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.