon for some to stay back when the rest of them fly south, but research suggests that those, unable to migrate, will succumb to the cold and lack of food. As I looked out at the storm yesterday, I felt sad to think of Rosalie Robin and her valiant efforts to survive. So far the winter hadn’t been too bad, but it sure didn’t look good yesterday, and my hopes for her survival were dim.
I’m happy to report that as I opened the garage doors to a knee-high wall of white, I heard a familiar chirp-chirp chirr-up.
“Is that you, Rosaie?” I smiled, looking up to the highest branches of the cherry tree—her usual haunt. She wasn’t there. Nah! Probably not her. Our neighbor called last week to say they’d spotted robins in their yard. Likely it was one of them, along with my wishful thinking.
"Chirp-chirp. Chirrrr-rup. Cheer-up," she persisted, as if to encourage me in my endeavor. I paused, searching the cherry tree again. Nope. No Rosalie. In the maple maybe? Nope. No red-breasted winger there either. Back to work. This pattern repeated several times, the sound coming from so close I could hardly believe she wasn’t in that cherry tree just to my right.
Now we have several bird-houses hanging in that tree—in every tree for that matter! Mostly they are decorative, but the birds—and other creatures—do use them for shelter in the winter. Well, you might’ve guessed it—there in one of said dwellings, its hole well-chewed by a former resident, peeked out a most unlikely occupant with--dare I say it, a twinkle in her eye! Rosalie! Evidently she has taken shelter in the cherry tree condos, and she is alive and well!
How do I know it’s her? Well now I ask you, what migrating robin, just passing thru, would know about Hare Hollow Hospitality and take up residence in a bird house. Robins don’t use birdhouses according to bird experts, but Rosalie is the exception. Oh she won't raise any babies there, she's likely past baby-raising age anyway, but she's made herself quite the cozy winter home.
One smart bird, let me tell you! That cherry tree was laden with dried cherries. She chose her residence carefully and has been living on them all winter—of that I am certain since I’ve seen her there daily for a number of weeks. The supply is dwindling for sure, but hey! Spring is only 52 days away. (sigh)
Well, there’s a small shoveled path to the front door; I think we can get out of the driveway too, so enough for today. Weatherman says there’s more snow coming Friday, and again on Sunday night… and possibly next Thursday as well. Let’s see, fifty-two sleeps and it’ll be spring? What do you think, Rosalie? Can we make it through? I can only hope.

January 1, 2015

Whew! Got thru that: writing 2015 for the first time. Daunting isn’t it? Can you believe that fifteen years ago we were worried about Y2K, anxious about all-we-knew-as-normal stopping short as we hovered at the brink of a new millennium?
We listened to predictions and prognostications, and sadly the dooms-dayers and nay-sayers all made their fortunes scaring us to death while we stockpiled enough goods to hunker down for months, backed up our computer files, bought camp-stoves in case our microwaves no longer worked, purchased alternate lights and power sources in case the power-grid crashed, and well, prepared for doom!
The day dawned and we waited with bated breath. Turned out to be like any other day, and still we waited a few more days to be sure things were normal. They were. For the most part.
Amazing how long it took my brain to shift into 2000-mode, for weeks every check had an inked-out-19 on the date-line, but I got there—finally.
So here we are fifteen years later. A lot has happened in the world in that time—some good, a lot not-so-much. And quite truthfully, New Year’s Day is always a bit daunting to me. Why, you ask? Simply because we hear so much about new beginnings, fresh slates, lofty resolutions and making a better-you. Frankly, it’s overwhelming!
Happy New Year? If I can just make today a better day than yesterday, make wiser choices for my health, both physical and spiritual, just for today, concentrate on gratitude and kindness just for today, look for small ways to bring another ease here and now, and most importantly, trust God for the strength and wisdom for today, isn’t that more realistic? After all, we’re not even promised tomorrow, much less the next 364.
Resolutions? What brings ease to my soul is simply to resolve to do my best today… and then leave tomorrow in His capable hands.
So to you, dear FB friend, I wish health, peace and contentment, one day at a time, today and every single—yes, single—day that is ours to live.
Happy New Day—2015.

