Saturday, November 28, 2009

Obstacles



Once upon a time, in a hard and snowy landscape, there was a girl who owned an audacious green hat. Her mother and father had tried to talk her out of the hat; it was brazen, impractical. But the girl needed the hat, and had a habit of being so stubborn and so mean that, in the end, her parents were no match for her.

Every afternoon, after the lunch boxes were shut and the tables wiped down, a little war waged on a North Dakota playground. Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School, red brick and mortar, sported a fabulous hill just right of the playground. And every day after lunch, that hill was the grammar-school version of Braveheart, I kid you not.

I think a lot of kids played King of the Hill when they were young. But, truly, King of the Hill in North Dakota was not far from Survivor:Antarctica. Good Luck trying to fight your way to the top of a snowy peak against strapping Swedes, Norwegians, Danes. Those Angelic looking cretins, with their white-blond-hair and sky-blue eyes and chapped lips and stocky, impenetrable bodies...well, let's just say that some scrawny-legged European hybrid was no match for them.

Every day, the little girl in the green hat would stumble and claw her way up the hill and every day, she got knocked to the ground, mouth bitter with dirt and snow and defeat. Hill: 246. Little Girl: 0.

She'd trudge home, slumped with defeat, sulk over her snack and complain to her mother about how unfair it was, how cruel. How much would it cost the cretins, just once, to let her stand at the top of that hill?

"Not everyone gets to be the winner," her mother said.

One day, on a frigid winter afternoon, a man decided to surprise his wife and come home for lunch. He put on his heavy coat and scarf, cringing as he opened the door. He hurried to his car, feet already halfway frozen, cursing the wind and the ice that slowed his progress.

He drove home slowly, wary of ice patches, and as he passed Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School, he noticed the playground was empty. It was too miserable a day for even seasoned North Dakota Scandinavians.

But as he drove, a flash of color caught his eye. There, on top of a lonely hill, stood a small figure. Standing tall, right there at the top, frozen half to death. But smiling all the same. Green pom-pommed hat waving in the wind.

This is not my story. I've always wished that it was.



This story belongs to someone far more ferocious than I. Happy Birthday, sis.

39 comments:

  1. What a great story, TKW. Thinking of you and your sister today...

    (PS: You ARE that ferocious. She just happened to beat you up that one particular hill.)

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  2. Oh my. I love this story. And you tell it so well. As one of five sisters and mom to two more, I am big on sister folklore. What a wonderful tribute to your sister on her birthday. And I love the imagery of the green hat against crisp white snow. Lush stuff indeed.

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  3. I love it! I You defnitely have a knack for telling a story. This story is proof of why I enjoy reading your blog. Happy Birthday to your sister.

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  4. This makes me want to know that tough, sensitive, persistent, feisty kid! I'm guessing she's a helluva woman today. Happy birthday to your sister!

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  5. your blog is awesome have you read Jamies lifes a feast she write a lot like you lol

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  6. This must be the day for sister birthdays! What a remarkable story, so touching in your re-telling. My sisters are far more ferocious than I am, but they need their complacent sister to remind them of Planet Earth. I think.

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  7. What a great story! Yeah, I never would have made it up that hill. I would have stopped trying, gone home, and pretended that I never wanted to get up that dumb hill in the first place.

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  8. Sweet sister story. I'm a sucker for these.
    The first winter that we lived in WI, having moved there from NC, Santa brought sleds. The kids wanted to go to the sledding hill they'd seen to try them. Beautiful sunny day...why not? They did.
    That was the day that we learned "beautiful, sunny days" in WI can be minus 35. I felt like bad mother of the decade! We were quick learners. The response to "May I go out and play?" was "What's the temp?"

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  9. What a beautifully told story! And a sweet tribute to your sister's determination. Sending extra happy birthday wishes her way!

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  10. Such a great story! Happy Birthday to your sister, I can only imagine what an amazing woman she grew up to be based on that story.

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  11. Love, love, love this story. My favorite part is the description of the Scandinavian cretins. Such a great visual.

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  12. Thanks, everyone, for your supportive, wonderful comments. This is always bittersweet day for me; hard to get through but still... you puzzle together past history, find a way to honor it, weather through.

    You are the best.

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  13. my husband lived in lansing north dakota for a long while and he never described it as well as you just did. i love this story.

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  14. I do wish I could write like you. My daughter's birthday was yesterday and I wish I could put it in words like you do (I almost called you) but I used photos of her birthday's, my easy way out.

    Happy Birthday to "sis". I have two sisters (middle child here)! I'm glad you can weather through, let us know if we can help!

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  15. This is one of my favorite posts yet. You are such a talented writer, sweetie.

    And Happy Birthday, Witch's Sister!

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  16. YOU NAILED IT!
    Happy birthday to the girl with the green hat. I am sure she is still there.

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  17. Happy Birthday to the Witch's Sister with the Green Hat! *insert music from Rocky*
    jc

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  18. I love this, Kitch.
    And sisterhood - I love that too. All that is woven into the relationship of sisters. Likes and dislikes. Similarities and complete differences.

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  19. Great story. As an only child I envy you your sister. I shall carry your story with me and think of how I might apply it to current situations. I'm sure it will be useful.

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  20. Nice story, well told and such a lovely tribute to your sister!
    I have been reading you for a while now and trust me when I say: you also are a determined and confident woman. I think your mother's comment to your sister ("not everyone gets to be the winner")was very smart of her and probably made you both determined women.

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  21. I love the pictures and the story. Your sister is a strong North Dakotan! Happy Birthday K-witch sis.

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  22. Not everyone does get to be the winner, but the determined ones usually do.

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  23. Beautiful story and great hat!

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  24. Happy birthday Green Hat! I wish this was my story,too!

    Dana, how do you do it? With every single post I laugh and cry at the same time :) Beautifully written!

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  25. Wonderfully written KW! Happy Birthday to your sister! :D

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  26. Great story...and better writing!!! Loved it. Happy Birthday to your sister! She is obviously lucky to have her sister.

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  27. Hey there! I just found your blog from a mention of it on Debbie's blog (feast for the eyes) . . . you have a fab wit that I'm going to begin to follow. The photo of the snow reminded me of my childhood in the Midwest and your photo of your child in the pot on the stove is just a HOOT! Gotta love it! Roz

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  28. And what a fabulous story it was :D You know me, I teared up. At the last line.

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  29. What a champ! I loved reading this! I can picture her standing on top smiling! :D

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  30. Now that? Was good stuff! LOVED this. I'll bet your sister loved reading this too. KUDOS. (to you both) :)

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  31. Man, how do any of us survive childhood?

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  32. Great story! I love it! And I thought to myself as I read it - she'll work out a way! And she did! Like the twist! Happy Birthday to your sister! xxx

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  33. Thanks everyone...yeah, she's a stubborn one, that sis!

    I definitely would have given up--pronto. I'm chicken like that.

    And Nap, you are right...how DO any of us survive childhood?

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  34. Bitchin' hat.

    And I'm still not sure it's fair that you're an awesome cook and writer who's successfully juggling three children and a husband.

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  35. What a great tribute! Very well said. And kudos on the green hat, sis.

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  36. How big of you D! xo Tink

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