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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Footprints in the Snow...

February 10, 2016

Did you hear that rumbling, snore-stopping, tell-tale roar approaching at dawn? Loud enough at first to disrupt a pleasant snooze, but as it looms closer the window rattling, bed-shaking vibration dissolves any thought of sleep. Eyes fly open in recognition. Snowplow! Snowing again? Really?

Good morning, February. For sure it’s a sugar-frosted one, and to say it’s a beautiful sight—well, no argument there. Guess we knew the balmy-autumn-spring days had to end sometime. Do I like the cold? Nope. Or the icy, rutted driveway that has me guessing every time I go out whether the car will do a one-eighty before I reach the road? Nope.

Do I like the crackling fire in the woodstove? Yup. And my cozy fleeces and floppy slippers? Yup. And of course a fresh hot cuppa with a good helping of raw honey stirred in. Double yup.

Still, a girl has to get out of the house now and then, so I bundle up to step out onto BackPorch. There in the snow (yes, there’s even snow on screened-in BackPorch) are tiny—and I mean tiny footprints in the snow. Hmmm. Wonder who’s been out and about from MouseHouse even in this stormy weather. I peer closer. Definitely tiny mouse feet, no doubt about it.

And they start near MouseHouse, so it would seem that someone ventured from there of late. Yet their size would indicate a wee mousling, not Sir Fivel himself, with his tell-tale, one-slightly-turned larger feet.

And speaking of the gentleman mouse, I hear a tiny squeak above my head, and look up to see him quietly exiting their cozy home, bundled up against the snow with his heavy wool cap, a warm jacket, and a scarf wrapped about his neck, fringed ends flying in the wind. He carries his cane this morning—indicative that his leg is bothering him today, and carrying a fair-sized satchel under his arm.

“Good day to you, Ma’am…” he greets politely, nodding slightly. “Sorry about that squeaky door. Must tend to that soon…” he apologizes. I smile in amusement. “No apologies needed, Fivel… I’m sure! What brings you out this cold, blustery morning?”

“Oh, just some finished orders to deliver. Mrs. Rue is expecting her babies soon and her hubby awaits these rocker frames…” his head tipped slightly to indicate the contents of the satchel, “… he’s waiting for them so he can finish the double cradle he’s making.  By the size of her… well…” he paused, blushing slightly, “er…well, they expect more than one or two mouselings you see.” 

“My! No, I hadn’t heard. Please wish them my congratulations. I would love to hear when the blessed event occurs.”  I tried to alleviate his embarrassment by changing the subject. “I saw little foot-prints in the snow this morning, here inside BackPorch. Wondered if everyone is well and accounted for up  at MouseHouse this morning. No missing mouselings or anything?” I pointed to the tell-tale prints.

“No, Ma’am… ours are all tucked snug in their beds this morning. I just peeked in on them before I left.”

He lumbered down to take a closer look. “My, my! I don’t know who that would be, but look… it leads over to your covered porch furniture.”

Sure enough. We stepped closer to investigate. I lifted the edge of the green plastic cover, pulling the elastic edge back enough to discover the tip of a tiny pink tail hanging out between two stacked chairs.

“Whose that hiding in there!” Sir Fivel demanded firmly.

The tail disappeared, but a tiny brown face appeared in its stead, large worried brown eyes stared out at us. “It’s me, Sir. Rufus Blackwell. I couldn’t find my way home, Sir, and I don’t know where my family is.” A little hiccupped sob punctuated the latter.

“Come out of there, young feller…” Sir Fivel held out a helping hand. “You come right upstairs to MouseHouse and Mama Fivelina will get you warmed up and fed. Then we’ll see what we can do about finding your folks.”

A shivering little mound of misery eased the rest of the way out from his hiding place, and as he did, a little stain of red oozed from his hind foot.

“Why, you’re injured, young man. How did that happen?” Sir Fivel inquired.

The little mouse stared up at me apprehensively. “I’m sorry, Ma’am… I think I tore your screen as tried to get in here…”

“No harm done, Rufus. We’ll repair it in the spring. But you need to get in where it’s warm and get that foot tended to before you get an infection in it.”

“What’s an infection, Ma’am?”

“Never you mind now…” Sir Fivel admonished. “Come… you are nearly frozen…” And with that they headed toward Downspout Staircase.

“Leave your satchel down here, Sir Fivel…” I suggested. “You can pick it up on your way back.”

“Thank you, Ma’am. I may just do that.” And with that, he dropped it right there, under Overhang Roof and the two of them limped back up the stairway.

I heard the little squeak of the door as they went inside, and Fivelina’s concerned lament as she greeted them.  “Whatever do we have here…??”

Glad to head back into the toasty kitchen, I shed the layers and warmed my hands around a freshly poured mug of tea, sweetened to my liking with—you guessed it, a generous helping of raw honey.

Oh the adventures of a snowy morning at Hare Hollow!


Kelly Graves said...

if Brad read your stories he might not worry so much about the wee critters around here! I've been long in getting back to reading your blog! I'm sure I have missed a lot in the tales and travels of Fivel and his crew!

Marji Hare said...

Thank you for your feedback, Kel. I've been slow to get writing again, but love all my interested readers who encourage me.