Anne Schroeder, a fellow member of Women Writing the West, shares an excerpt with us today from her new book, Cholama Moon.
Anne lives the romantic life in Southern Oregon where she moved with her husband of 45-years and two dogs from her beloved Central California in search of new adventures. Her favorite part of the gym is the spa.
Her memoir, Ordinary Aphrodite, is a funny, inspiring journey of small steps in a woman’s life.
Cholama Moon is her first published novel (Oak Tree Press). It is available on Amazon and in bookstores. The Kindle version will be available in May.
Connect with Anne at anneschroederauthor.blogspot.com
Sancho watched Ginny walk away, her spine so straight and determined that he was hard-put to swallow. With the grit of recall rubbing his insides, he picked up his kerchief and wiped his hands as if he could rid himself of his recollections. The story was the shame of his life—that was for sure. One of these days the little gal was going to press him for an explanation.
In the orchard, he let his mind recall the events. It hurt less, watching from the outside, looking in.
It was September of 1869. Caroline Foster Nugent pulled a lace hankie from her sleeve and dabbed at the beads of sweat running down her temples. The muggy fall heat had sapped her strength. She rested, probably grateful for the shade of the single cottonwood tree over the table where she trimmed the last of the roses. She glanced out at the hillsides of the Cholama Valley, a golden paradise where her husband’s horses grazed in the September sun. Suddenly she grabbed her belly. Without speaking, she gathered the roses, struggled to her feet and started toward the unfinished portico of the adobe.
Ginny, an energetic image of her mama, skipped up with another rose.
Mrs. Nugent pressed her swollen belly and forced a smile. “Ginny, darlin’! What a helper you are with Mama’s roses. Won’t Papa be surprised when he comes home and sees our pretty lil’ table! Can you hold the door? Mama’s just all butterfingers today. She has a tummy ache.”
Ginny ran ahead, careful her pinafore didn’t get caught in the door, or her waist-length curls, either. The new door was rough and scratchy. She waited for her mama and carefully closed the door behind them. “Where’s Papa?”
“Papa’s gone far away out where the railroad ends. To a town called Hollister. He’s going to sell our cattle and horses.” Mrs. Nugent splashed water into a mug and took a long drink. She poured a glass of milk and sat it in front of Ginny.
Sancho heard the scrape of a chair as Ginny helped herself to a cookie on a plate. When she finished, she touched her mama in the spot where her mama was rubbing. “Does Papa know about your tummy ache?”
Her mother’s laugh was like a bell. “Oh, no, Peaches! He would only fret. He will bring us back some gold coins so we can finish our house. Won’t it be perfectly ma’velous when the parlor is finished? Papa will buy us a piano and I will teach you to play. You’ll be a proper belle. A California belle.”
“Soon. Papa will ride over to Santa Cruz and see it unloaded from the steamer ship. It will come all the way from Boston.”
“We have to wait for your brother to join us.”
“Soon. In three more months.”
Ginny proudly held up her fingers. “I’m three months.”
“No, darling.’ You are three years. Three years is very big. Three months is not long at all. In three months Mama will be well again and we will have a Christmas tree and dried apple pie. And you will have a special gift.”
“A baby doll?”
“Maybe. A fine baby brother or sister, for sure. Won’t that be ma’velous? Papa will be so happy to have a son. Now let’s ask Sancho to get us some fresh water for our roses. Maybe he wants to help us.”
Ginny ran off to find him, but Sancho remained in the shadows.