I hoped — a little — that we weren’t going to get snow. But of course, we did. Not a lot. An inch, maybe two. A dusting, really — at least for this area. The real snows will come, I’m sure but this was a warning shot across our bow, so to speak. Winter’s heralding his imminent arrival. Pretty white flakes. Pretty trees. We never did get the leaves off the deck. They will be mulch by spring. I’ve included my first footsteps in this first snow. Guess who got new Emus this year?
I was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Queens. That’s New York, a city divided into 5 boroughs, each with its own character. Folks think New York is all Manhattan. Wall Street, the Empire State Building. Fifth Avenue. Skyscrapers. But most of New York isn’t Manhattan — and even Manhattan has neighborhoods. Greenwich Village, Harlem, Park Avenue, the Lower East Side. Manhattan’s small, but diverse. From the carousel in Central Park to the open air markets of Rivington Street, to the canyons of the financial district, there’s something for everyone crammed in one small island.
Small is the word for Manhattan, which is how come most of New York’s life happens in the other boroughs. Most families live in Brooklyn or Queens, though Staten Island’s finally come of age and the Bronx has improved a lot. I grew up in Queens. Holliswood. It was full of big old houses, woods and fields back then. I suppose it’s changed. Living less than a mile from the subway , I was surrounded by farms. Ducks, geese and chickens. Horses and donkeys were my neighbors. In those days, Brooklyn was more urban than Queens, but I think it’s all the same now.
When I say I grew up in New York, people get the wrong idea. I didn’t grow up on mean streets. I lived in a rambling old house surrounded by trees … except I took a subway or bus to school and had access to all the neat stuff New York offers. From a teenager’s point of view, it was as good as it gets. The first time I lived in a city was Jerusalem, which is urban, but not like New York. It’s ancient, full of ghosts and history. Mythology. Thousands of years hang heavily on its walls. Not your average city. When I moved back to the US, I settled in Boston.
I like the city, but not the parking, traffic, noise, or constant gridlock. After ten years in Boston, we moved to … Uxbridge. No, not Oxford. South central Massachusetts down by the Rhode Island border. Due south of Worcester. The Blackstone Valley. South of the Pike. It turned out neighbors are neighbors, no matter where you are.
I’ve lived in lots of places. Life is more alike than different, regardless of venue. Big city or a tiny village, everyone knows your business. You don’t have to tell them. They hear it through walls, pick it up in grocery stores, church, from your kids, friends and family. People talk. If you are doing anything interesting, they will talk about you. Even if you aren’t doing anything interesting, they will talk about you because people talk about each other. It’s a people thing.
Our town isn’t exciting. Not much crime. Not a lot of activity. No public transportation. Teenagers have a hard time until they can drive. Mostly, life is people spending time with people. Hanging out with friends. Watching a movie together. Shopping. Celebrating holidays and birthdays. Barbeques in the back yard in summer. Trick or treating on Halloween.
No matter where you live, it’s about relationships, not architecture.
City and country are not so different except for scenery. People are people. Suburb, city, or middle of nowhere, it’s your friends and family who comprise your world. Not your town, city, or state. Where you live is a state of mind, not of the union.
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Every night for the past week, after the television goes off and the bedroom is quiet, I hear it. A scratchy, scrabbly noise. Mice in the walls? Always on the far wall, the outside wall. I hear it for just a few moments, then it’s gone. Is it the continued settling of the house? I want it to be the old house creaking. Our home is getting on in years.
I should get up and investigate though I doubt I’d see anything. In any case, I don’t look. I don’t really want to know. It’s one more thing to deal with and I hate it. It means killing creatures who in their own habitat are harmless … but in my house, make a God awful mess. Don’t tell me about HavAHeart traps. Been there, done that. We’ve caught them, escorted them outside to the woods and seen them scamper right back in. They aren’t that smart. They don’t get the point.
So this wouldn’t be the first time we’ve been invaded, not by any means. No matter how much you seal the house, those little field mice creep in through the tiniest cracks. You wouldn’t believe anything larger than a bug could get in through such a small hole, but every year, when the temperature drops, mice decide our warm house is a better place than the cold out-of-doors. Who could blame them? I sympathize. I do. After all, I prefer the warm house, but it is our house. They are not invited.
If you’ve never been invaded by mice, you cannot imagine what a mess they make. They gnaw through plastic boxes that are supposed to protect your possessions from rodents. They leave their droppings everywhere and your house gets that “mousey” smell. Not a good smell. They get into your food cupboards, chew through boxes and bags. They eat your wiring (fire!!) and tear up your insulation. When they get into your car — how do they do that? — they eat the gaskets and the wires and everything else. They used to tear up the inside of my teepee, ripping open pillows to get at the stuffing which they used for nesting material. The bobcat did less damage.
So that noise … it could be mice. It has been, in the past.
We won’t use poison. Poison leaves them to die in the walls where they rot. Nasty. The terriers — especially Bonnie who is young enough so she ought to like hunting — should be taking care of this problem. For some reason, mice don’t attract her. She loves rats and will attack them vigorously (I’ve seen her do it). We have rats around here, but it’s mice that set up housekeeping. Every year. Like clockwork.
And now, there’s that noise … again.
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There are monuments and mountains, deserts and oceans, but the daily regular rising of our sun is true glory and grandeur, available to all of us,
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