Pipe, Cat! Dance, Mouse!


I admit it—I have “Mother” issues.

Mother Goose, that is.

Ever since my mother read to us from Richard Scarry’s Best Mother Goose Ever (c. 1970), I’ve loved the old rhymes.  It’s true, on further investigation some of them are a bit grim, “Ring Around a Rosie,” for example, with its references to the plague.  But most are delightful, like the one I’ve chosen for a new painting, “A Cat Came Fiddling Out of a Barn.”

Here’s the rhyme:

A Cat came fiddling out of a barn

with a pair of bagpipes under her arm.

She could sing nothing but “Fiddle-I-fee,

the Mouse has married the Bumblebee.”

Pipe, Cat!  Dance, Mouse!

We’ll have a wedding at our good house.

Who could resist that?  Except those who frown on cross-species marriage.

I’ve got no problem with it.

I remember that Mr. Scarry always included funny subplots going on around the edges of his scenes.  I’m working this morning trying to get the expressions right for a couple of mouse-ling attendants—Brother, who has laid the satin pillow with the rings on the dusty ground and is chatting, and Sister, who is holding the bride’s train and glaring at Brother.

I’ve had fun making all sorts of unusual decisions.  I worried that the Bumblebee groom might get tired, hovering for the entire ceremony, (not to mention the distracting buzzing noise his wings would make) so I drew a fat dandelion for him to perch on.  A harlequin beetle is performing the ceremony.  And, since the Cat is playing the bagpipes, I decided to make him a ginger cat.

Planning this wedding has been even more fun than planning my own.

Now for the buffet table.  I’m thinking oatcakes and honeycomb, cheeses and pollen-dusted cookies, and a punchbowl brimming with nectar.  A jello-mold?  Put it on the “maybe” list.  Of course, there will be someone small attempting to sneak a bite while everyone’s distracted.

Then there’s the barn and the “good” house.  Hmmm… what would make a house “good” for this joyful celebration?

I can’t wait to find out.

A Cat Came Fiddling, 2013