True stories of a small flock of remarkable individuals -- and other critters.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Compact Life

In early September, in the house we call Greenestone,
a baby mouse tumbled out of a crack in the ceiling.

It bounced off the stove, 
and landed on the kitchen floor.

...rather horrifying to witness.

There was really nothing we could do for the little thing.
It was very young -- its eyes weren't even open.

We gently removed it and placed it outside in the bushes.

A few minutes later
another mouse baby fell.

Then another--

and another --

When it finally stopped raining mouses, we were very much relieved.

The next morning I found one of those little critters crawling on the path.  
I picked it up.
Its body was cold, 
but in my hands it soon warmed up.
I didn't have the means or ability to care for a baby mouse, but this little thing had survived the loss of its mother, a fall from the attic, and a cold night in the bushes.

I couldn't just leave it there.

One drop of cream on the end of a matchstick was the beginning.
The next drop filled her right up, and then she slept.

We didn't name her Dandelion.
We didn't name her Earl.

We didn't want to grow attached--- her survival seemed so unlikely.

We only called her "mouse baby".

Feeding got easier once she learned to lick.

But you know how messy toddlers can be---

a bath became a necessity.

The warmth of my hand put her right to sleep.

Caring for so delicate a creature was a real challenge.  
To keep her warm, I made her a little pouch to sleep in, 
and tucked it into the front of my shirt.

Sometimes she'd climb out and go exploring. 
I'd look down and find her clinging to my shirt like a little brooch. 

She had some adventuresome encounters with small fruits,

but really she preferred

simple warmth and safety.

When her teeth emerged, I became hopeful.  
I thought that if I could keep her healthy 
until she started eating solid foods, 
she would then nourish herself, and live a long mouse-life.

But one day she got a little sore spot on the bottom of this pretty little foot.
And the next day an infection set in.

Neither the care I could give her
nor her powerful will 
were enough.

The next day Mouse Baby died in my hand.

In the eight magical days that she spent with us, 
she taught us
about strength and fragility,
about hope, about comfort.

Thank you, Mouse Baby.