It’s like this – the gander that was flapping my face, back and legs…
…while simultaneously biting blood blisters on my little three-year-old derriere didn’t know he was contributing to my future female assertiveness.
And being left alone in trees by older cousins while they went to play games assuredly built my self-reliance.
How did I get all this country-flavored therapy?
By being reared in a farm atmosphere with a pack of heathens for cousins, that’s how!
Descending upon Grandma and Granddad’s farm every summer made my cousins and me wacky. Throwing our shoes and socks over our shoulders, we screeched with pure, wild summer madness.
My gristle got a good start during those summers.
I was the youngest, shortest and most sensitive of the cousin pack *actually, they called me bawl-bag* which swelled in number from six to sixteen throughout the summer.
Our fun was simple in those days – we just created our own.
Running wild and barefoot, teasing Heir Gander (the baddest guy on the farm) and not minding our elders were outstanding activities.
Of course, not minding always resulted in a lesson on branch cutting (for switches) and a character-building session involving our gluteous maximi immediately thereafter.
Challenging Gander to a mad race across the barnyard was forbidden. And thrilling. Except for me. My legs wouldn’t get me very far before I was missing in action. A little wing whipping before being rescued by the cousins was worth all the grass-rolling hilarity that followed.
One day, Gander snapped.
Possessed by Hitler, Gander went for blood…
…and I was his victim.
Hair-raising screams brought a rescue unit of five or six wild-eyed adults.
After Heir Gander was slightly reconstructed by my hysterical mom, I experienced a grit-building event. My mom, with multiple pairs of cousin eyes staring, pulled down my shorts to inspect the gander bites. Snickering, then outright peals of laughter, filled the morning air.
That’s when I cried. Hard.
My strength was building!
Other times, when my cousins grew tired of babysitting me, they left me in a tall tree and told me to hold tight and be sure and not fall.
Hanging on for dear life—I’m afraid of heights to this day—I squalled until they came back. When they did, I was the center of attention. Merrily swung onto a pair of shoulders, I was teased, joked and promised games and stories. They even meant it.
I was all giggles when we returned to the farmhouse. Any notice of my red eyes or purple face was attributed to the heat and my allergic problems.
Experiences like these were difficult; but I’m glad I went through them and others later on. Why? Well, I have a theory:
A little grit in your craw makes life’s toughest tidbits easier to swallow.
Did you have any childhood experiences that “toughened” you up for later? We’re dying to hear about them!
Of course, a visit isn’t a visit without a two-way conversation. I really want to hear from you.
I truly hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT. The print version is on sale at Amazon for only $9.85!!! For your convenience, it’s also available for Kindle, the Nook and for most other eBook readers. If you love the Southwest and kooky little characters that make you laugh aloud as authentic danger and mystery swirl at every turn, you’ll love this novel! The second book in the series, CANYON OF DOOM, debuts in early 2013.
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Jodi Lea Stewart grew up smelling cedar berries and cow manure on a mega-acre Arizona cattle ranch wedged between the Navajo Nation and the White Mountain Apache Tribe Reservation. Her friends were Native American and Hispanic, with a few Anglos thrown in for good measure.
Her pastimes were singing to chickens, climbing giant petroglyph-etched boulders, hanging on for dear life in the back end of rattley old pickups driven over terracotta roads so washed out they qualified as mini-Grand Canyons, and riding one of the orneriest horses God ever put on the planet.
Traumatized beyond repair, she now writes novels in the hope of neutralizing all that craziness.
Before giving her heart to full-time fiction, Jodi cattle-prodded herself through journalism, western magazine writing, college humor writing, album-cover design/liner notes, electro-mechanical drafting, and into a position of managing editor/chief writer of a Fortune 500 corporate newsletter.
Oh, she went on to earn that dreaded BS in Business Management too, but she was pretty much an expert on one part of that degree already.
Jodi Lea Stewart now lives in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two standard poodles and two rescue cats.
Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi’s first novel.
Book Two in the series, CANYON OF DOOM, debuts Summer of 2013. Book Three in the series, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, hopes to come out of hiding sometime in 2014.