Leather Shoes to Wellington Boots

Who were these courageous women,

Those who boarded the rat-infested boats – reluctantly?

They were women in a world of men; the women from Donaghadee.

 ~~~

Dislocated from their native land and kin,

Forever scarring their soul and spirit;

They adapted to life in a womanless wilderness,

Learned the hard way never to fear it.

~~~

These pragmatic women came, wearing a long skirt and leather shoe;

To the shores of their new-found country;

They bore in silence the misery of isolation, tragedy, disease, and hunger

 –  overcoming adversity.

 ~~~

These rare women freely chose to follow their men to a land remote,

Holding the wilderness at bay;

They hauled the water, washed the clothes;

Suffered bears and blizzards along the way.

~~~

Who ministered to the wants and needs of helpless masculinity;

With not a familiar helping hand?

Who shared his feather bed and bore his child in a far-away drafty log cabin;

Alone in this strange wild land?

 ~~~

They did: Charlotte, Sarah, Margaret, Agnes, Eleanor, Letitia;

Elizabeth, Mary and Isabella too;

They learned how to harness a horse, drive a team; wield a cross saw;

And paddle a canoe.

 ~~~

They soon lost their long skirt and high-heeled leather shoe.

 ~~~

In the wilderness they quickly realized the follies of frivolous femininity;

 This hardy woman donned woollen long-johns and wellington boots,

Displaying her diversity.

 ~~~

They learned to pack a rifle living in a cold harsh land where often survival

Depended on the taking of a life;

With a growing hungry family to feed they learned to take down a stag;

Bleed it with the quick flick of the knife.

~~~

When spring became freed by the bonds of winter,

He bid the family adieu;

He set off for destinations afar;

New supplies he needed to pursue.

 ~~~

Now left alone for days and weeks on end;
loneliness set in soon;

Her only conversationalists were the maniacal bark of the coyote;

The haunting call of the loon.

 ~~~

She kept a light always aglow in the window,

Bannock baked; venison stew simmering on the hearth;

For she knew he would always return to claim his dream

 – his own black earth.

~~~

Sometimes news of the death of a loved one from across the sea,

Someone she was never to see again;

Brought on feelings of hopelessness, resentment and despair;

Of treatment she thought inhumane.

~~~

One wild spring day, the swollen rivers overflowed their banks,

Somewhere in the middle of Saskatchewan;

Young Percy insisted he take the horses through the angry boiling river,

As his mother watched on;

~~~

He cried: With four horses strong, what can go wrong?

I know I can.

Eleven year old Percy drowned that day, performing the heroic feats of a man.

~~~

With the sagebrush relentlessly rolling on the endless plain;

That day his mother suffered treatment that went beyond inhumane.

~~~

They were men who didn’t fit in, the McCutcheons From Donaghadee;

They came and conquered the unknown;

These men didn’t accomplish it by themselves

– their partners provided the backbone.

 ~~~

They were women who survived a womanless world
– made their menfolk fit in –

  The Women from Donaghadee.

They gave us the legacy of history – now it’s up to you and me.

~~~

© Author – Angela Andrew.

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One thought on “Leather Shoes to Wellington Boots

  1. Rhonda Flanagan says:

    quite the folks 🙂

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