May 8, 2011
A friend sent an e-mail to Alice asking her to describe her mother. Read the rest of this entry »
November 14, 2010
One winter day when my grandmother, Martha, was twenty-six years old she needed to go outside and get some water from the well. The well wasn’t far from the house, but fetching water on a Dakota farm on such a cold day meant she either had to bundle up her two children–Marie, age four, and LaRue, a baby–and take them with her, or leave them inside. My grandfather was away.
The fireplace warmed only one room of the two-room sod house, so she spread a quilt on the floor, put the children on the quilt, gave them some bread, and placed two dolls she’d made of wooden spools on the edge of the quilt for them to find when they’d finished the bread. She grabbed a woolen shawl and a pail and set out. In a few minutes she’d be back. They’d hardly notice her absence.
She started down the frozen path to the well. Blades of sunlight gleaming off a mower struck her eyes. She raised her right arm to block the glare and hurried on, worried that the children might crawl in the opposite direction from the dolls, toward the fireplace. In her rush she didn’t see the thick wedge of ice around the well’s wooden skirt. When the toe of her boot hit the wedge, she slipped and tumbled headlong into the icy water.
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