July 2005: Lemon is a bright yellow crocheted mouse who has been traveling across Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana with me. He is in the midst of a custody battle between me and my friend Loretta who lives in Kentucky.
But maybe I should start from the beginning . . .
Two years ago Loretta came to Pennsylvania for a visit. When we pulled open the sofa bed for her first night’s stay in my home, to our dismay there was a dead mouse which had been decomposing under the sofa. Most likely one of my cats had caught and injured it seriously enough so that it crawled under the sofa and died. Loretta hates mice with a passion, so all that night she had “mice-mares;” she also swore that she could smell the decay regardless of my efforts to disinfect and deodorize the area.
When I flew to Kentucky to visit Loretta later that year, this little yellow mouse was hiding in my bed! When I arrived home, I found the mouse tucked away in a deep corner of my suitcase. Ever since then, Lemon has been traveling back and forth between Pennsylvania and Kentucky — sometimes by car, sometimes by air, sometimes by UPS, and sometimes by good old fashioned US Mail. He spends part of his time with Loretta, and part of his time with me, although recently he has been living more in Pennsylvania than Kentucky.
In June he arrived back in Pennsylvania after spending several months in Kentucky. He came by car when Loretta drove up for a visit. The morning she was to leave, I secretly tucked Lemon into one of her bags. Two days later, Lemon surfaced in my pocketbook where he had been hiding since Loretta’s departure.
Because he was quite indignant about being left behind, I managed to placate him by promising to take him along on my trip west. He flew Northwest Airlines in the safe confines of my riding helmet with his buddy Pumpkin Two, a little orange stuffed cat who lives with me full time. Since arriving in Jackson Hole, Lemon has gone driftboat fishing, trail riding, and in the Targhee Resort chair lift 10,000 feet to the summit of Fred’s Mountain. He has toured Yellowstone and traveled into Montana in the confines of my Vera Bradley backpack. The hotel managements allowed Lemon to stay regardless of their “no pets” policy.
After our return home, Lemon decided to stay permanently in Pennsylvania and took on a job as a library mouse at Hillcrest Elementary where I was an elementary school librarian. He sat on my desk and also helped me read to the children. One little first grade girl named Laura fell in love with Lemon. He was very real to her, and she always wanted one on one visit time with him when she came to the library. When I retired two years later, I found and bought another yellow crocheted mouse and gave it to Laura. I told her that Lemon was retiring with me, but that his cousin, Lemon II, wanted to go home and live with her. Laura would now be a college graduate, and I’ve lost touch with her and her family, but I often wonder if she still has Lemon II.
The original Lemon still lives with me.