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The Cove Journal
by JoDee Samuelson

Illustration by JoDee SamuelsonIt is a clear calm evening with a full moon, and the first Monday of the month. Some of us decide to walk to the Women’s Institute meeting at Alice’s house, two kilometres down the road. Alice has a large living room that can accommodate all of us, since our usual meeting place—the one-roomed school—is closed for the winter.

We are the first to arrive. Boots off, jackets piled on the bed in the spare bedroom, we gradually claim chairs or couches as others arrive. At 7:30 president Marylou bangs her gavel and the meeting begins.

Welcome everybody. I’m glad so many of you made it out. It’s a beautiful night tonight, isn’t it. Let’s begin our meeting with the reading of the Mary Stewart Collect:

Keep us O Lord from pettiness; let us grow large in thought in word and deed.
Let us be done with fault finding and leave off self seeking.
May we put away all pretence and meet each other face to face,
without self pity and without
prejudice…

Now we’ll turn it over to the secretary for the roll call. Vicky—present; Sue—present; Teresa—here… The minutes of the last meeting… The treasurer’s report… Old business (sleigh ride, new babies in community, letters of request or thanks)… New business (fund raiser for hospital/women’s shelter/school lunch program)…

It all takes time. Most women have opinions about everything and conversations head off into new and fascinating directions; until the gavel must be banged again to marshal the forces. Then it’s time for our guest speaker, who could be anybody from a member of the legislature, to a driver from Waste Watch. Usually one of our own members is the convenor, and we learn about the interests of people in our own community: beekeeping; working in a nursing home; traveling to Germany; cracker-making; crocheting; creating costumes for theatre; scrapbooking; dairy farming; or raising broiler chickens for Swiss Chalet.

Let’s give a big thank you to Louise for her interesting presentation on how to de-bone a chicken. (Round of applause.) We’ll all know how to do it next time, right? Well, maybe I’ll try it sometime when I don’t have company! I don’t think my knives are that sharp. Thanks Louise!  Now it’s time for lunch, so let’s say grace together:

We thank thee Father for thy care
Food, friends and kindliness we share
May we forever mindful be
Of Home and Country and of Thee.

There are some people who don’t believe in grace, or Thee, or Father. But no one can argue with sharing kindliness, or “putting aside all pretense and meeting each other face to face, without self pity and without prejudice.” I was one of those who was hesitant about joining the Women’s Institute, but I haven’t regretted it for a minute. Whole new worlds have been opened to me, within walking distance and often by moonlight.   

—Names in this article have been changed to protect privacy.

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