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Country mouse or city mouse?

June 10, 2013
Logo design by Christine Hepner

Country mommy or city mommy? I’ve been both in these first two years, so which do I prefer?

Both definitely have their advantages. City life means D isn’t commuting a two-hour one-way trip daily, and he’s home to see the little guy for dinner and bedtime. D isn’t as exhausted and frustrated after fighting traffic, either, although commuting on NJ Transit and the PATH trains every day is no picnic either. And of course, there’s the city itself with all its glory.

There are two downsides to city life: 4 flights of stairs to my apartment door and the isolation. I’m lucky to have amazing friends in both places, city and country. But, all my friends work. To take the little guy out to the park or to the baby gym class we belong to is a major undertaking because I have to get him and everything that comes along with him down and, even worse, up those stairs. At least when I’m in the country, I can put him down for his nap and then go sit outside on the porch in the sun for a little while or do some gardening. (More on the gardening later….) I’m right outside his bedroom window and I can be by his side in ten seconds. We stay with my mother, so I have her help and company all day. In the city, I put him down for his nap, but then I have to stay in the apartment until he wakes up. Yes, I have things to do….housework, homework, blogging….but I have to be honest and admit that I’ve felt trapped inside these four walls the last few months since we’ve been back in the city. I love it the moment D gets home from work. We’ve invited friends over for the evening or gone out together for a meal or to the parks. But during the day, it’s the little guy and I, and Thomas, and Barney, and Elmo, and…well, you get it.

Of course, country life has its disadvantages, too. For example, D’s birthday was a few weekends ago, and he spent the first hour of it chasing a squirrel around the room. For those of you who just thought, “Ewwwww,” no, that is not a euphemism for anything. He literally spent the first hour chasing a baby squirrel. It happened almost exactly at midnight. The baby was asleep, and we were watching SNL. As I turned to him to wish him happy birthday, from the other room we heard a commotion: things being knocked off tables, and Miss Pinky the huntress cat hissing and growling. My brave husband went to investigate and sure enough, Miss Pinky had spotted this poor baby squirrel and had it trapped behind a bookcase.

This to me is the ultimate test. Am I a city girl or a country girl? The country girl would march into the room and help trap or shoo the squirrel out an open door. The city girl would cower in her bed and pray to the squirrel gods to guide that squirrel out the door with absolutely no intervention from humans, especially her or her husband. Anyone want to guess what I did? Anyone? ….

I totally cowered. It’s not that I don’t see squirrels in the city all the time. Pretty brazen squirrels, too. Ones that will run right up to the park bench you are sitting on and try to grab popcorn or crumbs. And yet, as my BFF Bernadette has said, she doesn’t cross the street if she sees a squirrel on her side of the sidewalk. However, if the squirrel appeared in her bedroom, well, that’s a whole different story. D eventually came up with a brilliant plan using the baby gates we have to corral the squirrel along a pathway to the open door. And just so you don’t think I’m a total wuss, I’m the gal you want to see about insects. D can handle the mice, squirrels, and chipmunks of country life, but he isn’t too keen on the bugs. If there’s a spider who needs relocating, he turns to me. I’m sure he won’t mind my telling you that…right, honey?

And then of course, there’s my new hobby: gardening. Last summer, I decided to give it a try. I’ve grown a basil plant in my kitchen a few times in the past, so I thought, just how hard can growing tomatoes be? I love tomatoes. (Here’s a very strange little fact I just learned. I absolutely crave tomatoes, and turns out, they contain traces of nicotine! I quit smoking about ten years ago, and I honestly can’t remember if I had the same tomato craving before I quit, but I’ve definitely had an almost obsession with tomatoes since then. Maybe that little tidbit might help someone trying to quit out there.)

And because I never do anything half-way, I planted nearly 30 tomato seeds. I nurtured them all summer long, transplanting them to large pots of organic potting soil instead of planting them in the ground. We have marauding bands of deer and herds of rabbits in the country, and I was not going to let them feast on my tomato crop! So, each morning, I’d move all my potted tomato plants off the porch and into the sunlight for the day. Each night, I drag them back up the stairs onto the porch.

After all that, here is my harvest:

photo (2)

Just to be very clear, this is not an example of my harvest, this is the TOTAL harvest from those 30 plants, which turns out, I planted WAY too late in the season. Oh, and just for perspective, here’s a shot of my harvest next to a teaspoon:

photo (1)

Not terribly impressive, I know. But I’m determined to do better this summer.

So, in conclusion, I offer this video. I took this from the front stairs of my mother’s house at 6 in the morning last July. Look behind the mommy bear into the woods and you will see two more cubs. She had triplets!

I have yet to see a black bear walking down Broadway. I guess I’ll take Manhattan, with occasional weekends in the country.

Next time: We are going to sell our apartment! I think….

© Copyright 2013

To uncle S, Aunt Lisa and Uncle Tom, Grandma and Grandpa, all the cousins especially the bestest babysitter ever, Emily, thank you for making F’s 2nd birthday so very wonderful! xoxo!!!

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