“Oregon sheep and shepherd going early to pasture.” by S.H. Marshall, my great-grandmother on my mother’s side.
There’s a story to go along with this picture. But it’s not about the Oregon shepherd himself, or the woman who photographed him, somewhere’s about the early decades of the 20th century, though that would have been a story, too, I’m sure. Â Every story my sister and I ever heard about our mother’s grandmother — the photographer and printer of the photograph above — was formidable; she was formidable, to the point that I’m sure sheÂ would have considered the term “battle axe” moreÂ sobriquet than epithet.
Here’s the actual story. We’re bathing the kids. Â Just before she gets into the bath, the lil’ monkey apologizesÂ Â to her mama, of her own volition, out of the blue, for having been rude a bit earlier. (Some sequence of events had not gone quite how she’d have liked, let’s say, and she stomped off and slammed a door shut. Her words in the immediate wake of the incident, to me as I was reviewing with her what had just happened: “I’m trying to get off of hitting these days. Slamming the door and saying ‘No! No! No!’ That’s better than hitting.” To which I certainly had to agree.)
Back to the pre-bath scene. The beloved shoots me a quick glance as she hugs the girlie, and I launch into a rendition of the music accompanying the big bone-wacking/ epiphany moment from 2001: A Space Odyssey. What with this unprompted apology moment feeling herstoric. As she clambers into the bath, our ever-observant girlie asks what the music was about, and her mama explains it was a joke to her; the girlie asksÂ what joke, and I Â launch into a whole dealie about how it’s from a movie, and this part of the music represents something that keeps happening in the movie, and then I’m off and running about human evolutionary breakthroughs, basically, and get all tangled up trying to convey the significance of the prehensile thumb and Cro-Magnon man’s discovery of the tool, and how consequential that was, and how it began to distinguish this great ape from other less great ones, and that’s how we pretty much branched off and came to be the planet-swarming, planet-defiling (okay I say these last two things just to myself), naked apes we are today. Â Meaning basically you and me, sweetie. Â
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