Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fables & Parabolas ... The Birthday of a Mouse

The Birthday of a Mouse ...

Mathilde Mouse stood on the top of one of several reddish-brown toadstools that were just to the left and back one step from a tiny hole in the ground that led to her burrow. Her head hung low, almost down to her little round belly, and her big floppy ears were sagging over her eyes.

Suddenly, a shout drifted through the morning air. "Hey, Mathilde! Up here!"

Mathilde looked around and then up. She saw Sidney Sloth dangling by his tail from a branch of an old, creaky apple tree. He was sipping a tall glass of iced tea, a marvellous feat actually for a sloth hanging upside down.

"Mathilde," the sloth continued, "what's with the sad face on such a beautiful morning?"

"Oh," Mathilde sighed, "it's my birthday today, and I feel as if no one really cares about me at all."

"Your birthday?" Sidney shouted far too loudly. "Why that's a marvellous thing. We must have a party with balloons and curly streamers, with presents and games, and with cake and ice cream. Leave all the arrangements to me."

"No, thank you, Sidney. I think I shall just have a quiet day to myself. You see, I have grown too old for such frivolous things. No, I will just spend the day in the McCracken field and forage for some of Farmer McCracken's sweet radishes."

"Nonsense," Sidney replied in his sternest voice that sounded a little bit like a door slamming. "What about your daughter and son, Mimsy and Ike? Surely, they will come by. We must at least prepare a feast of potato rinds and apple bits for them."

Mathilde's eyes turned downward.

"Oh," she said with a deeper sigh, "they are too busy with their own lives to be bothered with mine. They will not come by."

Sidney's left eye blinked and then his right eye blinked as well. He had heard from Grandy Gopher that Mathilde's children had left the garden patch quite some time ago. As best as anyone could tell, both were now living in the Granville Granary by the railroad tracks that cut through the fields of wheat and oats just north of the Assiniboine River. Grandy had said that most granary mice were oh so self-indulgent because of their cushy lifestyles, always content on simply growing fat from the easy supply of food that spilled from the trucks and grain trains.

"Perhaps," Mathilde wondered aloud, "if they won't come and see me, I shall go and see them."

"Oh, I'm not so sure that is a good idea," Sidney groaned. "It's a long and dangerous way to the granary."

"Well, then," Mathilde chirped in a happier voice, "I had better start off immediately if I'm to make it there by dusk."

And off she set that very moment, across the garden patch, over the slippery rocks in the stream, and down to the highway that led to the granary.

As she peaked her nose from the weeds growing along the roadside, she saw a horribly dishevelled black raven picking at something on the asphalt. His dark iridescent eyes spotted her immediately, and Mathilde quickly retreated under a bit of thorny bramble and lay very still.

She shuddered when she heard a raspy voice just above her. "Going on the highway, are we?" the old raven croaked with a raspy gurgle.

Mathilde lay silently.

"Well, if you are going on the highway, please don't let me stop you. You see, I have just had an ample helping of two tender, young field mice for lunch, but a third squashed by some passing car would make a wonderful dessert."

Mathilde began to shiver.

After a moment, or a moment and a bit, the raven tired of his waiting, and she heard his long wings flapping as he flew away. Mathilde peeked her nose out from her hiding spot, twitched her whiskers this way and that, and hurriedly made her way back to the garden patch as fast as she could.

Before long, she was back on her toadstool where she sang and danced in the late afternoon sunshine.

Her singing was so full of energy that she even managed to wake Sidney Sloth from his nap.

The sleepy sloth opened one eye and then the other, and he looked down from the old, creaky apple tree to see who was creating so much commotion. He was shocked to see that it was Mathilde.

"Mathilde," he called, "what in the world? I thought you were off to see your children at the Granville Granary."

"Sidney," Mathilde squeaked in a cheerful voice, "I have decided to spend my birthday here with you. I've realised that sometimes, when we grow older, we may feel like we're alone, but there will always be someone to comfort you in times of need, your best friend, like you, Sidney. But, Sidney, you mustn't fuss with balloons and curly streamers, with presents and games, or with cake and ice cream."

Mathilde gave Sidney a stern but loving look and then scurried down from her toadstool.

"As for Mimsy and Ike," she continued, "they will always be important to me, but they are not so important that I cannot be happy apart from them. Sometimes, we need to appreciate what we have, and not focus on what we don't. Sometimes, it is more important to know when to let go. After all, there is more celebration in knowing that life has a place for each of us, and that the best of who you are often depends simply on where you are."



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