I wrote this three years ago on an old blog. It still holds true for me today.
Before the word crone became a derogatory one, being a crone was actually an honor. The word comes from the same word as “crown” and the crone was afforded a certain amount of prestige and respect. She was looked up to as an advisor, a teacher, a matriarch.
Apparently, many cultures have a “crone” kind of position that is filled by the wisest, most experienced “mature” women:
When our elders step across the threshold of the Grandmother Lodge, leaving their bleeding behind them, they become the Keepers of the Law. No longer is their attention consumed with the creation and rearing of their own family… Thus their attention turns to the children of all Our Relations: not just their own children, or the children of their friends, their clan or tribe, but the children of all the hoops: the Two-Leggeds, the Four-Leggeds, the Wingeds, the Finned, the Green-Growing Ones, and all others. Our relationship with this great circle of Life rests ultimately in their hands. They must give away this responsibility by modeling, teaching, and sharing the living of this law — in everyday life — to men, women, children — that all might come into balance.
– Brooke Medicine Eagle, Women Of The 14th Moon
Anyhoo, I’m starting to feel like I’m heading toward crone-hood. It promises to be quite an interesting and fulfilling phase of my life.
Nana lived to be just one month shy of her 103rd birthday. My dad (her nephew) tells me she was already over 100 when he saw her at a family reunion, eating and laughing and yakking it up with kin, happy as a clam.
Her great age, which she attributed to taking a spoonful of kerosene every day(!), was impressive by itself, but her start in life is even more interesting. Born in a time when incubators and neonatal ICUs were still far in the future, she was a preemie twin who miraculously beat the odds.
When I was at the Ashcroft Museum recently, I was amazed to find this undated article, possibly from the Ashcroft Journal:
A kitchen oven was turned into a makeshift incubator when Annie Salter was born more than a century ago, several months premature and weighing a little over one pound.
Neonatal technology was still decades away when her grandmother wrapped tiny Annie in cotton cloth, laid her in a cigar box and popped her in the warm oven with the door open.
“It was quite the miracle,” said Salter’s daughter Kae Larson of the remarkable survival in a rural home in 19th-century Dog Creek, BC.
Incredibly, Salter’s mother had miscarried a twin about three months earlier.
Nana as a young woman
The oldest of 11 children, Salter, now 102, was born March 23, 1896 and spent much of her life caring for and feeding others.
First it was her siblings. After she married Frank Salter Dec. 25, 1917, there were her own two children and often several young members of her extended family all living under the same roof.
Sometimes Salter worked as camp cook in the southern Alberta oilfields where her husband toiled.
She couldn’t stand to see anyone go hungry. During the ’30s Depression, she would cook up a huge, hearty stew every Sunday and invite in a dozen or more unemployed oilfield workers, recalled Larson.
“She always said the reason she got married on Christmas Day was that was the one day of the year she knew there would be plenty of food on the table,” said Larson, sitting beside her mother’s wheelchair in the Capital Care Grandview nursing home, 6215 124… [page cut off].
What a gal. Over and over I read stories of the hearty, hard-working, humorous Kirkpatrick women and it makes me so proud.
Nana’s obituary was also included on the photocopied sheet I found:
March 23, 1896 – February 21, 1999
On February 21, 1999 Annie Salter of Edmonton passed away.
Leaving to mourn her loss her daughter and son-in-law, Kae and Ken Larson of Edmonton; daughter-in-law, Pat Salter of Calgary; eight grandchildren, Alec (Anne) Deeves of Calgary, Ronald (Dede) Larson of Singapore, Melody (Dave) Livingston of Grande Cache, Mavis (Ray) Berard of St. Albert, Donna of Edmonton, Dawn Giles of Cobble Hill, B.C., Darlene Bell of Blackie, Alberta and Denise (Darcy) Anderson of Calgary, along with 21 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband, Frank in April 1983; grandson, Barry Deeves 1988; son, Jim 1994; parents, Jim and Emma Kirkpatrick; five sisters and five brothers.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, February 27, 1999 at 2:30 p.m. at Evergreen Funeral Chapel, 16204 Fort Road, Edmonton (1/2 mile east of Manning Drive on 167 Avenue – 1/4 mile south on the old Fort Road), with interment in Evergreen Memorial Gardens. Reverend Hart Cantelon officiating. Special thanks to the staff of Capital Care Grandview. If friends so desire, in lieu of floral tributes, memorials may be made to Capital Care Grandview in care of the Capital Care Foundation 500, 9925 – 109 Street, Edmonton, T5K 2J8. Evergreen Funeral Chapel (Telephone: 472-9019).
