From A little Mermaid

Because there has been so much more rain. I feel like I am swimming through the days. Yesterday it simply poured almost all day. Again.


The rain carried dread with it. We wish for rain, but too much of anything carries its own punishment.


I thought of mermaids as we sloshed through huge murky puddles feeding the drenched birds in the fields. They all have covers but the ground is waterlogged.


I loved the idea of being a mermaid as a child until we read that terrible story of The Little Mermaid. How her tongue was cut out and and she had to dance to entertain the man she loved, but every step was like knives.  Knives are a strong symbol in this story. I saw the ballet as a child and the elegance of the girl, her beauty in pain, giving up the sea and her sisters for an ungrateful prince who only loved her for her face and never knew her thoughts or words or where she came from or who she was then casually sauntered off and married someone else anyway – well it was all pretty powerful stuff. Shocking really. But people are complicated creatures. It is a beautiful and terrible story – just like life.


I think when old Hans wrote that one he must have been in a fiercely bad mood.  I always thought that He hated mothers and pretty much had no respect for women in love. After The Little Mermaid,  as a child, I determined never to love anyone that much. I would never lose my tongue for someone.  I would never dance on knives for someone. And I would never leave my family or lose the sea for someone. I guess he got his lesson across. Though i am sure that was not his intention.

But yesterday as I slogged through this destructive weather falling in the guise of good clean water, I realised that at one time or other in my life  I had done all of these things.  And I wonder if I have done these things for myself or for someone else.  Selfish or selfless. Which is worse.  As women we must hold to the line. Be strong, decent and kind. And the best person we can be. It is so hard to actually know what it is that we really need and who we really are. But  mute beauty quickly loses its appeal.

Today Allison and Kim leave.  Their visits feel like they have been so short. Yesterday due to this endless run of wet weather (that is turning colder now) we reworked Poppy’s present pen into a farrowing space.  She cannot farrow outside in this, the fields are lakes and more rain is on the way. So we worked Fast. I have learned all those hard lessons from Charlotte and I think this one will be as good as I can make it without putting her in a farrowing cage. Hopefully the little piglets have plenty of spaces to hide from her hooves and a lovely safe sleeping space under a warm light in a warm space made of bales of hay through the wall.

The cows are mooing. The rain seems to have stopped for the moment and I can hear Kim and Allison racing through their chores before they leave for the big city. John is working Saturdays again, so now I am back to being alone all day for the first time since Fede came. I do not mind being alone, not at all. But it will be a radical change.

My next farm visitor is a physics teacher who comes on the 6th of July. So we have a gap to get Poppy through her farrowing with only me as company. I left this time free of people on purpose. Poppy needs absolute quiet. She is an excitable pig. I am not sure how she will be as a mother – we will see.

I hope you all have a good day. Remember no cutting out of your tongue and no dancing on knives. Not for anyone.

Off I go into the mire.





39 Comments on “From A little Mermaid

  1. I always thought it was a terrible story, I too used to wonder why on earth it was written. The dancing on knives imagery was emblazoned into my psyche. I hope the water eases and the farrowing goes well. xxx

  2. This is an excellent post, c. Thoughtful, touching, and it’s bound to linger in my thoughts all day. Wishing you a peaceful weekend, and much love. xx

  3. Vita Sackville-West, whose husband Harold Nicolson was a diplomat & traveled often while she stayed home in the Garden, wrote in one of her essays that coming home after seeing the train off to the empty coffee cups on the table was the saddest thing of all. It’s true. I too am fine alone. I enjoy it, but I’m never so lonesome as just after loved ones have gone. I wander through the empty silent rooms where there was talking & laughter, before I get busy & put away the remains of companionship. I hope your rain stops now for some drying sunshine. . We had a promise of rain last night which looked like it & rumbled but not a drop in my yard & garden. Maybe today as we need it here in our Asheville mountain rain shadow. I hope all goes well for Poppy & she becomes an ideal Mama.

