"I look forward to becoming old and wise and audacious." --Glenda Jackson
I grew up among strong and beautiful women. They weren't beautiful like the sylphs in magazines. They were all shapes and colours and sizes, some quiet like deep rivers and some bold as a marching brass band. There were women with silver wings in their hair, women ample or ascetic in form, and women who relied on wheels instead of feet.
When I longed for an older sister, I scanned the choices available in community theatre, school, and church. I picked one--okay, more than one--and my choices happily reciprocated. Even though my own mother was more than capable, I borrowed extra mothers too: a couple of Sunday School teachers, the leader of an after-school arts program, and even the woman who played my mother in our local production of "The Music Man." They would check up on me when we met in the grocery store. They would invite me over for tea or take me out for lunch. They gently schooled this awkward, unsure child in the social graces. They encouraged me to voice my dreams and listened--really listened--to my halting attempts at vocational articulation.
I've always felt keenly this debt. I aspired to be like them--not only in their varied and fascinating lives, but also in their mentoring abilities. Now, at long last, I have a base from which to operate and the wherewithal to share some life-lessons and resources of my own. Conveniently, this farm even offers potential "mentees" a chance for instant payback in the form of meals cooked, beds weeded, and other much-needed chores and projects done.
This week, the farm will be transformed. Instead of a quiet two-person operation, we will become a household of four. Two young women, thousands of miles apart, recently contacted us to request short stays on our farm. Whether by providence or happenstance, their schedules somehow meshed together. Now they are both in transit and will shortly converge on this farm for a week of outdoor work, skill-building, and personal discernment. As per their requests, there will be bagpiping and Gaelic lessons. There will be experiments in group cooking. There will be a trip to a botanical garden and a trip to the beach. There will be weeding and raised-bed building, feasting and merrymaking. And amidst all of this, there will be stories. Here, in this green place, we will tell our own tales.
There will assuredly be laughter. There may well be tears. But the best thing of all will be the honesty and courage of shared struggles. We will find strength as we discover points of connection. Like my young visitors, I, too, hope to be en-couraged and emboldened. I, too, hope to exercise my ability both to name--and be held accountable to--those things which form my deepest and best self. I may be somewhat older and--perhaps--somewhat wiser than my young visitors, but I hope we shall all be equally and joyously audacious!
(photo of Barbara Cooney, Maine author and illustrator, from http://www.favimp.com/BBsample.html.)