01. Red Red - Year 7
Of mice and mice
Recap: after a year-long pause, this is the start of my sixth Rainbow Squared series. Though the images from each previous series can be (and have been!) retroactively used in divination decks, this will be the first series that I am deliberately designing as cards. I am focusing on static images this time, not letting the ooh-aah factor of animation distract (excuse?) me from creating compelling compositions.
I plan to share the cards as I create them, one at a time. I can already tell that the pace may not exactly be one a week. I may decide to share them in batches instead, or only at the end when they are all done. We’ll find out together.
The first piece in the series is always the hardest to share: is it done? Is this really the format I want to use for the next forty-eight pieces? I have been sitting on this one for a while worrying that it’s not perfect. Don’t worry: it’s not. But I’m trying to follow my own advice here and take that (next) first step.
1. Red Red
The sun hadn’t risen yet and I was under the table with my kid. I had been trying to convince him to get dressed or use the potty or something, but then I decided to surrender, to just be with him in the moment in the dark. We were both quiet, the only light pouring in through the door from the kitchen.
Then I heard it, felt it through the floorboards. Pitter patter pitter patter scritch scritch.
A mouse ran clear across the room, from one doorway and out another. I screamed. I screamed a scream so loud that I felt it in my throat the rest of the morning. I screamed because I was surprised, but I was also surprised that I was screaming. What, am I suddenly afraid of mice? I always thought it was ridiculous when cartoon elephants would stand scrunched up on their tippy-toes at the sight of a teeny-tiny mouse. Now I understood.
It’s not like this was the first evidence of a mouse in the house. I thought I had seen one a couple times before, but only out of the corner of my eye. This time it was unmistakable. Later that day our landlord reminded me that she had actually set a mouse trap a few weeks back in the same room where I saw it run by. “You should probably check that trap,” she said. Right. Okay. Check the trap. If I was afraid of a live mouse, I was now differently afraid of a dead one. I waited until the kids were at school, and then braced myself to pull the shelf away from the wall and look behind it.
At first I couldn’t even tell what I was looking at. There was the trap, bright white. Then the body came into focus, a little gray mouse body sticking straight out of the trap, hard to see against the wood floor because of its mousey camouflage. But something else was still confusing: where was the food? Why had this mouse been enticed by the trap if there wasn’t any food in it?
Oh. While this poor mouse lay here dead, a different mouse came by and lapped up the peanut butter. What do they say? The early bird catches the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
As we struggle to manage the mice, my kids continue to leave crumbs all over the floor. I told E that we better clean up unless we want to feed any mouse friends. He got quiet for a minute and then said he didn’t want to clean up the food. “Because they need to eat food. Without food they might die.”
The next day, he ran over to show me a little box he constructed with magnetic tiles: “It’s a mouse catcher.”
“It’s called a fluffinator. I will put them in my fluffinator and turn them into mouse smoothie. I will turn them into mouse smoothie and we will have them for dinner.”
“But I thought you were sad about killing the mice!”
“I’m happy and sad about killing the mice.”
Me too. That’s why I’m turning them into art.
Thanks for reading Rainbow Squared! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Red is about beginnings, and Red Red is like beginning squared.
Here you are at the threshold. Whether you are daunted by the possibilities before you or you feel that there are none, take the first step. The mouse is the master of squeezing through tiny holes. There may be a way in where you don’t expect it.
Of course you might fail, like this mouse did. And so this card can also be about resetting: resetting the mouse trap, restarting the cycle, going back to zero. Take your time plotting your next first move and try again.
Mice are the ultimate prey, small creatures running from one refuge to the next. They are no stranger to fear, but they aren’t afraid of it either. They are survivors, masters of their environment. Red is about survival, about the body, about being in touch with your physical form and the physical world around you. Red is blood, like the warm blood that makes mice and humans mammalian kin.
Mice are also a lesson in contradiction. Consider a particularly famous mouse named Mickey (who incidentally wears red pants). How could a mouse become the basis of a corporate media empire? Yet mice are also a symbol of the opposite: people power, strength in numbers, the little guy, showing up and trying again and again. Ever notice how a mouse problem is never just one mouse?
As a double-color card, Red Red is the first of the “major arcana” of the Rainbow Squared deck. These cards point to a grander lesson about the arc of your life, outside of the day to day. Just as the two colors line up, these cards are about alignment, and also misalignment. How authentic are you being to your body and its own rhythms? In what ways are you merely surviving when you could be thriving? In what ways are you surviving against all odds?
“The mouse is the master of squeezing through tiny holes. There may be a way in where you don’t expect it.”
Yes! I had several late night visits last summer from a couple of mice. I wasn’t sure how they were getting in the house. Turns out, there is a little hole in the floor to accommodate a telephone wire from the garage up to a far corner in the living room. In these landline-less, wireless days, the hole, about the size of a pencil, became a mouse portal. I’ve since plugged the hole with disposable bamboo chopstick. I’ve been hoping to see it whittled down and chewed, but the mice haven’t been as industrious as I expected.