“Too much noise,” said Mr. Flibberty-Jib.
“Not enough roast beef,” said Mrs. Flibberty-Jib. “And you don’t wear your mittens.”
They moved from the loud city to the countryside in hope of quiet. The noise of roosters and tractors drove them back to the city, where Mr. Flibberty-Jib finally ate more roast beef and began wearing his mittens.*
Urban-rural contrasts are a staple of folklore and children’s picture books. Aesop’s ancient fable of the city mouse and the country mouse has been retold in many forms over the centuries. The distinct rewards and challenges of each way of life become evident as one mouse visits the other.
These days I hear travelers back from road trips aghast at the lawn signs they saw along the way. Urban and rural areas differ sharply in the political views that predominate. Did no one grow up hearing fables in which city and country mice meet, converse, and begin to understand each other’s perspectives, instead of just driving by?
*As best I remember it, from Gertrude Crompton, Noises and Mr. Flibberty-Jib, 1947.
Image: Arthur Rackham’s illustration in Aesop’s Fables: A New Translation, 1912.
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.