Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Story of Ruth

I'm doing laundry at Bob Hall Pier in Corpus Christi, Texas, when the Blue Bonnet woman walks in.

I kid you not.

This woman looks just like the lady on the Blue Bonnet label, only a little older, a little rounder. Her close-cropped blond hair tends to exaggerate her blue eyes, which really sparkle.

I apologize for monopolizing the washers and she just shrugs and says she's not put out. She has plenty of time, so she stays and talks.

And totally amazes and confounds me.

My Blue Bonnet woman, Ruth, lives on a 230,000-acre family farm in Nebraska, where she and her husband grow winter wheat, just winter wheat, under a government subsidy program. Her two daughters are grown and gone and don't want the farm. So it's just her and her husband on the 230,000, watching the wheat grow as they try to decide what to do with its future. In her spare time, she creates things.

She paints (oils, water colors, acrylics) and carves things like plates, bowls and little animals out of wood or stone and turkey whistles out of turkey bones (the wing bone, just before the tippy end). And if you buy a turkey whistle from her, she'll scrimshaw a landscape of your state, right on the bone.

She makes jewelry out of stones, sticks and other natural items and create furniture out of willow reeds and weaves pots out of pine needles.

She wants to teach me to weave a pot. I say "sure!" and wonder if she's a figment of my imagination or a real person.

I finish my laundry and we wave goodbye.

As I walk away, I have an urge to run back and pinch her, just to see if she's real.

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