Friday, November 20, 2009

DO I DARE EAT A PEACH? 1st installment

Above. Richmond Folk. Circa 1908. That is probably Flora seated at left. Perhaps Edith is the woman standing behind the boy. Interesting picture. The people seem to be waiting for a parade. Maybe it's an Easter Parade. Look at all those funny hats~ Now, Miss Eugenie Hudon, the town milliner, surely had a hand in the two creations at left. They appear to be Paris style fashions, a little out of place on aged Richmond matrons. But what about the other headpieces? Flora. What were you thinking? Edith? Is that a pom pom on top of your head?

OK. Get on task. Do I dare write that first sentence. Do I dare eat a peach? I can hear the mermen singing each to each, but will they sing for me? I dunno why that came into my mind, 'cause I was about to commit-to-digital that first sentence of that first draft of my first novel Flo in the City.

Here goes... (Sx. Drumroll) Just a change of colour. Just a change of colour. ( I know. I know. A bit anticlimactic since I've already chosen that line for the Chapter Title. But I continue...)

Why couldn't she get that silly line out of her head? Flora wondered. She had much more important tasks to attend to. Much much more important. Like the take home exam on her knee. The one fluttering in the spring breeze. That imposing mimeographed foolscap sheet with its list of impossible questions. A composition test of all things. Her worse subject! And questions relating to an essay on Life back in the 30's. History. So it was boring too.

Describing farm women, so it was extra boring.

Flora was tired of hearing how hard women worked in the good old days, compared to today. The first question glared out at her: Read the above essay carefully and 1) compare your life to that of the women mentioned and decide whether you have it easier or harder. Give concrete examples. 2) in your opinion, what is meant by 'the Canadian character' and give examples of people in your life who exemplify it.

What does the teacher mean by asking me to answer such a stupid question! For a moment Flora thought she might write down that cheeky answer. For just a moment. But instead she adjusted the hem on her blue wool jumper, and pulled on a little blue thread until it grew longer and longer.

"Mother," she called in to her mom. "I need you to mend my school uniform. The seam is splitting."

Any other day, she would have had her mother to keep her on task - and to help her with any difficult homework. Margaret had a sharp memory and even sharper opinions on just about every topic imaginable.

She was famous in her birth family for being the one 'who knows things.'

She loved history. Family history especially.

She could remember the exact dates Grandfather Malcolm McLeod and his family left the Isle of Lewis, Hebrides Scotland to come to Quebec. She knew what port they landed in, how they got to Lingwick, and what they did to keep the wolf from the door during that first bone-chilling winter.

Margaret, born in Canada, way back in 1854, before Canada was a country, even, was so very proud to be Canadian. She had cut out this poem My Old Canadian Home and pinned it to the recipe board in the kitchen.

The shades of night are falling
I am sitting all alone
Thinking of my happy childhood
In my old Canadian home

But today no homework help was forthcoming. No sewing help either. "It will have to wait," Margaret shot back from the room off the kitchen, without missing a beat as she tap tap tapped the big bronze pedal on the old Singer. "I hardly have time enough to sew this pocket into my corset, for tomorrow's train trip to Three Rivers. To protect my cash. Father's orders. And come in from the veranda, Flora dear, the wind is picking up and you'll catch a chill."