I am in Indianapolis at Ellen’s waiting for the Fringe to start. I am a bundle of nerves. These are the times I wonder why I do what I do. Writing and producing a storytelling show is such an isolated skill, and then it goes to the stage and will it win or lose? The reviewers sit in silence at each show writing away, watching, smiling, scowling. Will they write good things, bad things? Some of the performers here don’t even read the reviews, but how can I help it? Tonight is my show, and my palms are sweaty just thinking about it. So let’s not think about it.
My first full week home in Indiana was exactly as it should be … walking trails, building bonfires and celebrating birthdays. It was also great having a refrigerator full of food from the gardens.
I always notice a few things in disarray when I arrive home. Once, if you remember, I had a swarm of bees in the wall. I always wait for the bats to arrive and greet me with their familiar swooping around my house. This year there were no bees and no bats. Instead there was a lowly little mouse. I say mouse as in singular because I think there is only one.
I went to town to buy a mouse trap. I really hate doing this. I can’t stand the thought of killing a mouse, but I didn’t want an entire family showing up so I have no choice.
The truth is that I have never set a mouse trap before. I know. I know. So I invited Kathy over to help me do this. (Every time Aaron and Karen came over I forgot to ask them.) Kathy and I took the trap out of the package. I looked at her. “Do you know how to set a trap?” She shook her head no.
I read the directions on the back while she held onto the trap. It doesn’t work. Something is really wrong here, I thought. Why can’t we set a mouse trap? We worked at it for more than a half hour. “OK,” I said, “I think I can get directions on YouTube.” I pulled it up on my phone and we watched the short video. We watched the video four times before we tried again. (It went really fast!) Finally we got the trap set.
This is one of those new traps that have the cheese built onto the plastic. However, I wasn’t taking any chances so we put peanut butter on the trap as well. In the morning I walked carefully into my kitchen. I didn’t even want to look to see what had happened to the mouse. Much to my surprise, there was no mouse. He/she had made an appearance and left me souvenirs to prove it. I couldn’t believe the mouse outsmarted us. Back to YouTube to set the trap again, and then leave the house. Still no mouse. Perhaps we are just going to have to learn to live with one another.
Years ago I caught mice for a great Aunt of mine. I received a nickel for every mouse I caught. I also received a nickel for every pint of gooseberries I picked. At the end of that summer I actually had enough money to buy a used bike. It never really worked very well, but everything I do eventually turns to story.
So my stories continue. Tonight I tell my Hoosier Roots story about the farm, and then tell it five more times. I guess what will help me get through this is to remember it is a great story. I just hope folks want to come out and hear it. I know a lot of you will walk onto the stage with me tonight as the curtain opens. I know my kids won’t be there, but I will picture them sitting in the front row!
I will switch gears on Sunday to become Gene Stratton-Porter at the Chautauqua days in Rome City. The celebration will take place all weekend with boat rides, garden walks and a birthday cake to celebrate her life. If you have never had a chance to visit the site, come on out this weekend. We are so fortunate to have this historic home of Gene Stratton-Porter so close to us. She worked as famed naturalist, environmentalist and writer before it was fashionable for a woman to do so.
So, on with the show … let the stories begin.