Strong-willed Women

I was looking around for some more garden shots that Stephanie took yesterday for me, but I can’t find them. Where does she hide these things?! We have an agreement to not poke around in each other’s files too much, so I abandoned the search after I couldn’t find the photos in the obvious places. However, poking around in my own files jogged the memory about a couple of shots that I had been intending to share with you.

Above is my sister, Carol, the one next in line behind me. Well, she’s actually Caroline, but she prefers the shorter version and thus it has always been between us. The little miss with her is her daughter, Gillian. Yes, she who is four going on twenty-four. The one who “knows things”; the one who keeps Auntie Eleanor on her toes with at least one “oh lord, how do I answer that” topic per conversation. She’s a sweetie, though, precocious streak and all. This photo was a bit of a shock when I received it recently as I’m used to seeing little Madam with long curls. But, in true Gillian fashion, she got it into her head one day that she wanted short hair, and there was no arguing the point. She pestered and pestered and pestered until Carol finally gave in, with the warning “I don’t want to hear about it if you don’t like it after.” Madam did like it for a week or two, but then, naturally, there was the “I want my long hair back” wail. Sorry, Sunshine, them’s the breaks!

But while making sympathetic noises to my sister, I can’t help chuckling inwardly at how history repeats itself. I was always very quiet and compliant, truly I was, so my parents must have wondered what had hit them when number two child came along. She might have forgotten what she was like as a child, but I haven’t. As a two-year-old she scaled a ladder to the porch roof where a cousin and Dad were working. I was talking to them through the bathroom window when this little head appeared over the edge of the roof. Everyone froze, naturally, except for she on the ladder. While adults and older sister were silently freaking out, trying to figure out how to best bring her to safety, she just calmly ignored all warnings to stay still and kept climbing. Jeebus. Then as a four-year-old, yes, the same age as her daughter now, she decided that she wasn’t going to take no for an answer about accompanying Dad to town. She wanted to go and, by god, she was going, end of story. Mom and I were working in the garden and she was playing with the dog on the lane beside the garden. We bent our heads to our task for a few minutes, looked up, and she was gone. Some time later a neighbour brought her home, after finding her three miles up the road, walking to town, accompanied by the dog. Skipper never, ever left the farm on her own, but I guess she realized that perhaps she should accompany the runaway and keep her safe. She was a marvellous dog- sweet of temperament and just as diligent at protecting her humans as she was at herding cattle.

Below is she who used to be my own little Madam. I keep telling Carol to stay strong and her little Madam will one day be a lovely young woman who is a delight to be around, too. But of course it’s hard to see that far into the future when dealing with a pre-schooler. The strong will that can shred your last nerve then, and again during the teen years, becomes a joy to behold when they reach adulthood. My girl is very soft and feminine on the outside, and has a heart of gold on the inside. But, I would highly recommend that you treat her with respect, or else. Just ask the leering bloke who undressed her with his eyes the other evening and whispered a crude remark in her ear when she passed him in the doorway of Tim Horton’s. His ears are probably still burning. That’s my girl.

But enough of all of this. It’s time to find my own strong will and will myself out to the garden to pull a load of beets for pickling. It’s a blessedly cooler day, a brief reprieve from the intense heat wave, and I can’t let it go to waste. I don’t much feel like doing the pickling today, but I’ll feel like it less when the heat comes back tomorrow. Yes, yes, I know that I’m supposed to be pacing and not overexerting myself, but pickling really isn’t intense labour and I can putter away at it over the rest of the day. Richard is doing a grocery run after work and will be bringing home supper from the amazing deli at the supermarket, so I have no schedule at all to keep. If it takes me until midnight to get the pickling done, so be it. I’m not one to brag, but my pickled beets are in high demand, and not just from those I life with. So, one day’s work nets a year’s worth of enjoyment for all at my table, as well as those who happen to go home with a jar or two. And that makes it all worthwhile.

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