Steeple in the Distance

“My golden birthday,” she mused. She straightened the dress and pulled the doll’s braids forward. “I always told you I would be a woman truly when it came, and it has. Now I shall have to live up to it.” She patted the doll. “It’s your duty to keep the journal safe,” she charged a second time and renewed her earlier promise. “I’ll write grand thoughts in it, thoughts as become a woman, for that is what Vati has given me in letting me chose about school, and I’ll prove I can be.

The year is 1915. Annabelle Kathleen Delainey called Nan, thinks that at 15 she is ready to be a woman. Confident her statement will make it so, she eagerly assumes the responsibility of being the sole mistress of the farmhouse. She is certain that “grand thoughts” will come with it. She learns that becoming a woman means dealing with change: the change in the family from her mother’s death the previous year, the changes that are demanded on the farm, the changes in her relationships with her brothers, the changes within herself. Stirred into her stew of changes are an opinionated classmate, a cantankerous neighbor and several unexpected suitors. She learns that dealing with the challenges of daily duties, failures, irritations, annoyances and intermittent successes, do not inspire grand thoughts.  Nan finds solid ground under the shifting changes when her view is focused upward, up to the cross on the steeple of the Lutheran church.

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