I recently recalled a memory from my childhood, so that I could “view it” again and include my recollection of it in my college application essay. It’s been quite some time since I went to college the first time, and I barely remember writing such a thing?! After I was a few paragraphs in, I thought maybe I should Google how to actually write a college essay?! I found more tips than I could read through, but in the few I did, they all suggested including an anecdote. Given that I was applying for a Masters in Nutrition and Integrative Health, I thought it would be good if my anecdote was food related.
There I was, maybe 10 years old standing in my auntie Mary’s kitchen in North Tolsta on the Isle-of-Lewis (the most northerly of the Hebridean islands off the northwest coast of Scotland). This small village at the end of the road was where I spent all my summers growing up and many of my fondest childhood memories are from this magical place. It was a typical day at 49 North Tolsta. There was a huge pot of soup on the stove along with the tea kettle, which was a permanent fixture. I asked auntie Mary what kind of soup she was making that day and she reached into the pot and pulled out a sheep’s head. I looked into the space where its eyes had been and gasped in horror, which I know auntie Mary thoroughly enjoyed! Auntie Mary knew I was a bit squeamish about things like that. Although I loved the island and the way of life, it was only mine for 3 months of the year and so I wasn’t fully immersed in the culture.
Family fun :)
Looking back there were many occasions when auntie Mary either humored me, or used me for entertainment purposes. Like the time she sent me to the hen house to collect the eggs. She gave me a basket and sent me off. It was dark in there despite it being morning. There were wooden boxes filled with straw suspended by rope from the ceiling that made comfy nesting boxes for the hens. One box was empty and I was excited to see a couple of eggs in it and promptly popped them in my basket. Plump hens had taken up residence in the rest. My instructions were that if the hens were in the box, I should just slip my hand under them and collect the eggs. Right! I tried, really I did, but I was sure that they were going to peck me every time my hand got close. I went outside to find a stick, thinking I could gently prod them and encourage them to stand up. This didn’t go too well either! This tactic gained me one more egg and having given it my best, I headed back to the house. Auntie Mary looked in the basket and seemed surprised by the 3 eggs. Sheepishly I told her that’s all the eggs there were. Years later, I found out that she knew all along but had sent just me for fun!
Every evening my uncle Murdo would bring the cow home from its day of grazing to be milked. Auntie Mary would sit there on the small wooden stool and make milking a cow look easy peasy. Over the years there were a few different cows in the barn. I saw all animals as pets and so naturally I wanted to know the cow’s name. Auntie Mary told me it was Daisy. Years would go by and no matter the cow, whenever I asked, it was always Daisy. It's just nice that she humored me :)
You’re probably all wondering how on earth I wrapped my Auntie Mary stories into my essay? Well, I kept it brief and just focused on the sheep’s head soup. I wrapped it in by saying that we hear all the time that there’s a health crisis in this country. We have moved so far away from the way our grandparents (and for some of us, our parents) ate and we need to find our way back, in some reasonable, realistic modern day way to this method of eating – real, whole foods! I then recalled my summer’s on Lewis where everyone had a croft where they grew vegetables and feed for their animals, they had a cow, a few sheep, chickens and at least one member of the family was usually a commercial fisherman and luckily for me that was my cousin Donald Murdo. Queue the sheep’s head story. I look back on these days and I know I was eating a healthy, nutritious diet full of homegrown, homemade real food and how valuable and precious that was. Although, I wouldn’t mind not having the image of that sheep’s head burned into my memory!
I’m not sure if this is what did it or not, but thankfully they accepted me in the program and I start this exciting new chapter January 2016.
Thanks for the memories, Auntie Mary!
Do you have any strong childhood memories? Share below.