SEPTEMBER, you might say. Or, back-to-school month.
If you’re a writer, did you realize that September is–drum roll, please–“Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month”?
I kid you not; I just don’t know who exactly has the power to designate these special days. But for the sake of celebration, and this post, we’ll accept it. The entire month we’ll be kind to editors and writers. Especially one.
Yesterday, Sept. 1, was Emma M. Nutt Day (she was the first woman telephone operator). And today, Sept. 2, is (brace yourself) National Beheading Day (In this country? Really?–again, who thinks up these things?)
Sept. 6 is Read A Book Day, which fits our theme better.
Today I’m going to offend whoever decided on making this National Beheading Day. This is my blog, after all, so I’m declaring today “Appreciate Writer Mary Elizabeth Hoover Shepherd Day,” and the illustrated story we’re going to appreciate is “Stubby the Missouri Mule.”
In the state of Missouri, where summers can be dreadfully hot and the winters are beastly cold, all the farmers called him Stubby because he was the most stubborn little mule anyone had ever seen. (I’m going to paraphrase the story and include two of my mother’s hand-drawn illustrations. The story was written in 1961 when Mom was 43, and it most recently appeared in 1991 in “The Writers Bloc” of THE FT. SCOTT TRIBUNE.)
One day, a blizzard moved in quickly. Farmer Jim opened the barn and began moving his animals to safety. But not Stubby; he kicked up his heels and ran farther into the pasture. When his momma called, he pretended not to hear, and when the farmer looked for him, Stubby hid. At first he had great fun. Then it got dark, and cold. And scary. No one came looking for him, and he was lost. He startled a skunk and got sprayed; he was hungry–and smelly–but where was the barn? (Lots of misadventures happen.) Then, after Stubby’s dark, lonely night, by morning light he saw the barn in the distance. Instead of being angry, Farmer Jim welcomed the little mule, and Stubby happily jumped in a snowdrift and rolled and rolled to get clean. That night, when the farmer opened the barn to shelter the animals, Stubby didn’t even have to be called. For once, he’d forgotten to be stubborn.
I apologize for my CLIFF’S NOTES summary of a charming story for children, but I also honor the author, Mary Elizabeth Hoover Shepherd, by declaring today, September 2, as her day on this blog.
September is “Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month.” When a writer is 94 and doesn’t remember her story of a darling stubborn Missouri mule, or any of her other stories, articles and poems, a little kindness and appreciation by those of us who do remember for her is the least we can do.