A friend said recently, “I’ve never seen your legs.”
Norah said today, “I hate my legs. Though your legs are nice.”
Our legs are identical.
But she’s more petite than I ever was.
At 5’7 back in sixth grade, my nicknames were: Oaf, Hulk, Moose, Skyscraper, and Wilt.
One time a boy in college (whom I adored) grabbed my leg and said, “Is that all you? I thought you had leg-warmers on.”
It was that long ago.
It’s ridiculous this loathing of my legs. They’re good legs. They’re great legs. I get around just fine on them.
When I was pregnant with Norah during a long hot summer of Santa Ana winds in Los Angeles, my son Flannery, a huge baseball fan at age nine, looked at my legs and said with great admiration in his voice, “You’ve got Mark McGwire legs! Dad, Lucy, look – Mom’s got Mark McGwire legs!”
Alas, the ankles do not, nor have they ever, tapered off. I never even knew what “cankles” were, but when I heard the term, I thought – oh yes!
I haven’t bought sandals in years sticking with an old black pair I’ve had forever – flip-flops yes, but new sandals?
I feel like my legs belong to my Irish ancestors in a field of potatoes in County Donegal or Limerick, Ireland, which is silly, but accurate, and my need to wear leggings (not leg-warmers!) has rubbed off on Norah.
Today she said, “I hate shorts.”
I want to say, “I’m sorry!”
The bright side is I never had to watch fabulous legs become ugly.
Or I could say what my mother used to say when I wept and wailed over puberty-too-soon.
Her response? “What do you want me to say? STOP? I have no control.”
No control – let it go – where have I heard this before?
(But this is not about Al-Anon. For once.)
So I’m thinking about legs because it’s 80 freaking degrees in March in Birmingham, which means shaving and/or shaving. We don’t wax or do creams or anything else except maybe pedicures.
And I should be thinking about global warming at my age and not freaking cankles.
But there are women in Alabama (and California!) whose legs appear effortlessly smooth, tapered, pedicured, and sculpted.
I am not them. But what I want, what I really want, is just to take my peasant legs out in public and not even think about them.
More than anything, that’s what I want for Norah too. Who cares?
So I’m going to buy a new pair of sandals this spring.
It’s time. And it’s hot outside.
And I am grateful for these peasant legs and for being able to walk and walk and walk.
* * *
IN MUCH MORE INTERESTING news, I sold a picture book to Schwartz & Wade at Random House.
I haven’t sold a book to a major publisher since 2007. I’ve had a mountain of rejections since then, but I have a picture book coming out in the summer of 2018 with my dream publisher.
Thank you, Ginger Knowlton, the most patient agent ever!
I still can’t believe it. The book is called “Ernestine’s Milky Way” and it’s inspired by my friend, Ernestine from Maggie Valley, who bloomed where she was planted, as she often told me when I was in Maggie Valley where my children’s novels are set.
Last year, I applied and attended fabulous Jane Yolen’s Picture Book Bootcamp also hosted by her daughter, Heidi Stemple. I learned so much. They gave me notes on a rough draft in Hatfield, Massachusetts, and I revised and revised and revised.
I get to go back to Maggie Valley again.
I hope to give a reading at Brenda O’Keefe’s Pancake House in Maggie Valley in the summer of 2018.
Anne Schwartz of Schwartz & Wade also edited one of my most favorite books that I ever read to my kids:
SWAMP ANGEL by Anne Isaacs
On August 1, 1815, when Angelica Longrider took her first gulp of air on this earth, there was nothing about the baby to suggest that she would become the greatest woodswoman in Tennessee. The newborn was scarcely taller than her mother and couldn’t climb a tree without help.
Angelica Longrider got under my skin. I gave it to everyone and read it over and over.
So Stephanie Pitts from Schwartz & Wade said yes a few days ago, and I am thrilled. She gave me great notes, and I’ll still be revising, happily so.
My first novel, OFFSIDES, sold in 1994 and came out in 1996. My next book sold in 2001. Then I had a good run – books out in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009. And then 2013 and now 2018.
I am not a sprinter.
I am a long distance runner on peasant legs making so many mistakes and misfires.
So here are pictures of as of late in our Alabama home and the ones Norah took at the Botanical Gardens.
No legs appear in these pictures…yet 🙂
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Shovels and Rope
Cherry Blossom Sky
Fried Green Tomatoes 🙂
Chris Clark – I bought his folk art (he painted on quilts) with Sally Nemeth my first trip to Birmingham in 2007.
My messy memory wall
New/old sign in Birmingham on First Ave South
Olive and Germy