Friday, May 6, 2016

A Cairn of Courage

Today I honor my wild women, the warriors who walk a rocky path with me, and are leaving cairns for those who will follow. 

I went to town on my day off.

I had to go to the Lost Sock Laundry to wash two loads of laundry. My washing machine went to old appliance limbo last Autumn and I have discovered that in this economy it is more feasible to go do the washing at the laundry than to buy or repair. Yes, it sounds odd, but there it is.  My dryer still works, so I can be in and out in 30 minutes. Two loads will cost 6$.

I try to combine chores when I drive to town, because the 11 mile/25 minute drive is more fuel efficient that way. The trip this week was to the Lost Sock and to Food City for a few supplies. It is odd the way I shop, because even though I work at Wal-Mart I do not buy everything there.

Part of the reason is that Food City has a program that gives you a 15 cent per gallon discount on a maximum 20 gallon purchase of gasoline for every 150$ spent. I can also go to their website and load coupons directly on my shopping card, and match up coupons with sale items for the week. The coupons available are very consistent with the coupon inserts that are in the Sunday papers, and that saves me 2$ a week that I would spend on a newspaper.

I really do not mind going to a laundry because I always find someone to talk to for a few minutes, most of the time complete strangers, but then, everyone is a stranger until we talk to them the first time, aren't they?

This particular trip found me chatting with a lady by the name of Cathy. She is from the Appalachian region originally, but lived in the San Francisco Bay area for about twenty years. Then, like me, she went through a divorce and came home to the mountains. This is indeed a marvelous area to heal your spirit and rediscover your heart.

Being in upstate New York for the first seven months after I left Moe was very healing. I have memories and experiences and friends from that winter that will ever be held in my heart. But the rebirth of Ellen, the reemergence of me, oh how I needed my beloved mountains for that. 

There is a strength to be found here, a resilience and capability and sense of self. Well, for me anyway. Oh, dear one, do not think even for one brief moment that I am complete, or that the 16 years since I last called South Carolina home have been easy, that there have been no trials or tribulations or stumbles. Paths are built of stumbles. We trip on a stone, or a boulder, and we fall face flat or bottom first. Always. Wherever and whenever we are. This is a given, a truth in life, that no woman is immune from. It is what we doing while sitting there with a stone bruise on eye level with the thistles and clover that counts. 

Our memories of lessons learned? Those are the stones and boulders that tripped us up. We carry them with us, sometimes just a few steps, sometimes for almost lifetimes. They go into a cairn. A monument of lessons learned and wounds that may have scarred, but by the Gods they are healed. Maybe riddled with scar tissue, but healed nonetheless. 

Our cairns are scattered along that path we walk. I envision mine as almost a cowpath, worn into the terrain of a hillside. A hillside littered with small and large pieces of limestone, like the rocks and boulders that are the leavings of the glaciers that formed these mountains and ridges and hollows so many, many centuries ago. 

This cairn is in Scotland, but quite fitting. Many of the Scot-Irish who settled here in the Appalachians of southwest  Virginia did so because this area so closely resembled their home. 


  1. Such a good, solid piece of writing. Filled with trials and strength to see them through.