Nana was quite a character and I do have more things I plan to post about her in future.
When I was on a recent road trip, I finally got the chance to do something I’ve been meaning to do for years. I stopped in at the Ashcroft Museum (in beautiful downtown Ashcroft, British Columbia).
Kathy, the lady who works there, was so kind and helpful and I enjoyed chatting with her about family connections – the Kirkpatricks and the Felkers and other kin in the area. We even found out we have a tentative family tie – it’s several times removed and by marriage, but still…
I got to photocopy a lot of stuff. Some of it raised as many questions as it answered. For instance, Kathy’s records seem to state that Litta and Mary were two different people (sisters), but I thought Great Uncle Sam had said they were one and the same and that Litta changed her name to Mary when she married a certain fellow. Now there’s a good story to try to dig up some dirt on if ever there was one!
Even the Grand Ol' Opry had to start somewhere, right?
Directly across the street from the museum is the Ashcroft Opera House. The Kirkpatrick Family Orchestra played there many times. Even Great Uncle Sam himself played there.
Ashcroft was also home of the Kirkpatrick Restaurant. An ad in an unidentified newspaper (probably the Ashcroft Journal) is dated February 3, 1900 and reads:
RESTAURANT! Next door to Cargile Hotel. Open day and night. Meals 25c. J. D. Kirkpatrick.
That would be James Douglas Kirkpatrick, no doubt. Some day I’m going to write about ol’ James and his amazing wife Emma (Bowe). The timing of the ad is exactly right – James Douglas lived between 1867 to 1933.
Good ol' George Dawson of Ashcroft and Dawson Creek fame. (Click on image to view larger.)
As I was leaving I spotted an unexpected connection that is not family-related, but geographically. On the wall of the museum was this picture of George Dawson. Being from Dawson Creek, I recognized it immediately. The plaque above the picture of George explains the link to Ashcroft. So I guess Ashcroft and Dawson Creek have more ties than just Dawn-Ann Kirkpatrick!
There was so much cool stuff at the Ashcroft Museum that I have lots of blog material for some time to come now. Watch for letters from the war from Great Uncle Sam and a moving tale of the innovative farm “incubator” that one great aunt spent her first days in.
David Trumble lived to be well over 100 years old and was at one time one of Canada’s oldest living pioneers. His story is told in a sweet little book called When I Was a Boy, edited by Glen Ellis and published in 1976 by J.M. Dent & Sons (Canada) Limited.
Born in 1867, he was still alive and 111 years old when his story was published. He fathered nineteen children (he kept outliving his wives) and his great physical strength was legendary. The last reference I could find on the Internet about Mr. Trumble stated that he was at that time 113 years old. I can find no record of his death or later age.
Following are a couple of quotes from When I Was a Boy.
I smoked and chewed and smoked and chewed
and drank and everything
until I was a hundred and one — a hundred and two –
and then I quit
and I haven’t hardly smoked ever since.
I said, “I’m going to be boss;
if I can’t be boss of myself once in awhile
then there’s no point in me living,”
so I just said, “no sir, no more.”
. . . but I’ll have one now.
I go out to my flowers and put my hands on them. You feel the power in my hands. I talk to my flowers. The flowers understand. And if anybody wants a slip of flowers they come to me. I'll show you a little flower in here, a beautiful thing. I put this in this summer. That's this summer's flower. Geranium. Isn't that wonderful? I talk to it just the same as I talk to you.
There’s a dark face to the moon and a bright one, and as the light reflects back to the earth, so does the shade. You’ve got to plant in the bright side, and the brighter the better it is. A dark moon is the worst time. I see people planting, and they don’t pay any attention to the moon. Half the time they end up with a crop of nothing. But I plant in the moon and I have as pretty flowers as you ever laid eyes on. In my garden this year I growed ‘taters, tomatoes, onions, cabbages, lettuce, radishes. I give it away. Give it to my neighbors. ‘Tain’t mine to keep. The Lord gave it to me and I give it to my own.
