Saturday, July 10, 2010

The City Mouse and the Country Mouse

Growing up in the city, I was not privy to common country knowledge. It wasn't until I met my husband, and we were out driving in the fields of Kansas, that I learned about cows. One particular thing about cows, that is. I still don't know much else. I was marveling out the passenger window at all the fields of cows, when he pulled the pick-up over to the side of the road and helped me out. We stood by the side of a very flimsy fence, looking at the huge collection of cattle on the other side. And then my husband ..... mooed. He mooed at them. And again. And again. And lo and behold, they began to lumber over to us, mooing back, responding to the overture in their native tongue! I was both flabbergasted and delighted! My husband could speak cow! Who knew? My naive delight in the natural world has amused him ever since. He gets a huge kick out of taking me to see the animals at the state fair. When it comes to these things, I'm pretty easy to surprise.


Way back in early May, when we visited a local after-school program and helped them plant gardens, my sister ended up in temporary custody of two potted tomato plants.  She was supposed to return them to a classmate, but we had a hot spell that dried out the leaves, and she didn't want to return them looking so ragged.  So she bought new plants for her classmate, and left the originals with us, telling us: they'll be fine once they get some more water.  I was all for putting them into the ground as the start of our garden, but the hubs has a master plan for said garden in his mind, and it doesn't begin haphazardly with hand-me-down tomatoes.  So in the pots they stayed, and true to my sister's word, once they got some water, they began to grow.  Eventually, they began to grow too big for their pots, so my husband picked up some new pots and potting soil earlier this week.  We agreed the tomato plants could be the first item in our potted plant garden, which will precede the master garden in the ground that is still being plotted out in the design center of my husband's brain.  I offered to do the re-potting.  Re-potting house plants is about as rural as I get.


Saturday is my day to sleep in.  Sunday is my husband's.  He has always been a light sleeper, easily disturbed, and difficult to get back to sleep.  I once slept through a drug raid on a Greyhound bus on the side of a highway on which I was a passenger.  That's not entirely true.  I woke up as we got pulled over, and thought it strange that the driver was pulling the huge bus over to the side of an interstate highway.  Then I drifted back off, and had to be told later by the other passengers about the police officers with large dogs searching the bus.  Needless to say, I'm a good sleeper.  Or was.  It seems we've switched places recently, with my husband able to drift off in the middle of a sentence, whereas once I'm up (at 5am, after hearing the toddler cry, roll over, and fall asleep again), I'm up.  So this morning, despite the fact that it was Saturday, once I realized I was awake for good, I offered to get up with our son and let my husband sleep.  I scarcely had the offer out of my mouth and his chest began to fall into a pattern of rhythmic breathing.  I got up with the toddler, and after an hour or so of cleaning (me) and messing (him) the living room, I suggested a trip outdoors.  It rained last night, and washed away the terrible heat that has been suffocating us for the past week.  We went outside into the cool morning air.  I stretched my arms above my head, and suddenly spotted the new pots and potting soil sitting next to the tomato plants in their too small containers.  And our adventure began.


I was most of the way through the re-potting process for plant number one, elbow deep in potting soil, when my son exclaimed: I WANNA YOGUWT DWINK!  Realizing that he hadn't had any breakfast, I decided I'd better stop what I was doing and get him a yogurt drink, if only to buy myself the goodwill to get through both tomato plants.  But first, I needed to rinse my hands and arms.  And prior to that, I would need to locate the hose.  I began to follow the tangle of hose from it's starting point at the spigot along it's twisty trail when I almost stepped on ..... a baby mouse, too young to even crawl yet, trying out it's legs on the still-damp soil.   

Eeeek!  Eeeek!  I screeched, before coming to my senses and realizing this baby mousie posed no real threat to me.  I invited my son over to see, and we observed the baby mousie together for a few minutes, naming it's tiny body parts and watching it try to walk, before I returned to my hose untangling task.  I followed the hose to it's home in the kiddie pool, pulled it up the little hill where I stood, and rinsed my hands and arms.  A yogurt drink was procured from the house, tomato plant number one was moved into it's new home, and I began to fill the second empty pot, preparing a similar home for tomato plant number two.  My son was standing next to me, identifying all the colors of the pots, plants, the stool where I sat, and the random toys strewn across the deck.  I felt so peaceful and pastoral, re-potting plants, washing with the hose, even finding tiny animals in our yard and studying them with my toddler son.

Until our cat came up onto the deck with that very same baby mousie clenched between her teeth.  And then dropped it near our feet and began to bat it with her paws.  Again, demonstrating quick thinking and full control over my verbal abilities, I began to shreik:  Aah!  Aauugghh!  NO!  Don't eat the baby mousie!  Aah!  Not on the deck!  Not right here on the deck, Maya!  My son began to cry:  No eat a baby mousie!  Of course, the cat failed to comply with our pleas, and continued to abuse the poor baby mouse.  And so we ran away, into the house, away from nature and animals and all that icky stuff, tomato plant number two tragically abandoned in the midst of the moving process, where it remains even now, while I am safely ensconced behind my computer screen.

No more baby mousies for me.  I think I'll stick to cows seen only through passenger windows.  Eeek.

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