Saturday, June 02, 2007

City Rat or Country Rat?

When I first looked at this week's Sunday Scribblings prompt, I was mainly intrigued to see the terms "the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse."

I thought it was all about less attractive rodents. Personally, I am familiar with the French concept of city rats and country rats, probably stemming from Jean de la Fontaine's fable "Le Rat de ville et le Rat des champs." (If you don't read French, you can check out the English translation at the bottom of the link.)

As you can see in the fable, the City Rat invites the Country Rat to a wonderful banquet which is unfortnately interrupted by some strange knocking that puts the City Rat in a tizzy.

The Country Rat concludes that the feast was nice enough, but he prefers to eat at home where his dining pleasure is not "so mix'd with fear and trembling."

My family and I are now country rats, yet in our lovely, quiet corner of La France Profonde we have been victims of one car theft, a mysterious night stalker, and threats of physical violence from a village-dweller.

Despite these events, our lives are hardly full of "fear and trembling." Yet somehow I always feel safer in cities. I suppose when it comes to country living, I tend to agree with Woody Allen in Annie Hall:

"You've got crickets. lt's quiet. There's no place to walk after dinner.
There's the screens with the dead moths behind them.
You got the Manson family, possibly. You got Dick and Perry
."

But don't get me wrong. We do have some very nice neighbors.

Click here to read more Sunday Scribblings posts from city rodents and country rodents all over the world.

21 comments:

spacedlaw said...

It's true that I have sometimes felt safer in the bustle of a city than in the DEAD calm of the country, which leaves too much to my rabid imagination. And people who get bored get into mischief (burning cars for instance and that is a rather mild one - unless it is YOUR car, of course).
Nathalie

Betty C. said...

Statistically, my feelings are all wrong of course - - the rural area I live in is one of the safest in France! I guess we've just had some bad luck.

sundaycynce said...

The fable of the City Mouse and the Country Mouse is essentially the same as we learned it in the states, probably from the Fontaine version; or maybe all versions are built around some anonymous classic from many years before any of us were born. Raised through all my childhood and youth 10 miles out of a small town on 10 acres of land, I feel very comfortable where I can hear the crickets and the frogs and night birds and most of the light comes from my house or the night sky. Maybe rural will grow on you.

Regina Clare Jane said...

So sorry for the bad luck, as you say... and I always loved that little fable... makes one happy and grateful for what we have!

Deb G said...

It's funny, I've lived in both rural (mostly as a child) and city areas and thought about the risks of both when I considered this prompt. I think we tend to think of being a victim of human misbehavior more in the city, and in rural areas it's more likely to be not having access to medical help as fast, or bears, cougars, other risky wildlife (at least in the rural areas I've lived). But it can go either way, 'cause I live in a small city that has a cougar on the loose in one of our green belts, I've lived in towns with bears and I know human mischief happens in the country.

Patois said...

My, my, my. All of the not-so-nice "excitement" of the city found right in the country! Thanks for a view into your village.

The Magical Rose Garden said...

Very interesting. I drive around the countryside, see houses sitting there isolated with no one around and think to myself, "Oh, I wouldn't want to live there!" :-)

Rob Kistner said...

Betty --

I have discovered your problem -- you seem to keep living by people. :)

Move to the edge of wilderness, where there are few people -- and you know them all, and they know you.

(near a modest size city)

gautami tripathy said...

I need the rush of the city to make my adrenalin flow.

It is a matter of choice..

megan said...

This is a great post for bringing up many ways of seeing. Yours reminded me that during the day, the country brings me more peace than the city, and during the night, the opposite is true. When I'm awake, I want lots of space around me. When I'm sleeping, a bit less. Thanks for opening the curtains on that one.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I knew the story but had never before read the original French version, thanks for sharing! I think statistically here the country is safer but hte cities are getting safer, well some (Including Edinburgh) are.

sarala said...

Nice post. I have read a number of La Fontaine's fables, from my first French classes when we were required to memorize two to later when I was fluent in the language. I didn't realize there was a Town Rat and Country Rat fable, though.
I hope you and the rest of us are able to feel safe wherever we live.

Kerstin said...

I totally relate to feeling safer in the city! I don't know this fable but I have the same reaction in the country whenever I hear a strange sound coming from the woods or the still of the night. That's creepy to me. Nice post :)

Tammy said...

You feel safer in the city? That's a different take on city life. lol

Shelby said...

very interesting post indeed :)

Rethabile said...

I agree with Gautami that it's a matter of choice. I know of many people who'd like to live in Paris. I live in Paris and would rather live in the country.

wheresmymind said...

My sister was telling me yesterday that she has a country mouse visiting her at her home now and she's freaked! lol

Molly said...

I hope this is the end of your bad luck in rural France! It's all just circumstance... everywhere can be safe or not so safe--there are good and bad everywhere. :)

Frances said...

I feel much safer in the city too.
Maybe it's all those horror films I watched as a teen.
The person who was about to get it was always driving down some country road, or sitting in their little farmhouse.
Don't you just love Woody?
Take care,
Frances

Betty C. said...

To answer Molly, I know it's just circumstance. When we told people in our village about the car theft, a lot of them said that they left their cars open at night WITH THE KEYS IN THE IGNITION! They had never had any problems...

Matthew said...

A nice story and interesting that you find the city safer. It may or may not be but it is telling considering your location. I do however understand that sense of comfort when there are so many folks around.

Some years back I spent some time in Marsoulas a small town about an hour south of Toulouse. I'm not sure how close that is to you but a beautiful part of the world nonetheless.