  4. “As women we must hold to the line…” After reading Anna Blake’s latest post (, Gifted Balls, I wonder if “balls” determine the degree to which we are at risk of losing our tongue, or dancing on knives. If you’re in need of an extra bit of laughter today, amid the wet dread, Celi, I recommend reading (the first part of) that post. (Also, I’m very sure that you would love her other blog, on listening to horses, as her uniquely beautiful psychology-philosophy applies universally, I think; to all animals, including us. In fact, I think you are kindred spirits.
    Now I think I’ll go and up the tempo of my anti-rain-dance for you.

  5. Enjoy the silence for your own thoughts, but take care the ground can be slippy. I will heed your wish: No cutting out of any tongues and no dancing on or with knives! May Hop & Pop have an easy time popping her pig/lets.

  6. Ah, Miss C., you’ve done it again. You’ve expressed candidly what I’ve so often hidden even from my own thoughts – the silencing of my tongue, dancing on knives, and all the rest, for someone else. Thank you so much for your gift of words. And the post of JMCheney above is also spot on: I’m fine in my usual state of alone-but-never-lonely…until I have guests and then they depart and I have two wine glasses to wash instead of one.

    I’m still in monsoon season Shanghai so can relate to the super-sogginess but will return to dry, dry California soon so am trying to figure out how to pack up plenty of this lovely rain for my poor drought-stricken state.

    I’ll be on my next trip (to Spain for the final stage of my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela) when Poppy is farrowing so am hoping for the best and braced for the worst, as I am sure you are as well, given that the insemination was outside the norm and her appearance is rather svelte for a pregnant sow.

    The Fellowship and your own fortitude will get you through whatever comes, as always, Dear Celi!


  7. So many of us do it though, don’t we…the holding onto or even more severe cutting out of the tongue and dancing around through pain simply because we feel it is our place to do just that, as women. It is so hard for so many of us to find the courage to just stop, and respect ourselves, but so very joyful when the little steps we take to empower ourselves work, and we say “no more, for anyone.”

    • I agree Deb – I also found it hard to come to terms with the ‘guilt’ of not dancing to others tunes! I suppose back when I was raised (in the 50’s and 60’s) us girls were taught that women married, had children and sacrificed everything for them. We no longer had names even, except Mum and Wife. It took almost a life time for me to understand that I was still a person in my own right. I could love my children and anyone else without giving up ‘me’ !! Luckily the tongue stayed (although the dancing on knives seemed to happen a lot) and I can now voice my hopes, dreams and express love to mostly my animals, who don’t want me to change!

      • As a 60’s/70’s era young woman I feel as if I was pulled from both sides and grew up with such conflicting ideas about what I ‘should do’. It’s pretty profound how easily we internalize what society expects of us and feel the need to continue the back and forth dance well into adulthood and older age. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  8. Wonderful post and thoughts to take forward into the weekend. Thanks all!

  9. My daughter recently broke out her movie copy of the Disney version of Little Mermaid. She’s nearly 21 and she was aghast at the message the story sends to little girls.
    I wish there were a way to shake the earth like a snowglobe and right all the weather systems. We’ve gotten over our yearly total of rain already this year and we’re only 6 months in! That, after 6 years of extreme drought!
    I will send good thoughts and prayers your way for the milking of Lady A on Saturdays (without Our John) and the farrowing of Ms. Poppy. I do hope the darn rain lets up, as it seems to make tricky situations even worse—mentally and physically.

  10. It makes me wonder how we are all so educated in a similar way although living in the most different parts of the world. They’re so similar these advices we all got as a child how we should have to be. Exactly like you said: Be strong, decent and kind. How I loved this – oh, how I wanted to be strong, decent and kind – and how I hated it at the same time.
    I completely forgot the story of the Mermaid, have to re-read it. Thank you for the link. – I think I have these things done a lot in my life (wonder what the whole purpose is or was), included loosing my tongue…
    Being alone from today is indeed a radical change for you – yes. Keep up the good mood, Celi…
    And no – not only you are “company” to the Farmy now: We will support you as well as we can! And we will participate in all the adventures you have to go through – daily until 6th of July…
    Farewell to Kim and to Allison! Have a nice Sunday.

  11. The mermaid story frightened me when I was young. I put that story away in the denial box, (which is now the size of a walk in closet). I, too, have been like that mermaid. Thank you for posting this.

