Jodi Lea Stewart

Loving and Writing About the Southwest and the South

Bu++ Bites Build Gristle

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.

Being left alone in trees by older cousins while they went off 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 simply created it from basically nothing.

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 Grandma’s 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, echoed through the barnyard.

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 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.

I love to hear from you.

Just for fun . . .

I told you using unauthorized media would sour your stomach.
I told you using unauthorized media would sour your stomach.



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