The mice have returned and it’s no surprise after Thanksgiving’s ice storm. Who wouldn’t want to seek shelter from that? These mice don’t likely remember the terrible ice storm of 2007, but I do. I remember the chill down in the bones that wouldn’t go away, the dirty dishes that got set out in the snow as there was no water to wash them, the horse tank frozen solid. What seemed like the kind of adventure a pioneer gal should experience became a reminder of how little I know of what it takes to be a real pioneer. In fact, I don’t expect to ever know that. These days, in this country, we assume the utility companies will restore the light and warmth and water—hot water, of course. The dishes will be brought in and washed, the thermostat will climb up to a comfortable level, and I will go back to being able to do all those things that require light, even after the sun goes down. During that great ice storm of 2007, my not-so-fun-adventure had an end in sight.
And speaking of ends and in this case not so pleasant ones, the cats got two of the mice, leaving one on the kitchen floor for me to nearly step on first thing in the morning, and the other under the couch where it was causing quite a stink before I figured out where it was. Another especially clever one got in my live trap, ate the glob of peanut butter, left plenty of those little black dropping they are known for, and went his merry way. I had already decided that I didn’t really want to catch any of these sweet creatures (I do find them sweet) until the ice was gone, until the temperatures had warmed a bit. When I would feel better about releasing them into a field. I want them to have a chance to find a good winter home.
Let Them Come In
The new snow so white,
white as the down on the Canadian geese
searching for an uncovered field,
white as the pompom on the stocking cap
worn by my daughter.
The snowman finished,
damp mittens spread out on newspaper
alongside boots and soaked pants,
the soup simmering on the stove.
I want to have a room for the birds,
the cardinals and sparrows and crows—
yes, the crows.
I would invite them in
to roost in small trees grown in red clay pots,
to eat from feeders
painted flower yellow and sky blue
and hung from the branches,
newspaper underneath to catch the droppings,
for droppings there would be.
They would eat their fill
then go back out
into that bright white
in search of those still needing
to be brought in.
The ice and cold have been replaced with a stretch of almost spring-like weather with thunderstorms due tonight. But winter will return. I thought the mice had left, perhaps after seeing what the cats had in mind for them, but yesterday I found Bella staring under a bookshelf with that look of patient anticipation—so no, I don’t think they’re gone. I know they belong outside, as do the birds. But there are others out there who are not meant to survive in the wild. Who would love a place where their children’s damp clothes can dry. Where they can cook soup for dinner. Where they can watch the birds outside their windows. Where someone says to them, “Welcome home.”
December is here. The shortest day is drawing near. The bright white of winter’s sun won’t linger for anyone. It is time to let them come in.
# Kansas writer #refugees