Country Quiet | May 27, 2021

There’s Normal Quiet and then there’s Country Quiet.  Normal Quiet is where you are lulled to sleep by the rustling of the trees, the steady rhythm of tires on a nearby street, and a bird chirping in your neighbor’s yard.  Country Quiet is so silent that you’re shaken awake when that same bird farts.

I have lived in a ne’er-traversed neighborhood, alongside a non-stop Boston parkway, and everywhere in between – but even so, when we moved out to the country my brain was not prepared for the lack of noise.  I remember lying in bed that first night, straining to catch any sort of sound beyond my own heartbeat.  “I’m not going to be able to sleep like this,” I thought.  “It’s too quiet, it’s too quiet, it’s just too qu-zzzzzzzzzz.”

Now, of course, after ten years that silence is a part of our background soundtrack; and any break in it, from a house creak to a far-off coyote howl, is a tambourine crash in the middle of a lullaby.  For example, the other night I couldn’t read a book because a fly was buzzing around a completely different level from where I was located (our house has four split-levels because the 1980s were a great time for people who hated windows and loved stairs).  Kyle wasn’t home and I couldn’t remember where he kept the fly swatter, so I spent ten minutes guiding that fly to the front door and back out into the wilderness.  The whole thing reminded me of a story from the early days in our house, and here it is:

It was a cold and quiet winter night.  Kyle was traveling for work, and so I was in charge of my three-year-old son, our two cats, and one goldfish (and myself, I guess).  All of us were up on the topmost level of the house getting Three ready for bed.

Three and I had snuggled in with a book (The Monster’s Monster, if you’re in the market) and were doing our best monster voices when there was the teeniest, tiniest shuffle-shuffle – a cottonball rolling past a marshmallow, a lilac petal rubbing a blade of grass, a dewdrop rolling down a fairy wing – from down in our unfinished basement.

Three stopped his monster roaring and said, “What was that noise?”

And because I was the parent I didn’t say what I was thinking, which was, “It’s probably the boogieman, let’s jump out the window and run screaming to the neighbors.”  Instead, I said, “What noise?”

As previously noted, at the time we had a very old cat named Dakota and a very young cat named Daryl.  Dakota, who was not a fan of monster voices or really anything related to children/adults/the universe, was lying on the bed with her eyes closed pretending like we weren’t there.  Daryl, who was the exact opposite, was sitting on the book.

When the shuffle-shuffle sound occurred, Dakota languidly turned her ear in the direction of the basement.  Daryl, on the other hand, was off like a shot.

“Dat noise,” Three said, as the shuffle-shuffle happened again, followed by the twinkle-tinkle of the bell on Daryl’s collar.

I looked to Dakota, my longtime Barometer for All Mild Inconveniences.  She lifted one eyelid slightly.

“Oh, it’s just the wind,” I said too breezily.

The sound stopped.  Dakota, Guard Cat Extraordinaire, snorted with disgust.  She made a big deal of sitting up and stretching before casually hopping off the bed and ambling down the stairs.

“You know what, I forgot to do something,” I said, turning on the TV.  “I’ll be right back.”

My momma didn’t raise no dummy, and so I grabbed the first weapon I could find: a squishy foam Batman baseball bat.  Eschewing all horror movie warings, I tip-toed down to the top step of the basement.  Everyone looked up at me: Dakota, who lounged disinterestedly off the bottom step; Daryl, crouched in the corner of the room; and a mouse, sitting in the middle of the floor.

I stood there for a few minutes, assessing my options.  Option One was to pick up the mouse and put it outside, which I wasn’t going to do.  Option Two was to call my neighbor and have him pick up the mouse and put it outside – although I guessed that he and I would have a vastly different definition of what I would mean by “take care of this mouse.”  Also, Option Two required me to put on pants.  Option Three was to pick up my squishy foam Batman baseball bat and return from whence I came.

I don’t actually know what happened in the basement besides some more shuffle-shuffle-twinkle-tinkling.  When I came out of my room an hour later Dakota and Daryl were snoozing by the fireplace.  Kyle got home the next day and put so much spray foam and sealer down in the basement that we had to send in a canary to see if any oxygen remained.  We’ve never had another mouse in the house, but Kyle is now convinced that he can hear them walking around outside.

I didn’t take a picture of the mouse so the photo above is of our yard.

This week’s news has hikers, bikers, and birthdays (oh my!).  Read on.

The North Dakota Hiker Babes have challenged themselves to do 12 hikes in 12 months. (KX Net)

Berthold’s Ole Skinningrud celebrated his 90th birthday by taking a group motorcycle ride – with an escort by the sheriff – to the Harley Davidson shop for a special dinner. (KX Net)

Seventeen-year-old Seljon Akhmedli of West Fargo recently graduated with both her high school degree, as well as a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from NDSU. (Fargo Forum)

Williston Public Schools will be handing out free sack lunches to parents and students all summer. (KFYR TV)

Valley City father-daughter duo Myron and Amber VanBruggen have won the annual Dennis Kirk Sled Build for their customized snowmobile. (Valley City Times-Record)

The family of Fargo’s Joe Keller is asking everyone to carry on Joe’s passion for “multiplying joy.” (Fargo Forum)

The BisMan Eats Facebook group is dining its way around Bismarck in order to support local restaurants. (KX Net)

The Medora fire was not nice, but what IS nice is all of the kindnesses shown as the area recovers from its effects. (KFYR TV)

Fargo’s Rachel Bakken is the first person to donate birth tissue (after successfully delivering her third son) at Sanford Hospital in order to help people with burns and skin cancer. (Fargo Forum)

Fifty people stepped in to help Williston’s Amanda Wheeler celebrate her bowling alley birthday. (KX Net)

(Like Amanda Silverman Kosior and/or North Dakota Nice?  Check out last week’s story about Good Ranch.)

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