December 23, 2014

“…And all through the house; not a creature was stirring not even a mouse.” Sure enough. All is quiet at MouseHouse. The children are tucked, all snug in their beds, while visions of… um… stewed gooseberries dance in their heads? Well, something like that. Sugar-plums might be a little out of reach in their world.
Anyway, all the wee creatures at Hare Hollow and from MouseHouse Village too want to wish you, dear readers, a happy Christmas Day.
Sir Fivel bows and tips his cap, Fivelina curtsies daintily, Bic & Ben salute with gentlemanly aplomb and Bitsy, Trieste and Tatiana blow kisses to you all. And over there at Bret and Betina’s place, they send good wishes too. Miss Winklesnout and wee Tina along with all the school children, Olaf too—all send warm greetings in their best high-pitched mouse-voices on this day before Christmas Eve.
Oh… and Papa Hare and I do as well. (smile)

December 22, 2014

Holiday stress. Sounds like an oxymoron to me—you know, a rhetorical expression containing contradictory terms. Holiday suggests rest and relaxation, a change from the norm, a time to regroup and enjoy. Stress, on the other hand, denotes pressure, strain, and anxiety—the stuff we’re seeing and feeling too much of this time of year. So put the two words together—and yup! I’d say it’s contradictory alright!
Yet we are all saying it—must be the holiday stress: to ourselves when we question feeling so out-of-sorts, hassled and harried, and to each other in hopes of bringing a little comfort: “Hang in there, friend, it’s just holiday stress. We’ll be fine after it’s over.”
It’s a puzzle though, why we all recognize it, but it goes on year after year. Gift lists and must do’s. Office parties and family reunions. Obligatory gifts and invites. Not to mention the baking and cleaning, shopping and wrapping, list-making and checking-it-twice… oh and did I mention wrapping? This, in addition to all the other must-do’s in our day-to-day, for sure it’s enough to make your hair frizz and your nerves frazzle!
A drive to the grocery store is an event in itself—road-rage is yet another by-product of holiday stress. Getting through the store aisles, dodging careening carriages and angry shoppers—well it’s a shaker-upper for sure, and a downer as well!
Happy holidays! We hear the hopeful phrase over and over, but I wonder… is anyone happy? Sure doesn’t seem that way.
And if all that isn’t stressful enough, just knowing the merchants are loving every hair-raising second of this buying madness is enough to—well, you can finish that sentence, I’m sure.
Maybe that’s why I love watching the creatures at Hare Hollow so much, although time spent on BackPorch, being three-season only, is limited this time of year. Still I bundle up and step out for a brief respite, wrapping gloved hands around my mug of tea, and simply observe. It clears my mind, calms and restores a sense of normalcy.
There’s no chaos here. Even the woodland creatures that tend to be contrary in the summer months, feed side-by-side in peaceful harmony in the cold and inclement weather. The Sammies (squirrels) scamper about under the feeders, playing tag up and down the tree trunks, before dashing off to their cozy burrows in the woods. Chippies dart in and out of their front and back doors, side doors too, mouths full of sunflower seeds, mischief sparkling in their eyes.
We have what we call a Cardinal Tree—really a burning bush in summer. Located just below the feeders, it has become a favorite hangout of many winged-wonders, but several red cardinals perched in it make it look wondrously festive this time of year. Even more so when the bush is coated in snow.
I inhale the brisk December air, exhale the stress and dismay, smiling at the sassy chickadee not more than a foot away, perched on the thistle feeder, just the other side of the screen. Indignant at being startled, he fluffs his feathers, stares me down a moment with those beady black eyes before flitting off to perch atop the clothesline where he scolds loudly before flitting off again to more enticing things.
Sir Fivel is trudging along with a satchel over his back, leaning a bit more heavily on his cane today. I watch quietly as he approaches Downspout Timber stairway.
“Good afternoon, Sir Fivel…” I speak quietly.
His eyes dart nervously before recognizing me, then he squints in his usual humor.
“Good day to you, Ma’am…” he touches his cap in greeting.
“You’ve quite a load there… can I help you?”
“No, no, Ma’am. Not to worry. Just a bag of knobs and drawer pulls I need to finish. Something I can do by the wood-fire tomorrow during the storm. Always good to be busy, Ma’am… you know how it goes.”
By then he’s pulled himself up the stairs, satchel in tow. Fivelina is at the door waiting. “Let me help you, dear…” she rushes out to take the satchel from him.
“Happy Holidays, Ma’am…” they call in unison. I return the greeting.
Yes, dear creatures. Happy days to you all as well. You cheer me, inspire me and convict me as well. Simple lives, lived in simple faith, knowing the One who made them will continue to provide for them. No doubt. No anxiety. Just simple trust.
Holiday stress? None.
I am humbled.