Monday, September 25, 2017

THIS OLD GIRL - Baggy Pants and Sensible Shoes

Lovely, misty morning over the bay.  The ferry pulls out from the dock.  There's a long blast of foghorn as it disappears into the haze.  Here at Cotton Farm our resident mama deer is leading her little ones (who aren't so little anymore) along my hedge of Laurel.  The thick hedge serves multiple purposes - feeding deer, housing bunnies, keeping my little world private.

Today William and Abner curl by my side as I contemplate aging in good spirits.  I'm drawn to the picture at the top of this blog page, me as a child in northern New Jersey.  I realize (happily) that I still often wear baggy pants, cardigan sweaters, and sensible shoes.   It warms my heart to hold on to pieces of that small child, to remember and honor her, to love her unconditionally as This Old Girl ages into youth and good spirits.

William and Abner

Saturday, September 23, 2017

THIS OLD GIRL- Aging Into Youth and Good Spirits


Have you ever dreamed of a place far different from anything you ever knew?  My vision was a farm.  I saw the farmstead the day I rescued the little black kitten.

It was 1949.  I was eight and riding my bike in and out of the neighborhood streets on my way to Fisher Field Park to swing and climb the monkey bars.  Richie Trent, the local bully, jumped out from behind the dangling branches of an old willow tree near the park entrance.  I slammed on the breaks.  The back tire skidded left, kicking up a cloud of dust.  I landed upright, both feet on the ground on either side of the bike's center bar, my cherished maroon two-wheeler covered in powdery brown dirt.  It should be mentioned that I had no patience with bullies.  I avoided starting trouble, but had no problem finishing it when it crossed my path.
     "You're a jerk, Richie Trent.  Get outta my way or I'll run you down."
     "Won't think I'm a jerk when you see what's behind my back."
     "Pretty sure I'll always think of you as a jerk, Trent."
He started to move his right arm forward.  There was a faint mew.  He stretched his arm straight out to display a tiny black kitten hanging by the nape of his neck from Richie's fist.
     "Got it with a stone from my slingshot.  Should have seen it flip."
I bent to lay down my bike.  In three quick motions I stood back up, grabbed the kitten and then the slingshot that was sticking out of Richie's shirt pocket.  Placing the mewing, squirming ball into my bike bag, I hurled the slingshot to the very top branch of the willow.
     "Hey, girlie, whadaya think you're doing. That's my cat and my slingshot."
With both hands grasping his shirt, I shoved Richie Trent against the thick trunk of the tree. 
     "Want me to tell your mother what her precious boy has done? Come on, we'll go tell her together."
I let go of him and watched his fat, trembling body crumple in a heap to the ground. 

My father was home when I ran into the kitchen with the kitten. I related the horror story while he gently checked the purring animal for injuries.

     "We have to keep him, Daddy.  He needs a home and I've always wanted a pet."

     "I know you have, Cottonseed, but you know your mother's allergies."

Still, Daddy (who always called me Cottonseed) went about crafting two bowls out of tin foil, putting some of our tuna in one and water in the other. He even grabbed a cardboard box from under the sink and filled it with sand he had in the car.  Then he closed the bowls, makeshift litter box, and kitten into the bathroom.  When Mother came home, she heard the story straight from my father.  She walked to the kitchen in silence and made dinner.  I was hopeful and kept the kitten company in the bathroom until bedtime.  The next morning I raced to see him.  Carefully opening the bathroom door just enough to squeeze in, I leaned my back against the door and shut it quietly.  The room was empty - no bowls, no litter box, no little black kitten.  The smell of bleach was choking.  I ran to the kitchen.  My father was at the table with his tea and toast.  Unable to speak, I searched his eyes for an explanation. 

     "Mother thought it was best, Cottonseed, considering her allergies.  I gave it a lot of thought and agreed.  I took him to the shelter.  Sure was a cute little guy.  I guarantee someone with adopt him."

And that's when I saw my farm. That's when I knew pets were in my future.  

My home today isn't quite a farm, but close enough.  There's property for peace and quiet, a magnificent view of blue bay and snowcapped mountains, and always the unconditional love of animals.  I'm a great-grandma now and work daily to be alive and engaged, to bring back good memories and maybe accomplish old goals.  I sure have done that with my almost farm and a plethora of pets over the years.  At the very least, I plan on aging in good spirits.

I recently read an article that defined my age group as the
"youth of old age," so despite the arthritis and hearing aids, This Old Girl is aging into youth and good spirits.  Welcome to the journey.