Friday, April 15, 2011

Girl's Empowerment Day

Yesterday I participated in a Girl’s Day of Empowerment at Franklinton High School. I and three other ladies manned the Franklin County Arts Council booth to answer ninth grade ladies’ questions about our careers in the arts. It was the first I’d heard about Girls Empowerment programs but a quick Google search reveals schools and civic organizations are sponsoring these celebrations of womanhood all over the country.

At first thought it seems a little sexists. Why just girls? It is a little sad to think that the females of our species have such over-all low self-esteem that we need a day to remind us we can be powerful and successful in whatever we wish to be. But if it helps girls feel they CAN, then it’s a good idea.

My two books, Pale as the Moon and An Independent Spirit, have strong female leading characters with “I CAN” personalities. Gray Squirrel, a fictional character in Pale as the Moon, had a quiet spirit, but was able to rescue a small group of English colonists through her wisdom and intelligence. We don’t really know what became of John White’s Lost Colony, but we have strong evidence some did survive.

Betsy Dowdy, the lead character in An Independent Spirit, was daring, courageous and independent. We’ve all been taught about Paul Revere’s historic ride to warn the “British are coming.” You had grow up around coastal North Carolina to have heard the story of Betsy Dowdy riding her Banker Pony fifty-one miles, swimming the Currituck Sound in the process, to warn Lord Dunmore was heading for North Carolina from Virginia. Dunmore was stopped at the Battle of Great Bridge due to her warning. By the way, Revere only rode thirteen miles, no swimming involved.

I am glad I had a small part in yesterday’s celebration, Girl’s Day of Empowerment. I hope they learned about all the opportunities the world has waiting for them beyond high school. I hope each and everyone of those ninth grade ladies feel in their hearts, “I CAN!”

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Inspired by Wild Horses

The inspiration of my children’s books, Pale as the Moon and An Independent Spirit, are the wild horses of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. There are five main locations where the horses live: Corolla, Ocracoke, Cedar Island, Carrot Island, and Shackleford Banks. The wild horses I am most familiar with are the ones managed by the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

The horses have been designated North Carolina’s Official State Horse. North Carolinians cherish the horses for the part they have played in our heritage. When you think about it, had it not been for horses we would not have gotten very far in exploring and settling the New World. The horse helped us in our work, farming, transporting goods, in war and peace. And it all started with the tough, small, Spanish horses first introduced to the continent by European explorers.

It is a tribute to their toughness that descendents of those first horses still roam freely in parts of the North Carolina Outer Banks. But development and so-called-progress has dealt a hard blow to their survival. Because of the dedication of a few citizens the horses are hanging on, but for how long we don’t know. Its going to take a lot of people working and campaigning for these beautiful animals to survive.

The hardest thing for me to understand is the cruelty of some human beings. Why would anyone run down a foal with a four wheel drive or shoot these horses? If you find that hard to believe go to Corolla Wild horse Fund’s Blog and read the entries. If it doesn’t make you want to cry then I think you have a hard heart. If it does move you to tears then write your law makers and tell them how you feel and beg them to support the legislation that will help us protect our wild horses.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hope Springs Eternal

Springtime seems more and more a symbol of hope each year that I survive another winter. It’s not like I am living in the pioneer days where surviving winter really was a life or death experience, literally keeping the wolves at bay or having to find food in the middle of a blizzard. I read those stories when I was a child and loved how those strong and determined people of our early American history overcame all the obstacles nature put in their way.

No, I live like a princess compared to those stories. But, as I grow older the winters seem colder and dreary wet days make me depressed. So, I am a big fan of spring! The first warm days of March I make a beeline for the home supply stores, Lowes is my favorite, to buy plants. Yes, I know its too early and I’ll probably have to cover them up when another cold spell tried to keep a hold on winter. But, there is where the hope comes in because I know spring is right around the corner.

In April I start thinking of what annuals will look pretty where. I compliment my pansies for keeping such a brave front all through winter, smiling their happy little faces on the warm days and looking only a little bit sad through the cold snap. I know they will leave when it gets hot. Then I will have to replace them with begonias or impatiens.

When I go plant shopping I always buy a new bush, one that won’t really flower until the next spring or summer. Again, my hope is shinning through. I plant it with a little prayer that I’ll still be around to see it bloom. I add a few perennials with the same prayer. Hope springs eternal in the springtime.