The Mouse in the Powdered Sugar
The old fashioned green cupboard
When I was a young girl in elementary school, my great grandmother owned a green cupboard. It looked very old and dated but when we moved in 1968 the aging relic came with us. One day while acting on my curiosity I noticed that great granny was storing a box of Domino's confectioner's sugar on a shelf in the bottom section of the cabinet. Back in those days of the late 1960's and early 1970's Domino's was the only brand of sugar, sugar cubes and confectioners sugar I can recall seeing in all the homes in the neighborhood. I decided to taste this white powder and found it to be quite sweet. I recognized the flavor from some of the goodies great grandma baked and I was hooked.
I found myself going to that cabinet two or three times a week to enjoy the sweet cane powder. One day I noticed that the box had been moved. It was now on a shelf in the top of the cupboard, and I could see it clearly through the glass door as I passed through the dining room into the kitchen. I cannot recall how many times I gazed at that box with my mouth watering but dared not touch it. I was afraid that if I ate too much I might empty the box and my grandmother would give me a good whooping. Great granny scolded but grandma would lay hands on me and my two younger brothers.
Confectioners sugar has many uses including sprinkling it on top of pastries. I watched great granny utilize the powdered sugar when she made white icing for cakes. I was allowed to eat what was left over and it was delicious. To this day, more than 50 years later, I enjoy eating goodies that have that special flavor and my mind goes back to those good old days. During the time when I would sneak confectioners sugar out of the box, the women in my neck of the woods referred to this particular product as "confectionery sugar". It was only in adulthood that I actually read a box one day and realized us country folk had been pronouncing it wrong.
As a young girl, I craved the sweet aroma and was absolutely fascinated by the feel of the rich white powder as it poured into the palm of my hand. I also loved being able to savor its goodness as it hit my tongue. This craving went on for a few months from mid spring into the early summer. Everything came to abrupt halt, once I overheard a disturbing conversation.
There may be a mouse in the house
One day as I was in the dining room, I heard great-grandma in the kitchen talking to my grandmother. They were discussing the small amounts of powdered sugar they had begun seeing on the cupboard shelf around the Dominos box. Great granny said it must be a mouse and suddenly I was nauseated. As a naive, sheltered, girl of 10 or 11, my brain did not reveal to me the obvious answer. At that moment I began processing my belief that I had been sharing my special treat with a rodent.
In our previous home, I had seen a mouse or two and thought nothing of it. We lived in the county surrounded by tall grass trees and wooded areas. All types of critters were on hand. Our new house was about half a block from the previous one but it was on a lot with a well-manicured lawn. There was a cherry tree outside the kitchen and a persimmon tree in the front but the weeds and bushes where I believed mice originated were several hundred steps away.
I had never seen even one mouse at our new abode and besides, we now had cats, but if my great grandmother said a mouse had gotten into the cupboard then it must be so. I was worried that because I had eaten out of the same box as a rodent that I might have contracted a deadly disease. I could not tell grandma or her mother because I would more than likely get a switch, a fly swatter, or extension cord on my backside. I felt ill for days and each time I walked past that old green cupboard, I wondered how a mouse could scurry up the side and open the glass door to get to the powdered sugar?
The real culprit exposed
In time the repulsion of believing I might have mouse germs went away and so did my desire to eat powdered sugar. I don't recall when the truth hit me but one day it did. I was 18 or 19 and the memory of the situation came flooding through my mind. I actually hit myself in the forehead as people did in the television commercial where they said they should have had a V8. At first, I felt like a complete idiot and then I laughed at myself. Great-grandma had passed away but grandma was still pretty menacing so I kept my revelation to myself.
Years later I shared with my husband and children how slow I had been to recognize the truth which was hidden in plain sight. There was no mouse getting into the Dominos box in the cupboard. If you haven't already figured it out the culprit was me. In my haste to obtain the powdered sugar, I was spilling a little without realizing it. I'm not sure why I vaguely recall seeing a little of the powder on the shelf but was so focused on getting in and out of that cabinet I did not realize what was happening. I would have cleaned up behind myself and continued eating my sweet powdery food treat.
I'm not sure why this recollection came back to me today with such clarity but I hope those who are reading have enjoyed my little trip down memory lane. Each time I see a box of Dominos Confectioner's sugar, on a grocery store shelf, I recall very fondly my humorous situation with what was known in my neck of the woods as "Confectionary sugar," and the mouse that never was.