Saturday, August 15, 2009
Growing up in Arkansas, I was enthralled with the story of Petit Jean Mountain - - of how the mountain got its name. Grandma had an old Arkansas history book on her bookshelf and on those hot, muggy summer days, I would pull out the book and read the story over and over again.
There was a French nobleman, Chavet, who gained permission from the king to explore the new world in the 1700’s in order to stake a claim to the land for himself. Chavet was engaged to a young woman named Adrienne Dumont (who is a kindred spirit!!). When Chavet told Adrienne he was off on this new adventure, Adrienne asked that they be married immediately so she could go with him. Worried about her safety and comfort, Chavet told her that he wanted to check out the New World first and if it was safe, they would come back together and be married in the New World.
So……Adrienne cut her hair, dressed up as a boy and gained employment on her fiancée’s ship as a cabin boy. She gave herself the name of Jean. Jean soon won over the hearts of the shiphands with his(her) sunny disposition and they affectionately called him(her) petit Jean.
The ship traveled up the Mississippi and up the Arkansas River to the foot of the mountain. Native Americans met the ship and welcomed the visitors. They invited them to stay atop the beautiful mountain all summer long. The Native Americans fell in love with petit Jean with his(her) spirit and joy for life.
At the end of summer, the ship was preparing to depart for France. The night before departure, petit Jean fell ill. His(her) body was wrecked with fever, convulsions, and sometimes delirium. Jean’s true identity was discovered and she begged for Chavet’s forgiveness. The departure was delayed and the nobleman, shiphands, and Native Americans did everything they could do to help Adrienne, but her sickness became more and more grave. Adrienne asked to go to the top of the mountain where she liked to sit and look over the river. The Native Americans built a stretcher out of deerskins and bore her to the top - to her favorite place. She died at sundown. Her grave still sits in my favorite place on the mountain. As a kid, I loved to sit there on top of the rocks and look over the whole world.
Adventure……..love……importance…..joy…..these are things that stir my heart. Female characters such as Eowyn, Cora in Last of the Mohicans, Sacagawea, Queen Elizabeth inspired me - - they were both beautiful, capable and oh so wonderful.
When I was young, I wanted to either marry Bo Duke (sigh), Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller of course) or Little Joe Cartwright (yes, it’s true). I wanted a part in their great adventure……in their life….in their family. Every day seemed to bring great adventure. I would practice my skills climbing trees, swinging from branch to branch…..rolling down the car windows and jumping through them….moving cattle from one place to another. As a teenager, I learned to drive on an old dirt road and loved nothing more than to fishtail up a hill in my Ford Galaxy 500 pretending that getting up that hill in lightning speed was of the utmost importance (sorry Dad!).
Where did that girl go?? I think I lost her for a while…..but she’s baaack!!!
The X and I had a different sort of relationship. I would characterize it as more of the Desi/Lucy show. I would get myself in all sorts of mischief and complicated situations and the X would enter the scene and in frustration and exasperation, holler “Lucy!!!.” (I think he actually did use that name from time to time)….. He would come home, flour all over the kitchen from the food processor……..animals would be out……paint would be in my hair….whatever. I would look a bit sheepish and apologize……bat my eyes and promise to do better and he would forgive me…..roll his eyes at my tendency for the complicated…..and know that I would never change. The X came to my rescue many, many times from my adventures……
BUT……looking at my life now….do I really WANT to be rescued?? Really?? Do I want a man who will come running in and save me at the last minute (while I am kicking myself for getting in this predicament….again)?? Really??
What I want is not a rescuer - - I want a partner in crime…..someone to have my back while we storm the gates of hell with a water pistol…..someone whose eyes will brighten at a crazy idea and say, “let’s do it…” I want someone who will declare at 11:00 at night that he really wants to cook some wonderful creation with our bounty from the garden…..right now!! Someone who will listen to the sounds of my heart…the desires of my heart and not think they are silly or unattainable. I want adventure----even in the mundane.
Rescue me?? Nah…..let's get out of our predicaments together!