13 Nov
The Mare's Egg

As your Halloween pumpkins begin to decay, see if you can find a copy of a colourful storybook called The Mare’s Egg. While growing up, my children listened to me read it every fall. The illustrations, by Kim La Fave, are worthy of being animated. The gullible, lovable hero of the story is reminiscent of Ichabod Crane in the animated version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, as are some of the spooky forest scenes. Every page of this book is bathed in a golden glow.                                                                              

I love Carole Spray's retelling of this new world folk tale, published in 1981. In the story, a very gullible young pioneer, who wants a horse, is tricked into buying a pumpkin from a mischievous farmer, who tells him it is a mare’s egg. For weeks, the pioneer sits on his egg, anxiously waiting for his colt to hatch. The story moves from this point to an utterly absurd and entertaining ending. I won’t spoil it for you, because I hope you find the book at your local second-hand bookstore, your library, or online. Children, as young as four years of age, can relate to the humour of the situation, but older children and adults will enjoy it too.

Reading this story makes me admire my own ancestors for the pioneering adventures they lived. They made decisions every day that determined survival. In my copy of The Mare’s Egg, the afterward contains a wealth of information about the experiences of our pioneering ancestors. It is easy to understand that gullibility might have grown from a desperate need to find solutions to so many problems. Today, as winter sweeps over our prairies, I wonder how I would have taken to sleeping in a sod house. Maybe someone unscrupulous could have sold me a fanciful invention to keep me warm.

If I had pioneered in 1911, like my grandmother did, it would have been because my entrepreneurial husband thought we could have a better life here in Canada, owning land, than we could have, renting land, back home. My husband, the boy in the Get a Bigger Wagon books, has often told me that if something seems too good to be true -- it is, and that hard work is the quickest way to get the job done. He would have ensured that no one took advantage of us. Having the right partner would have made the pioneering experience better.

On the other hand, I realize that some of my favourite people are the most gullible. They are the trusting, loving ones I hang out with when I am tired of the rat race. Speaking of rats, I am posting another blog very soon. I will share a story about the boy’s adventures in the nickel mines of northern Manitoba. He was a bit naive at the time and as lanky as Ichabod Crane. He learned the hard way about stope rats. As he says, “When men are bored, someone usually gets the worst of it.”

If you find The Mare’s Egg, online or in a little shop somewhere, please share your sources with me.   







Comments (2)

  • Nicole Haddock Kozar
    November 20, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Oh I love your comments Rauncie, and Mom, I love this blog! I was fortunate to marry a farm boy, who at a very early age, understood the value of a hard day's work. I am so grateful to his parents for teaching him how to provide for his family and get the job done; whether the job takes hours, weeks, or months! He never procrastinates, and I think this is because of his farm upbringing. He knows he has to use every hour of every day because who knows what tomorrow will bring! He would have been a brilliant pioneer. I would have hitched my wagon to his star even back then! Here's to making hay while the sun shines! Hee hee!

  • Rauncie Kinnaird
    November 13, 2013 at 09:56 am

    Maureen, I am now off in search of the book! Amazon.ca lists it http://www.amazon.ca/The-Mares-Egg-Carole-Spray/dp/0920656072 but I will try the library first. http://encore.sasklibraries.ca/iii/encore/record/C__Rb1028765__SSpray, Carole, 1942-__Orightresult__X3?lang=eng&suite=cobalt I often think of the spirit of the pioneer. I do think that the spirit and understanding of how hard work remains here. Is that part of what is propelling Saskatchewan and makes it unique? On my trip to NY I toured several vineyards. One of the young fellows told us of the importance of crushing the grapes on the day they are picked. Then told us the picking days are long 8-10 hours so often it is not possible. We quietly snickered. Not possible to work more than 10 hours in a day at harvest! Saskatchewan farmers and families know how to work hard and bring in the crop!

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