Friday, February 19, 2010

for the love of oranges

"I think it was a mother," said my husband as he looked down at the mousetrap. "Come and see."

"Oh my god, I don't want to see a dead mouse! Get it outside! Throw it out! Throw it in the back yard, in the snowbank. The crow will come and get it right away. Hurry up, while it's still fresh so the crow will grab it right away. Get rid of it!"

"Why do I have to always get rid of the mouse?" he muttered as he threw on a jacket, opened the back door, and went out into the cold, dead mouse in a small bag in hand.

We have a mouse highway in our house. Because it is 102 years old, our house has had plenty of time to be discovered by mice. Each fall, a new mother finds her way to the walls, pulled towards the warmth, the labyrinth of pathways hidden between walls, between ceilings and floors, a maze of mouse roadways running up and down from the basement to the third floor. Each fall or winter, I wake up in the dead of the night sure that I've heard the sound of small gnawing overhead. Or was it by the baseboard? Don't tell me it's in my closet! Of course, when you are as quiet as a mouse in the dead of night listening for a mouse, it knows that you are sitting upright in bed listening and it stops.

"I think we have a mouse," I tell my husband in the morning. "We have to get it."

And why wouldn't a mouse like to come to our house, too? Our cupboards are groaning with food. No lack of nourishment. All manners of goods and groceries.

I'm married to a Lebanese, afterall. His motto is "there is no such thing as having too many groceries!" I just scolded him as he came home today, carrying sacks of groceries. "We don't need more groceries! Our fridge is packed! We just went grocery shopping!"

"Don't worry," he said, "I restrained myself this time." Then, casting a look of incredulity at me, he said "Any Lebanese woman would be thrilled that her husband brings home the groceries and you complain that I'm going grocery shopping!" He busied himself emptying the grocery bags.

"Whose going to eat all these groceries! A person can only eat so much. I hate throwing things out," I retorted.

"Look," he said, holding up a gold and green box of sesame cookies laced with pistachios, "barazik from Syria. I hope they're fresh this time."

"You better not have bought any more oranges," I scolded. "We've already got so many oranges, way more than we can possibly eat. Who's going to eat all these oranges we have?" I asked.

I watched him pull out a large mesh bag of tangelos, then a large mesh bag of mandarins, and yet another large mesh bag of red-fleshed cara cara oranges.

"They were on sale," he said, "how could I resist? And look at how nice they look!" he grinned ear to ear, holding up the three bags of bright orange fruit.

The scent of citrus fills the air.

Aimless Love by Billy Collins

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.

This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.

The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.

No lust, no slam of the door –
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.

No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –
just a twinge every now and then

for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.

But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,

so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

- Billy Collins


marja-leena said...

Lovely post!

Merche Pallarés said...

Don't you have a cat??? I'm sure he would eat all the mice... Very sweet post and poem. Hugs, M.

Mouse said...

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this post, lovely as the lingering scent of oranges is! :-)

tasteofbeirut said...

I loved reading about your "cat and mouse" game with the mouse! Poor thing, they know they will not make it at the end anyway.
By the way, the conversation with your hubby reminded me of the kind I used to have with my ex- he would bring bags and bags of food (mainly chips like Doritos) and I am a minimalist at heart!
You can juice all the oranges and freeze the juice, or better yet, tell him to do it!

northshorewoman said...

ML, thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

MP, I can't have a cat; I've a bird.

Mouse, believe me, I feel conflicted killing mice but what to do, what to do? I tried the live trap option but have never had a moust go inside it.

Taste of Beirut, they put up a good battle though and don't seem to give up finding ways to thwart us hunters. Mice, that is, not husbands ;-) Yes, juicing is a good option and I have never thought of freezing the juice, but that is a good suggestion.

20th Century Woman said...

Ah, yes, the eternal struggle between mouse and woman is a sad one. And only has losers.

As problems go, too many oranges is better than, say, too many turnips. I am like your husband. I am beguiled by interesting foods.

I loved the post, and the poem is delicious.

northshorewoman said...

20th C woman, yes, what would one do with extra turnips. My husband would pickle them with a beet; I would make a Finnish turnip casserole that only I like to eat.

The poem is by an American; it's one I came across awhile back and have kept in my 'return to read' archive.