The Snow Child – by Eowyn Ivy

Homesteading could be thought of as establishing a business. It is a brutal business; dependent on what you understanding is of farming unbroken land, and your ability to do that. It is a gamble with the elements, the weather, the soil, and your ability to keep on working no matter how sick or tired you might get. After all, you could endure several years of drought, followed by flooding that would wipe all your labor out.

It is the mid 1920s. In order to succeed, you must be ready to learn — quickly — what will grow on the land you have, and how to take care of it. Mabel and Jack have left everything they know in Pennsylvania, where they lived all their lives, to attempt homesteading in Alaska. Eowyn Ivy does not specify where in Alaska they are — only that the land is a mountainous wilderness with miles of trees and hills between each homestead and the nearest town.

They both wanted to have children, but were not able to do so. They lost their first child, and Mabel could not conceive again. She hoped that the closeness to nature in Alaska, as well as the enforced isolation from family and friends, who all expected them to have several children, would help her spirit to heal.

The Snow Child is a sophisticated take on the fairy tales of spirit children coming to parents who want and would love to have a child above all else, as well as legends of feral children, of which at least some of those fairy tales may be imaginative descriptions of feral children, who grow up in the wild with little or no understanding of how to get along with people, and were later compelled to take part in human society. Those children invariably created havoc along the way.

Faina, a child of perhaps six or seven, watched her father die. He had been a hunter, trapper and a recluse, who taught his daughter to be more at home with the wild animals than with people. After his death, she miraculously survives on her own through the Alaskan winter by trapping small animals, and foraging for wild plants during the summer. Jacob and Mabel, in love with the winter-land beauty around them, go out one evening to build themselves a snow child. She has yellow straw for hair, a red scarf and mittens, supplied by Mabel, and an artfully carved face, by Jack.

In the morning, the scarf and mittens are gone. Jack catches a glimpse of a child running through the woods, barely leaving any footprints. She wears the scarf and mittens, and she runs much faster than Jack, a healthy grown man, can. The first time he sees her, he quickly loses sight of her in the woods, because he cannot keep up with her. He is caught, stiffly wading through snow, while the child skims across the surface, barely leaving a footprint. When Mabel learns of this child, she considers her to be a sprite, born of her longing for a child of her own.

The writing is stark, simple and what is often called luminous. Half myth, half what could have been, it is a story of love and growth, which is what the great myths and fairy tails are all about.

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About Genevieve

Genevieve is a ghostwriter, specializing in memoirs, biographies and novels for her clients, since 2002. She loves her work, Her blog is a hodge podge of whatever happens to be on her mind when she sits down to write. Her essays may be about anything from family life, to politics, to good grammar. Come read it at http://thebestword.net/wordpress/ and leave a message.
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2 Responses to The Snow Child – by Eowyn Ivy

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  2. Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful
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