Wednesday, March 3, 2010

FEATHERS AND WINGS AND WORRYING THINGS 30th installment

Marion in 1910 era. Old picture, but you can get a sense of the texture of her dress, cotton likely. A light material, surely, but that collar would drive me bananas. Boy, I am glad I came of age in the era of 'danskin' leotards.


"The Kelloch's are still not very cordial to me. Avoid me if they can and the others act as if they do not like to be too friendly when they are around," Margaret was telling Annie Waters over the phone. It was a night in early February.

"Still, the service Sunday night was very good, we had to have chairs in the aisles and the Dr. preached much better than in the morning."

Flora was at work her hat. Her MacMillan's Latin textbook was lying open on the chair seat. She was resting her mind, trying to focus exclusively on the slip stitch she was using to sew the braid onto the crinoline covering her hat form.

That was the second stage of the long process. Soon enough she could get to the best part, the trim, the decoration. For Christmas she had asked for some yellow feathers and red wings, like she had seen in the Eaton's catalogue at Aunt Bella's, one time when she was watching Stanley.

She had got a pair of orange wings and a red satin ribbon. Good enough. Bits and pieces of Margaret's conversation from the hallway pierced her consciousness: "Mrs. Beiber's solo was best I ever heard her sing and Dell Miller sang very nicely.On Sunday, Mrs. Angus Mc Bae sang in the morning. She has such a nice voice."

cantas cantat cantamus cantatis cantant. Flora's Latin Lesson flew into her mind, like a flock of etymological birds. Why now, when she was busy doing something else?

Cant: Boring talk filled with platitudes and cliches
Canticle: a song or a chant especially a hymn
Canto: Section of a poem
Chant: a phrase or slogan repeated rhythmically
Chanter: To sing in French

It was all there in her brain. So why couldn't she repeat it back in class, or better at examination time? Her mind usually went blank then.

"Monday night we made 80 dollars at our tea," her mother continued edifying Annie about her rather uneventful week.
"I received Edith's letter and the lace. Took it to Miss B. today. She will try and have it done Saturday. I really cannot lengthen her skirt as the pacing is all pieced. But will let it out at the hips and give it a good pressing. Or we can get more cashmere and fix it all over... I heard from Herb in Cowansville. He says he has no time to go home. He is making me ill."

Flora's caught her breath and the orange feathers she had been fingering weighed, all of a sudden, like lead in her hands.

Herb.