'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

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Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Ceanothus Bush

Ceanothus bush, Queenstown. November 2011

At our first house, the little white stucco bungalow in Napier Road, there was a ceanothus bush like the one above. It had such sweet, soft-smelling, wonderful blue flowers, and when I squeezed them, the leaves had a pleasant scent too. By the time I was six or seven it was quite a substantial size, and the way the branches grew, arching down almost to the ground, made a secret room just right for me to crouch and believe that no-one knew I was there. When I was cross with my parents I would run away and hide there, hoping that I would be missed and then that would show them!

One night I was sent to bed for some misdemeanor and was so seethingly resentful I decided to run away properly this time - all the way to Napier! I knew the way there, as a few times a year we made the thirteen mile journey to the aquarium or museum. I decided I would be able to walk it and be there by morning. I opened the drawers under my bed, arranged clothes so I could feel for them in the dark, and left each drawer open an inch so they wouldn't make any noise and alert my parents who slept in the adjacent room.

After some time my mother came in to kiss me goodnight, bright and jolly as always, as if nothing had happened. She had probably forgotten the incident but my mind was made up and my head was still furious with her. She would miss me when I was in Napier and then she'd be sorry!

As she turned to go she noticed my drawers were all slightly open, and so, quickly and efficiently, push, push, push, she closed each one up with little bumps that made my bed bounce, cheerily wishing me goodnight and leaving me alone in the quiet darkness.

I lay there. I could probably get my clothes without anyone hearing, but then I thought I might not go after all. She was quite a nice mother really, and it was nice and warm in bed. I could always go next time. If I was really mad at them.


  1. Yes. I remember those days - that will teach them for being mean to me,I WILL run away, then they will be sorry - AND - I shall come back, bigger and braver and older and have such tales to tell, then they will be jealous AND sorry they treated me that way - I could only hold the mood for about an hour or till meal times, whichever came first.

  2. Exactly Alden. You were there too!

  3. So if your mother had not been a neat freak, who knows what might have happened or where you might have ended up?

    Good story, Katherine!

    WV is pdithr. Your mother would have been in one, that's for sure.

  4. A lovely story. I recall getting mad with my parents when I was about nine. We were staying in our caravan in The New Forest and I did run away for a few hours but lying in the flattened bracken that bright summer's day I realised my economic reliance upon them and trudged back, delighted to find they'd all been panicking about my disappearance.

  5. Robert, possibly. Or maybe I would have thought up some other reason to delay my leaving... like YP.

    YP, a lovely story too. Ah, the New Forest. Therein lies another post for me.