Sunday, April 28, 2013
Town Mice and Country Mice
When I was young Auntie (pronounced “On-tee”) gave me a book of Aesop’s fables, and one of my favorites was the story of the town mouse and the country mouse. (There was no suburban mouse.) As I look at the story now, I realize that the country mouse had it better than the town mouse, but what I remember is that each found traveling interesting and in the end preferred to live in the place they called home.
Last weekend, Ann and I visited our country mouse friends Colleen and Marie at their home on Whidbey Island. We call it our favorite B & B & D (Bed and Breakfast and Dinner), though now that they have a loveable dog Ruby, they call it Ruby’s Inn. They have a beautiful, large yard, with vegetables and fruit trees and lots of flowers. Sometimes we see deer. Lots of birds sing and flit happily about their yard. (At least, these birds seem happy. I wonder if birds experience emotion.)
Inside their home are lots of treasures from their walks: rocks and shells and sundries. (Ann and Marie found an unusual sundry when they walked this time: a new leather gun holster.) We stretch out on their living room couch and watch the ferries as they travel to and from Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula. A fire in the fireplace warms us. We laugh when Ruby dumps out her toy basket.
Saturday we took one of those ferries to see the film Girl Rising, a Paul Allen-funded documentary about eight girls in different parts of the world who share their stories of a moment of change. The directors paired each girl with a woman writer from their country, and in most cases the girl starred in her own story. Not all of the stories are happy, but with the girls’ grit and imaginations, they’re all hopeful. (If you have a girl in your life, you should take her—but know that one of the stories involves a rape that’s not graphic, but still…)
After the film, we walked next door to the Local Food Café for soup and pasties and a tasty truffle each. From our table, I looked out to the American National Bank’s old building, refurbished and now displaying a Jimi Hendrix poster in a second floor window and “Espresso” shining in the first floor window.
We walked back to the ferry through more old buildings used for new businesses. This town is just cute. When we returned to Ruby’s Inn, I took a nap while Ann and Marie walked Ruby, and Colleen did something very important that I can’t now recall, and then Marie, who is a physical therapist, called a previous client who severed his spine in a fall last year and has an amazing spirit and was willing to be a part of my book of interviews with people with life-changing health conditions and those in our lives. So we went to visit him.
Sunday after breakfast, Ann and I headed back to our town life and went with our friends Pea and Ally to a one-man show called Riding in Cars with Black People. The writer and performer, Chad Goller-Sojourner, is a large African-American man who grew up with white parents in a wealthy Seattle neighborhood, and writes about how different being black is when you’re not identified as with a white family. In the opening scene, for example, he tells of being stopped by the police and asked, “Where you headed?” Not a question cops asked when they pulled over his white parents or his white neighbors.
Town mice back in town, we continued throughout the week to enjoy our town: I visited The Center for Courage and Renewal downtown (because who doesn’t need courage and renewal); I took the bus to yoga; Ann went to the movies with our friend Chris; we went to the Five Point Café with middle-aged Farkle friends (we were the only ones with any grey hair and without any tattoos at our table); this afternoon we’ll attend a discussion of Huck Finn and the “n” word at the NW African-American Museum.
Though we love visiting our country mice friends, we are town mice: Seattle for us is home. Still, we love the opportunity visit lives different than ours. They remind us that we see this world and live in this world differently than others with whom we still have so much in common.