Wednesday, April 30, 2014


That's me when I was 4 years old in Theodore, Saskatchewan. It was about this time of year, April, that I was allowed to do something important all by myself. I was to go down the road for few hundred feet and across to the Egg Woman and bring back a dozen eggs. I wasn't sure it was a good idea. The Egg Lady had only one leg and in the place of the other was a wooden peg like a pirate. My mom told me it would be okay and I should just go to the door and say "Yaytsya".  That meant "eggs". So I did.

But when I got there, the house was actually just a hut, set back from the gravel road about a hundred feet. And there was mud. But I got to the door finally, and there was no door! There was a heavy woven blanket instead. So I couldn't knock, so I said in my brave 4-year-old voice "Yetzes!". And while I was seriously thinking about running for my life and never listening to my mom again, the blanket pushed aside and there she was. Not that much taller than little me, with the peg leg and the wart on the nose and the babushka, she beckoned  like the Hansel and Gretel witch "come in".  I came in.

It was a tiny dark space with a dirt floor and another heavy blanket (like the one instead of a door) hanging from a rope across the room dividing it in half. (I later learned that she and her husband hadn't talked for many years and had divided their hovel into halves to accommodate their enmity.) I stood there, trembling inside, hating eggs and my 4 year old life in general, when the Egg Witch bent over, grasped the dirt floor, and pulled up a trap door. How she did it I do not know, but she then descended into the earth and returned with an apron full of yetzes. She hobbled up, put the eggs in a paper bag, patted me on the head (which I initially mistook for a death grasp, but turned out to be merely grandmotherly) and I carefully, gratefully, took them across and down the road and home.

Mom was waiting at the end of the driveway, looking suspiciously as though she might have followed me all the way there and back, but who knows what really happened?