Thursday, September 28, 2006

Timmy Willie

Imperatrix asked:

“City mouse or country mouse?”

For those unfamiliar with the wise words of Beatrix Potter, may I direct you here? We are a long standing Potter family, and even my seven year old boy still pulls out the odd book to read to himself.

Johnny TownMouse is the story of Timmy Willie, a content little country mouse who in a moment of greed gets caught in a vegetable hamper that’s taken into town to be dropped off at a house. Here he encounters Johnny TownMouse, and urban sophisticate and his coterie of friends. Though with a valiant attempt at politeness, he does not like his sojourn, and returns to his country abode on the next hamper. Sometimes later the circumstances in the town change, and Johnny visits his new found friend on a country holiday. Equally, he does not enjoy himself. The moral is to know yourself, are you a country mouse or a city mouse?

So, to the question, which am I? I’m tempted to say both, but that would be cheating. If forced I’d have to say I’m a country mouse. We live surrounded by farm land, and I wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else. I need complete quiet to sleep, and the looing of cows, the whooing of owls and the quiet murmur of the countryside don’t count to my ear. I need space too, and the thoughts of life without a garden aren’t worth thinking.

I love being able to pack the kids out of the door and being able to just ramble. It could be over to the stream to catch minnows, or up to a favourite climbing tree, or to just walk. I like the fact our eggs get delivered weekly by a friend, that the vegetables I don’t grow myself come from the farm shop of another friend, and that most of the meat we consume come from farms I know.

I love the fact my kids don’t have to suck brown muck into their lungs. That climbing a tree seems perfectly natural to them. That they know milk comes from cows, understand their meat originates from those cute little animals over there. They know the names and species of a wide variety of birds and wildlife, and can tell the difference between a rabbit, fox and badger burrow. They still love their game boys and the telly, but they get that wider influence of what the world is that will help keep them grounded.

Saying all that, I don’t think I could live much further out from London, or from the relatively sophisticated Surrey town’s we’re near. I love being able to steal the odd afternoon to head to London with LL to catch the latest art exhibition, or to be able to head out to a classy restaurant, or to watch an opera or a bit of theatre. Strolling down the Kings Road, or along the South Bank is a treat I wouldn’t do without. I need those things as much as I need the peace and tranquillity of country life.

So, yes I’m a country mouse, but unlike Timmie Willie, I’m perfectly content to spend time in town


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