A Cup of Tea and a Biscuit (Emma Squire)

by cheri block

Chapter One

Emma Ann Squire


Twelve sisters came together last summer in Nova Scotia to put Momma under, visit Daddy’s grave nearby, and select their keepsakes. There they sat in a different colored chair, each sister with a cup of tea and a biscuit. Decorating the northern rim of the sundial that is our family’s land, our eyes gazed across the Annapolis Basin and beyond to the Bay of Fundy.

In the far left Adirondack chair, the deep purple one, I sat–the youngest sister. But don’t let my youth betray my wisdom.

There’s a reason I selected the purple chair: My name is Emma and I am the Queen of the Squire sisters, all–but me– delightful women with little regard for their own needs who spent their lives caring for their land around this province, for their children and grandchildren, and for their husbands.

For the most part, life has appreciated their sacrifices.

How did Momma do it?  Raise twelve girls and tend to her husband’s needs?

The weather helped.

In the sanctuary that was Momma and Daddy’s bedroom, their snuggles to keep warm during the cold Nova Scotia winters produced eleven variations on the same theme. Some blond, some brown, most sturdy and active—all compliant, like eleven Labrador pups in one likeable litter, the Squire sisters live to make others happy.

My entry into the world marked the end of my parents’ sex life. Momma put her foot down. Enough is enough. Daddy would have to make a fire in the wood stove instead of in the bed.

After my birth, Momma sighed often.

I suppose my temper wore her out. After all, she was over forty when I arrived and unprepared for a redheaded baby and all of the gossip my hair color would create.

Where did that red hair come from? Asked everyone who came to the house with a small gift of baked goods.

She laughed.

Probably from some wayward great aunt back in Scotland, she answered, without missing a beat.

But she knew better.

Down west in Yarmouth, a red-haired French farrier drove the last nail into the hoof wall, tapped the frog, and set Darling’s hoof down.

All Rights Reserved. 2010 No portion of this book may be copied or reproduced for any purposes except for brief quotations in critical reviews and articles.
By Edict of Judge Blah.

About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
This entry was posted in A Cup of Tea and A Biscuit (a story of Nova Scotia), My fiction and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to A Cup of Tea and a Biscuit (Emma Squire)

  1. Man of Roma says:

    Excellent. As far as my intuition, perfect balance between style and content. Is it supposed to have a continuation? And yes, since often writers create characters out of real life experience I was just wondering lol.

    Ciao Sybil

  2. Red hair french men are few and far between unless his own mom had frolicked with some red Scot or Irish, of course.

  3. Man of Roma says:

    Paul, it’s true, but I have seen quite a few all over France. Maybe among the French that went to Canada there were few…but France having a Celtic origin many Gauls were red. People from the Italian Gallia were often called Rufus, Rufulus, Rufa, which means read-head. A famous poem of Catullus now comes to my mind but it is not appropriate to speak about it in a lady’s blog, I am not kidding. The Pagans were so different as for mores.

  4. Phil says:

    Before writing your story, had you, perchance, looked at some of the many studies done of child paternity over the last fifty years and more, which suggest that, on average, 10% of babies born in “respectable” societies were not the biological children of the husband of the mother?

    Hence when any of us wish truly to know who we are descended from by looking at our family trees and genealogical charts, we should always go through our maternal lineage.

  5. andreaskluth says:

    Oh no. I’m crushed for Daddy.

  6. I love it. Nothing is given too much or too little attention. And the way you punctuate the longer paragraphs with the short lines (The weather helped, She laughed, She knew better) imparts a poetic refrain/antiphony. Very nice.

  7. Man of Roma says:

    Where is the Italian Gallia?

    Gallia Cisalpina means ‘Gaul on this side of the Alps’ and corresponded to today’s largest part of Northern Italy, ie the modern regions of Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Lombardy, Piedmont, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and Veneto. They were mostly inhabited by Celts.

    It was also called Gallia Citerior (Hither Gaul), Provincia Ariminum, or Gallia Togata (Toga-wearing Gaul). The River Rubicon marked its southern boundary with Italia. In 49 BCE Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon with one legion. It was against the law to enter Italia with an army so civil war ensued (adapted from the wiki).
    I might be wrong but at the end of the civil wars Caesar made these folks part of Rome by bestowing citizenship.

    The dialects of most of these today’s regions (Piedmont included, where my father is from) are a bit closer to French than to Italian, not by chance.

  8. Cheri says:

    Hi Gentleman of Roma,

    Thank you for this detailed answer. I see.

    One of my Italian colleagues, whose classroom was across the hall from mine for 17 years (Folco), is from this region. He has silver hair and blue eyes.

    Perhaps he is part French.

    As you can discern, my history is weak, but I am learning with your tutelage.

    Grazie, mi amico

  9. Man of Roma says:

    Your history is not weak! It is obvious I know more about my folk’s history, and you about yours, whatever folks they are, American & hyperborean.

    Of our history it suffice you study a bit about Diana, Athena, and the Sybillae, since I perceive some survival of them in you …


    I forgot the Muses 🙂

  10. Well red hair is it, Cheri? Our Katie had red hair. My husband kept repeating, “She has red hair, Mare.” I saw the hair but the face was her daddy’s. It was astonishing and it was lovely, like copper pennies, like autumn leaves, like California sunsets.

    Later on – since we’re talking about how does this happen – I was informed that my grandfather McCart’s father, who drowned on a family picnic leaving my grandfather at 12 months an orphan, had a gorgeous head of red hair.

    So when the subject of hair comes up just toss yours, Cheri, and smile that Cheri smile and all will be right with the world.

    • Cheri says:

      Love the description and emotion in your writing and heart, MJ.

      If Katie had red hair, then my God, she was special. I have never met a redhead that wasn’t unique. True. And I have taught over 5000 kids.

      Tell us more.

  11. Pingback: A Cup of Tea and a Biscuit Chapter Two « Notes from Around the Block

  12. Pingback: A Cup of Tea and a Biscuit (Chapter Three) « Notes from Around the Block

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