Thursday, February 7, 2008

happy year of the earth rat!

according to the chinese calendar today is the first day of the year of the earth rat! the rat is the first animal in the chinese zodiac and starts a twelve year cycle of animals. although the zodiac consists of twelve animals, there is another level of cycles at work in chinese astrology- the elements. this year begins the earth cycle - given all our earthly environmental crises I hope this will be auspicious - can the year of the earth rat set off an epoch of respect and love toward the earth and all things living upon it? let us make it so! by the way, the year of the earth rat only comes every sixty years.

for inquiring minds who like to know, wikipedia's description of chinese astrology is quite accessible and just a click away. it has so many embedded links you can be divining for days. astrologer robert wilkerson has an interesting post about the year of the earth rat on his blog, aquarius papers-global astrology.

a few years ago when it was 'my year' (the year of the sheep) a friend from china suggested that when it is 'your year,' you should wear something red every day. it is believed that this will help promote good luck and offer protection. so if this is your year - go out and stock up on red undies, socks, shirts and belts! hey, I always say, it can't hurt and it's always good to cover all the bases!

rats and mice often get a bum rap. in fact, even me, a lifelong mouse lover, used to have an intense aversion to rats. but sometimes the universe conspires to help us overcome our prejudices. I won't go into it (it's a long story) but several years ago a very young rat found it's way into my sphere of influence. this young rat was very, very cute - he actually looked quite like a mouse! well, to save this rat from death I adopted the rat and he became a pet.

I named the rat frankie, after frank sinatra of course - the head of the rat pack. frankie was a very smart animal and very loving. he loved to hang out on my shoulder and would stay perched there for hours if he could. kids that lived in my neighborhood or who came over to the house loved holding and petting frankie and frankie was a sponge for their affection and attention. the literature recommends that when you have a pet rat you should get two as they are very social animals, but frankie was a solo rat. I had a house full of cats, I didn't want to complicate my life too much with having to care for two rats. but it didn't matter frankie imprinted on humans and maybe even a bit on cats. the cats also liked to give frankie a lot of attention! along with helping me overcome my prejudice against rats, frankie helped many others overcome their phobia about all things rat. frankie was part of the family for almost four years, which is quite long life given the relatively short lifespan of many rodents. frankie wasn't a 'fancy rat' but rather just a plain grey rat. I'm sure there's a moral to this rat tale, what do you think?

by the way, some sources state that the chinese zodiac also refers to this lunar year as the year of the mouse. and both rat and mouse are acceptable and interchangeable! so take your choice - rat or mouse - this year rodents rule.

best wishes for 4706!
may this year of the rat bring peace and positive change!

photo: mouse with two rat friends, 2004 (picture taken when I was 'ratsitting' my friend joe's rats)


Salty Miss Jill said...

Happy New Year! This is my year...and I'm wearing a red bra to ring it in! ;)

Colette Amelia said...

I am a rat! And red is one of my favourite colours to wear. I am told that it is new beginnings for money, now I don't know what that money, end of money, no money and too many bills so bancruptcy? My landlords and friends invited me for a lovely dinner to celebrate the new year last night. It was a feast!

mzjohansen said...

Great post ! Frankie WAS special - look at those little feet and pink nose !

Anonymous said...

It is most definitely The Year of the Mouse. I swear to it on the Holey Cheese.

Anonymous said...

i'm totally sending you my address.

Barbara said...

During the series of rodents when we were in between dogs, the white rat was by far the best. He was very sweet and undemanding. But rodents don't last too long and we were soon on to guinea pigs or hamsters.

Steve Reed said...

Interesting that the cats took to the rat -- you'd think that would have a bad ending!

Rats are cute...I have a friend who has pet rats and they're adorable.

jude said...

gosh, they are adorable....happy new year!

LadrĂ³n de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Your cat and mice get along? Okay, I've really got to visit Cleveland to see THAT. Have you red Robert Sullivan's "Rats"? Very spooky. I'm very fond of bats either, although I know they play important roles.

Cergie said...

Hi Kimy, what a lovely rat.
I can believe he needed love and understand he was able to live with your cats. I know cats living with big dogs without any problem and even sleeping on their back....They are like brother and sister, you know. Boy and girl maight be considered as different too, don't you think so ?

Mouse or rat there in no difference for me. However, in china, they say Rat year. Maybe rat lives more long time and is more clever because living in large society ?

mouse (aka kimy) said...

I'm amazed on how many people I know who were born in the year of the rat(mouse)!! yes, wear red!!

re folks comments on my 'peaceable kingdom' the cats did get along with frankie - but frankie did end up being quite large a large rat and he did think he was either a human or a cat. now the various mice that come into the house (with the exception of yours truly) I'm afraid to say the cats are not to be trusted with them!

jt - I have read half of sullivan's book - rats. somehow, something came up and I never finished it although it wasn't a reflection on the book. I have enjoyed what I've read - sullivan is able to both create but respect and repulsion for brother (and sister) rat.

I confess I own book in hard cover, being a convert to appreciating rats - thanks to frankie - when I heard about it even preordered it! thanks for jogging my memory about having never finished the book. ah, so many books..... what is a bookmouse to do?

jt - it's unclear to me - how do you feel about bats?