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Friday, February 13, 2009

Farmwife to hit the stage March 1st in Literary Follies

When I was in school, I loved to be on stage. The first starring role that I remember was as the Teacher in “School Days” in Grade 6. I still remember most of the words to the chorus of the song that Mr. Birtch taught me to sing, about homework excuses. The acting bug got me good, and nearly every year after that, straight through junior high and high school, I was in the annual theatre production.
I also entered every talent show, beauty pageant and variety night that North Grenville District High School produced. One loyal friend of our family says she saw me sing “The Rose” by Bette Midler a total of twelve times in public. I apologize.
Somewhere around 1985, when I was in Grade 11, our drama club put on “The Farm Show”. This was a collection of vignettes about farm life in Goderich, Ontario. In this production, I played two roles. In one, I was an overworked mother (is there any other kind?). I delivered the monologue standing inside an old wringer washing machine. In the other role, I was a grandmother talking about her legacy as she flipped through an old photo album. Never in my wildest dreams, at the age of 17, did I imagine I might one day be a real farmwife.
Well. In a weird twist of life imitating art, I have been asked once again to step on stage at Leslie Hall. Some twenty-four years later. This time, I will be doing my own version of a farm show, as The Accidental Farmwife.
This column seems to be getting quite a following, I was just telling Donkey the other day. It seems to appeal to the cityfolk, as reading about the farming life can be a romantic escape from the urban everyday. And for those who grew up on a farm or were “newbie” farmwives themselves years ago, it brings back strong memories. I am told that this column is read to residents of a seniors’ home in Chesterville, by their request. Someone even told me they prefer it to Mary Cook! Such blasphemy. I am no substitute: there’s room for both of us.
If you are a fan of this column, or if you are simply a fan of reading and writing in general, I urge you to attend the Seventh Annual Literary Follies, on Sunday, March 1st, 2009, Leslie Hall on Clothier Street in Kemptville at 1:30 pm. This event is a fundraiser hosted by Friends of the Library.
My personal relationship with the library goes way back. The entry beside my name in my kindergarten yearbook was “someday I want to be a mommy, and a librarian”. Growing up on George Street, the library was an easy stop off on my way home from school. Mrs. Groskopf, the community librarian, knew me well. Mrs. Folkard, the Kemptville Public School librarian, was also well aware of my love affair with the written word. She was quite familiar with my propensity for reading while in the bathtub, sitting in a tree or walking down the street. All of these habits can lead to disaster for both book and reader, and I had my share. I’ll never forget the day I tried to sneak my copy of “The Story Girl” – a tome some 500 pages long, back onto the shelf after having inadvertently dropped it in the bubble bath. The pages had swelled so that the book was forced permanently open. I think I paid for my sin by working a few hours cataloguing books after school. This exercise only reinforced my obsession with literature.
As an elementary school student waiting for my father to finish work at the high school, I would hang out in the library. I read my way through the entire Nancy Drew section. Teachers suggested I might be gifted and recommended IQ testing, as I was reading at a level much higher than my age group – but I was just reading whatever I could get my hands on. No gift here.
As a stay-at-home Mom in Barrhaven years later, the library became my refuge. Going to the library gave me a reason to get the kids dressed and out of the house in the middle of winter. The books, toys, puzzles and Story Hour gave the kids something to do, while I happily escaped into my latest novel or magazine in the lounge area. The blast of fresh air we received while walking to the library was at times the only fresh air we got all day. I think we went at least three times a week.
While I was in Asia, I ordered books online through Amazon and sent them home by the boxful for my girls to read. I buy books every year as gifts; I don’t think you can ever waste money on a book.
Just the other day I commented to a friend that newcomers to Kemptville must think we are a very cultured, fit community, with two gyms, an art gallery, three bookstores and a library all on our main street!
Soon we will have a brand new library building to host our new moms and tots, students, retirees, researchers and recreational readers. That’s something to get excited about. Friends of the Library are doing some active fundraising for this event, and they are handing over a cheque for $4,000 to the library building campaign this week.
I look forward to meeting some of the readers of this column, at the Literary Follies on March 1. This literary / musical extravaganza features performances from local authors, speakers, singers, and actors. And who knows? There may even be a special guest or two.


1 comment:

Pearl said...

Good to hear there's a good library underway!