Saturday, October 04, 2008

of mice and men (and women)

We love being at Melrose. It’s a beautiful and restful place (well, unless you’re replacing windows or renovating kitchens…), and for me it is filled with memories from throughout my life. The cottage is old, and though we don’t know exactly when the oldest part of it was built, there is some evidence that my great-great grandparents came here after the Civil War when they were forced to vacate their home in Burke County, GA.

Except for a few years toward the end of my great-grandparents’ lives, no one has lived here year-round. It has never been updated with insulation or any kind of HVAC system, and a phone wasn’t installed until sometime after I was in high school. There are two temperate times of year to be here: spring and fall. The cool days are helped by space heaters and the fireplaces in the living and dining rooms. Hot days are less tolerable, but are helped by ceiling fans and breezes that come up the hill from the Savannah River valley.

I mention this so that you know this is a country place. The determined snake can find its way into the house through cracks in the floor around the plumbing, and mice make a habit of homesteading in our absence. Snakes in the house are rare, however, and not harmful. Mice are more of a problem.

When we first arrive a ritual setting of mousetraps is essential. Our first night here on this trip we spotted four individual mice. As of this writing the body count is seven (sorry if that is disturbing).

I was therefore amused when I received the following in an email today. It’s good for a laugh and a smile, whether you’re plagued by mice or not.


A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. 'What food might this contain?' the mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.

Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning: There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!'

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, 'Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.'

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, 'There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!' The pig sympathized, but said, I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers.’

The mouse turned to the cow and said, 'There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!' The cow said, 'Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose.'

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house -- like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.

The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital and she returned home with a fever.

Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient.

But his wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

The farmer's wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them. The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.

And so, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn't concern you, remember -- when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.

We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another.


Jayne said...

I love this! Indeed we do have to watch out for one another. Hope the majority of the little visitors are out now. :c)

:Jayne said...

Your place sounds devine even with the mice and snakes.
What a story, I can't wait to retell it, if I may.


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