A couple of days ago, I was buying a banana flavoured ice cream for my granddaughter (she loves the stuff, but I can’t quite stomach it), when I was reminded about the second Great War. It seems an odd connection to make, doesn’t it? But really, it isn’t. I barely saw hide or hair of a banana even before the war began, and by the time I was in the countryside working the farms there were even fewer, if you can believe it. A world without bananas was of course not only a world without bananas; it was a world without pineapples and rubber and milk that was fresh. What the world did have was sugared almonds, sunsets, hard work, and Polly. Polly was an inspiration, but I wouldn’t have met her were it not for the grace of God above. I’ve always believed in the right to live every man has at the fundament, life breathed into them, their spirits created out of the ether of the spirits. Humanity itself is based on the fundamental human life, each one, small, large, evil or good. And so I knew that the deaths of millions could not be avenged by more deaths, and in protest, I signed up to help on the home front.
I dug potatoes. I dug potatoes and helped the middle class townfolk do the hard work that their husbands and brothers and cousins had done before them. Of course, many of them being the tough old country folk that they were knew exactly what they were doing and resented a daft young city lad coming in and trying to show them which end was which. So it was really more for myself that I worked, and I did my best to help in what capacities I knew, as a young lad does. I stayed most nights in a small farmhouse, not the one that I was working on, since their rafters were already stocked to the gills, but one about half a mile away. It was a tiny little house, garden in need of weeding, itself in need of a good repainting and a bit of carpentry. Both the sons and the father had heeded the call of the country and queen and marched off to war, leaving the mother and three daughters in charge of the acre strong farm. It was there I met Polly.
Her mother was a voracious woman, and reminded me of a Valkyrie in size and personality. She was really the fullest woman I’ve ever met, stout minded and stout hearted. You can picture her pretty well in her mind, a short thick woman with a red face and red hair, strong, and wore mostly blue. She had small eyes that wrinkled with a smile or a frown at the first opportunity given, and that was the one thing my Polly inherited. Polly’s two younger sisters were interchangeable redheads in personality and appearance, fourteen year old twins with a, shall we say, “playful” demeanor. Freckled, unreliable little daemons they were. Now Polly, well, she was a brunette, much like her dad—he must have been a rather feminine man because she had a sweet, heart of a face and round lips so unlike her mother’s. She was a lot more rounded and muscular than you see in a lot of girls today, but she had to be, out of bed at 4 as she was. She had to have the pigs fed and breakfast ready before anyone else was even awake.
I met her because of God, and this is something I believe in vehemently.