Saturday, June 26, 2010

Never Learn To Milk a Cow

Virley Dunning is a local older woman - (well, so am I, but Virley is older again) - who writes. In a short piece, she warmly recalls her mother, who, coming from a Victorian upbringing, had great difficulty in talking about sex.
Virley recounts how when she was about 13 she was out walking with her mother, who suddenly said, "Have you noticed that Alison doesn't go in swimming some days?"
"No," I answered.
That was all. We kept walking.
And that was the totality of her mother's information to her daughter.

Similarly, on the eve of Virley's wedding, her mother's sole piece of advice was not about sex or even housekeeping, but: "Never learn to milk a cow."
Virley writes of her life as a farmer's wife, and the chores from endless feeding and cleaning to replacing ewes' retroverted uteruses -uteri?-, resuscitating lambs - with brandy as a last resort -, mustering bullocks - (even, in desperation, barking at them).
But, she didn't milk the cow. As she witnessed the gritty, mundane imperative of the twice daily rounding up and milking of a reluctant cow, she says that: "Thank you," I'd silently say to my mother. "It was great advice."
Affection. It's always a pleasure to read of, witness, or experience.

3 comments:

Relatively Retiring said...

Mother could have advised against learning how to replace prolapsed uteruses/uteri as well.
So many things a young bride needs to know!

Marshall-Stacks said...

Hi Frances - I followed you back here from your comment at Still Life In Adelaide.
The fabulous Ms Joyce Grenfell recounts in one of her great memoirs, the wedding eve talk from her mother, to which her response was "Don't be silly Mummy, one of us would have to be upside down".

Helen said...

They used to say the same thing about typing when I was starting out in paid work in the 80s. Apparently it was easier to avoid the pink collar ghetto if you couldn't type. I could, but managed to hide it until I switched careers to IT - heh, heh.