It was a Windy Day when I found Gypsy Mama

Lisa Murphy-Lamb is author or Jesus on the Dashboard, the director of the creative space Loft 112 and the mother of two boys. She likes Canadian fiction, the colour of farmers' markets and a good cocktail.

The people in the village called her Gypsy Mama but not out of respect. I learned this the day a rakish boy threw a rock at the angled woman and did not get a spanking from his own mama. She tightly held his hand, his mama that is, like my own mama did when when we lived in the Big City.

My mother no longer held my hand. She let me loose into fields where I jumped and floated with grasshoppers and butterflies, where I dug holes deep in the dark wet soil and returned home after dark smelling like beetles and beetroot. The hard-and-fast rules of concrete streets and traffic lights had been tossed away with open windows and hung-out-to-dry laundry and the respectful address of ‘mother’ and ‘father’. Now I answered, ‘yes, Judy’ or ‘right away, Bruno’, when I had occasion to answer at all.

Mostly I dug my toes in dark green patches of vegetation I did not know the name of. Or I walked down the dusty lane to a clump of trees by the highway. There, the undergrowth grew thick and tangled, and barbed wire coiled, hooking paper bags and an unlucky rabbit once upon a time.

Perhaps there was a rule that I shouldn’t spend time in the shadowy depths of this forest, but rules stopped at choked looks over chipped coffee mugs. And so I went when done exploring the old barn.

It was a windy day when I found Gypsy Mama. Not the one from town, but from a travelling circus, I guess. She lay in a box, tipped over, waiting to be fed a quarter so she could tell my fortune. It was a day I happened to have a quarter. And so I brought her to life.

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