The very true story of Gertrude Maud.
A long, long time ago, last Sunday, a little girl was born. So begins the very true story of Gertrude Maud.
Gertrude Maud was born in a bin. “No, no! Not a bin!” I say. “Gertrude, you can’t start your story by telling such lies, it’s not very appropriate. We get to the ‘fibbing’ half-way or otherwise we are caught straight up from the beginning and not given the chance to display our storytelling skills”.
(You have to teach a thing or two to budding young bards in this life; from here on out, my thoughts and comments to Gertrude Maud will be in parenthesis.)
We proceed. Gertrude Maud was born in a bin (Oh God! - rolls eyes at stubborn wool child).
Her mother was a crone who brought her to life by magic. She made a bubbly soup of strawberries and poppies with a generous dash of goat’s milk, two chicory flowers, a sprinkle of wood shavings and the sticky blood of an Elderflower tree (oh my! she is rather good at this, I want to know more).
Gertrude Maud woke up, for the first time, inside a pot. Not a pot. A cauldron, sounds more dignified. Maybe a rock pot. Whatever. A vestibule of sorts (NOT vestibule, vessel of some sort).
Yes! that!! A vessel. She was a bit cold, because she was naked. Mmmm, maybe that is too undignified for Gertrude Maud. Maybe she ought to have woken up already in fashion? Mmmm…I have to think about that a little bit (Gertrude Maud likes to tell her story in third person, mostly).
Gertrude Maud woke up wearing a slip made by ancient fairies. That’s the ticket! Though old and fragile, the fairies are very much good at weaving, spinning and fashioning. Gertrude Maud was wearing a beautiful slip that made her look shiny and sprinkly (sprinkly? what’s that?); Sprinkly means with shiny bits. So, shiny twice, duh! Stop interrupting.
(Makes sign over lips of zipper shutting mouth closed for.ever.)
(Gertrude Maud agrees with above gesture.)
Her Mother Crone was delighted to see her. She had always wanted a magical child but she had been so busy perfecting her art, building her crone cottage, sewing her crone clothes and going up the ladder of crone magical prowess that before she knew it she was too old to bear a child. Nonetheless, the years of practicing her witchy spells allowed her to make herself a chubby child. Just what she wanted.
As a retired crone, with no more Boss Warlocks and Boss Witches to answer to, she lived a very comfortable life. An endless garden surrounded her crone cottage, where the walls looked like living things and not buildings anymore, completely engulfed by Mother Nature, just as if nobody lived there.
Every nook was covered in either mushroom, lichen or plant. Gertrude Maud sampled many delectable varieties as she was growing up, and when the vomiting started her Mother Crone would make it all go away with a simple flick of the wrist. Such easy life for a toddler. No harsh consequences.
But one fine day, Gertrude Maud woke up to find she was all grown up. No more diapers, no more wobbly walk. She was ready to learn to ride the elk, play with the bears, dance in the canopy of the oldest trees and find nests to muse over. Being a child grown-up was just the ticket. Just the very ticket!
Her Mother Crone let her play outside until it got very dark. How else could she wait for the fireflies and meet the moths? How else could she have tea with Mr Mouldywarp or play hide-and-seek with Monsieur Badger? She took lessons from Mother Owl and played kick-the-can with the bats.
Gertrude Maud went to bed every night with feet as black as crows and a sweaty neck from all that fun. Mother Crone did not dare wake her up to wash off, after all, the dirt outside is very clean, very clean indeed. Most of the black was dye from the bark of trees anyways, it doesn’t even wash off. Not unless you use the harsh soap Mother Crone makes sometimes to scour her favourite cauldron.
Aside learning how to fly, how to bake potatoes under the summer Sun, how to spin thistle down into yarn and to weave with nettles, Gertrude Maud learned to read. In many languages.
She started with Sumerian and Minoan, then learned Sanskrit and Hitite. Once fully versed in these four, she learned Latin, Armenian and Old High German…the list goes on. Right now she is learning Frisian, Norse, Basque and Welsh. Bless her.
Gertrude Maud says she has to fill her topper part with many words, because words are full of magic. And if you know many different kinds of words, then you can learn their magic. Some of Gertrude Maud’s favourite words in English are:
Sequoia, weald, swollen, nefarious, suckling, whiskers, knoll, weeping, pungent, timorous, lampoon, inoculate, scoundrel, hover, pudding, gnawing, cavernous, divot, chilblains, wistful, ballast, festoons, pickled, prowl, mackintosh, shrubbery, stow, begotten, sour, airborne, wicked, hobbled, sanctuary, cloth, prompt, utterance, golden, cabbage, frog, beech, wart, heartily, tipple, looney, shabby, buoyant, daft, poet, hillock and caper.
Such brilliant words. She has written them all down with spit and coal on a piece of rotted parchment she found under a willow basket, under Mother Crone’s bed.
That rickety old bed. Most beautiful bed in the world. Thick hay mattress, covered in nettle fabrics, embroidered in tiny cross stitches with Mother Crone’s name and birth date. Blankets and more blankets to cover yourself with and the fluffiest pillows full of lambswool and goose down. They make you dream new worlds, or so Gertrude Maud believes.
Life is grand at Mother Crone’s cottage. Gertrude Maud knows one day she will grow old, just like Mother Crone. One day she will wake up and have no more skinned knees and freckles on her face. She will have soft, billowy skirts, with little bells sewn in the hem. She will wear many layers over her chest, including a ratty shawl and a patchwork vest, with tiny squares, stitched with red thread by hand under the moonlight. She will walk around the garden, in a permanent stoop, aided by a sturdy cane, picked clean of bark by beavers. A basket will always be by her side: shelling peas, cleaning fruit or wool, cracking corn. Something. One must always stay busy lest the rot sets in, says Mother Crone. And like Mother Crone, maybe one day Gertrude Maud will learn the ancient magic ways and bring forth a child of her own to spend her days with.
Gertrude Maud hopes to teach this child the many languages she knows, with reverence and care, but also hopes to teach the gentle arts like how to whistle through a blade of grass, how to walk so softly to not scare the rabbits in the morning, how to dance in romance with the fireflies and how to listen to our trees. Gertrude Maud is very happy when she thinks about this. Actually Gertrude Maud IS happy.
I hope you liked the story of Gertrude Maud. She is a 17” Figlette doll that was made as a custom order; she was made with a bit of magic but definitely wasn’t born in a bin. She has a few more items of clothing, which we left out of the pictures so that her Mom can delight in the revelry of discovery. Kitty and Ian, you are not allowed to open that box!
The inspiration behind Gertrude Maud came from a little German girl that one day became a Mother and then a Grandma. Her whole purpose in life was to make both happy, and so here is Gertrude Maud, hoping to do the same for them.
Thank you dear T, for letting me create her for you. My words of wisdom are: read her ALL THE BOOKS. I have a feeling she will like Jane Austen.
Much love, Fabs