If Wishes Were

EggsThere’s an old Scottish rhyme, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” It’s been around for 400 years, and as the folk tradition goes, modified through the years. I learned a version that included, “if wishes were eggs, I’d have some fried.” Singsong, fun to imagine your own, “if wishes were…”

Here we are in the middle of the most un-wished for thing: a pandemic. And one month into quarantine, people show their true colors.

There are those who are absolute proof of Darwinian concept. They protest the lockdown and travel in packs, maskless, with impunity. In states where governors dragged their feet, the virus is taking hold. For the many of us, we are hunkered down in varying degrees of isolation. And for the many of us, life has crashed down on them with lost jobs. If they could wish up a horse, they would ride away. Or if they could wish up anything, it would be their job. Their paycheck. No matter if they hated the job. It was the means to the eggs, which are also in short supply in some areas.

I’m fortunate that my job is home based. As an author, not attached to a publisher at the moment, money was already tight. Fortunately, my husband is fully employed, working in our upstairs office. Our mid-sized town, which depends on tourists, is badly bruised. Friends with restaurants and small businesses are shuttered and worried.

My coping skills come from a rural upbringing, where a garden fed our family of seven, my mother made everything. I mean everything. Meals. Canned foods to get us through the winter. Clothes (yes she would have been turning out hundreds of masks right now). Home remedies for colds and stomach ailments. Games (play-do from cornstarch). My father kept the garden thriving and put a ton of potatoes and root veg in the dark corner of our cellar. He could tinker with and fix anything with a motor. He raised (and led to slaughter) chickens and steer. From all this? I know how to do stuff. I’m a fan of the TV show CHOPPED because nothing makes me happier than pulling things out of the fridge and turning them into something.

I don’t have to wish for eggs. And I was able to snag 20# of flour before it became a scarcity. We have pantry shelves, not unlike my mother’s, that are well-stocked. Hers held fruits and pickles and jams. Mine have black beans and pink beans and dried peas and tomatoes and brown rice and white rice and lentils and chicken stock and so on. And that 20# of flour. I can chop my way through this.

But, I didn’t mean to write about me. In this wish-less time, there are so many who not only don’t have the flour. Increasingly, they can’t buy the flour. I know in my deepest heart, what it’s like when you worry about that roof over your head. Despite my parents’ ability to keep us fed, on a regular basis the sheriff would show up at the day, on behalf of the bank, looking for their $50 mortgage payment.  I was both proud, and embarrassed, to wear a home sewn dress to my eighth grade graduation dance.  No one wants to wear their poor. The man who delivered milk would skip a week if the bill wasn’t paid. When you’re counting on the outside world to keep you afloat. With work. With health care (we had a country doctor who not only came to your house, would accept a chicken in payment if you had nothing else).

Another rhyme I learned young, probably as spin-off from the first: “If I had some eggs, I’d have ham and eggs; if I had some ham.” If you’re vegan, substitute tofu and lentils.

Complain about masks? Doubt that the curve can be flattened? Get over it.


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