Sometimes we’d go to a corn-husking bee,
husk corn for about two or three hours
then get the fiddle out and start dancing,
danced till daylight.
Oh, we used to have quite a time,
but those days are all gone.
What is the modern day equivalent of the message in a bottle?
When I was on a ferry heading to the Sunshine Coast last week, a daddy came to the back of the boat where I was standing. He had a young girl and a young boy with him. “This looks like a good place,” he said. “Throw it really hard.”
The young girl had a bottle clutched in her hand and I saw it had a scrap of paper in it. She pulled back and threw as hard as she could (an admirable toss for such a young girl) and we watched it bob in the wake of the boat, sun glinting off of it, until we couldn’t see it any more.
“I wonder who will find the message,” one of them said as they moved away from the railing.
I stood there dreaming, wondering myself who would find the bottle. I wished I’d asked what the message said. We weren’t terribly far from land so it probably won’t be long, as far as message-bottles go, for someone to find it. Some have taken years. According to wikipedia.com, the bottle that took the longest to find bobbed around on ocean currents for almost 93 years! It was released in 1914 and discovered in 2006.
It got me thinking; if I ever sent a message off in a bottle, what would it say? Ideas?
While I was on vacation last week I stopped in at the Ashcroft museum to have a look at some of the old Kirkpatrick archives held there. (Thanks so much for all your help, Kathy!)
One interesting item I found was quite amusing. Read on:
RCMP News (June 27, 1968 P)
- I think the source of this was the Ashcroft Journal
Clifford Kirkpatrick was moving back to this area from Burnaby yesterday, to Cache Creek with a car and rental trailer. A four-year-old boy, Darcy Harris, was reported missing to Burnaby RCMP by his parents, and enquiries and search around the parents home revealed that the boy had been playing near where Mr. Kirkpatrick was loading furniture and somehow got into the trailer. The boy was found in the trailer at Cache Creek, safe and sound, wearing summer clothes.
I just love the last phrase. Like what he was wearing was any concern? Hee hee…
When I was a girl I was often up and out the door after a quick breakfast. I played and explored outside all day and only came home to eat and use the washroom. I was called in at dinnertime and then was out again until the street lights came on (and woe betide me if I was late!). I played and ran and had fantastic adventures with my friends.
Depending on where I lived, I also tramped around in the bush by myself and learned how to tell time by the sun and find my way home after becoming lost. I ate wild berries that I’d learned were safe and drank stream water.
I think it was good for me to grow up semi-wild and independent. I was always extremely healthy and became a bit of a free-thinker. I learned from nature and observation. Although I was a dreamer, I also became very observant of what was going on around me.
Things are different nowadays. Although our children are statistically safer than they were back in my day, they are coddled and protected more now. This false perception of danger, according to one journalist, has led to unhealthy, socially stunted kids.
Another article warns that “the mental health of 21st-century children is at risk because they are missing out on the exposure to the natural world enjoyed by past generations.”
I’m afraid I would have to agree.
But there is a movement afoot to set the children free. Lenore Skenazy, the journalist who was labeled “America’s Worst Mom” for allowing her nine-year-old son to journey home on the subway alone, has started Free Range Kids and has even written a book on the subject (see Resources, below).
Lenore says on her website, “We are not daredevils. We believe in life jackets and bike helmets and air bags. But we also believe in independence. Children, like chickens, deserve a life outside the cage. The overprotected life is stunting and stifling, not to mention boring for all concerned.”
Hear, hear! Let’s temper our fear with a little more common sense, shall we?
Okay, this is the last video that I’ll bore you with for awhile. It’s just that I’ve been having so much fun with my FLIP camera and my editing software (CyberLink PowerDirector).
I was hanging out with my niece and her fella and my son, Rob. We went to Eau Claire and Princes Island and had dinner at Joey Tomato’s at Eau Claire. Later, my daughter and son-in-law came over with the babies. It was a good day.