  12. Beautiful article – I can understand your feeling – we are going through our Monsoon time – landslides, waterlogged fields, roads, huge traffic jams etc. etc., but we still love this season, it brings much needed relief from an at times unbearable heat. And as a child I liked the story of “The Little Mermaid” very much.

  13. Celie, so much wisdom, And fortitude. It can be a benefit to hold our tongues, but the Little Mermaid’s fate was rather too drastic!

    You have my sympathy for the wet: Rain

    Essential for life
    blessed food or cursed flood
    welcomed, or dreaded.

    Welcomed benison
    to dilute the desert by
    greening the world

    Or dreaded excess
    to destroy crops and buildings,
    menace human life.

    We are frequently cursed or blessed with an excess of rain in this finger of land sticking up into the sea, but just now, I am revelling in warm sunshine, mitigated by gentle breeze.

    Bon courage and may your land drain free.

  14. I really enjoy your insightful words!
    Will send New Mexico sunshine your way and good will thoughts to Poppy and you, her farrowing coach!!!.

  15. Oh thank the gods for Disney! Mind you, one way or another Disney kills off the mom and makes the father a bumbling idiot and the princesses still must get by using their beauty and charm, so I don’t actually know which is worse.

  16. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never heard of the original Mermaid and didn’t know the story of the Disney version. Did Disney change it? Have to find and read the original.
    Strange that you should mention this. I’m reading David Brooks’ “The Road to Character.” There’s a chapter on George Eliot and how she was such a divided soul dancing on knives, as it were, highly intelligent but throwing herself at various men. Until she met her soulmate Lewes. I’m just at this point now and assume she becomes her own person.
    Oh Poppy will be in my worry drawer from now on–I sure hope everything goes well for you both. And goodbye to Kim and Allison. Thank God for them!

  17. We had that endless rain here for all of April and May. It put our crops three weeks behind. Then one day it stopped, temps were 64-70* then in the next two days we soared to 100* and above and haven’t seen the end of the heat yet. WHAT A YEAR!


  18. I suspect most women have lost their voices, given up something they swore they never would, and danced on knives for what they thought was love at some point in their lives. I know I have. With a bit of luck and more than a bit of wisdom, we are able to recover ourselves before it is too late. I’ve long thought that H.C. Anderson (and the Brothers Grimm) were deeply troubled misogynists with a mean streak a mile wide. The lessons they tried to teach were not ones I wanted to learn. Here’s hoping you dry up!

  19. I know you have entered the heart and soul of every woman who reads your words today. You take us down paths we fear to walk alone. You open doors we thought were permanently closed. You turned on lights in dark closets and turned out the contents of hidden cupboards. You reminded us of all we were and all we are now. Celi I wish you could send us a little of your rain. We face the driest summer in 100 years.

  20. I danced on knives and lost my voice for 5 years. After that, I swore it would never happen again, and I haven’t let it. I think it’s for everyone to be decent and kind, not just women… Celi, you’re a lighthouse of decency, kindness, thoughtfulness and candour, and you make us look at ourselves anew and wish we could be more like you. I wish you and Poppy a calm and peaceful farrowing, an end to the rain and beginning to the sun, your visitors a safe journey home and most of all, I wish Lady A will behave and your face will remain as nature intended!

  21. I never read the Little Mermaid nor saw the movie….yikes what an awful message. I am attempting to send you some of our too dry weather……you can return to us the wet weather that we need. Mother Nature sure can be fickle can’t she? We will all be thinking of you, the Farmy and especially Poppy.
    By the way I read your blog to my sweetie every morning- he so enjoys it.

  22. I too never saw or read The Little Mermaid story, can’t say now that I’ve heard it explained I’m sorry about that… Fortunately I’ve never danced to anyone’s tune but my own… I’m a terrible dancer literally and figuratively, and it’s my own tongue and choices that have made my life sometimes more difficult than it could have been. I agree people are complicated, and it is hard to know what to do and who we are, there are so many influences, but be assured from your amazing words today and every day you are a positive, inspirational influence. Through good times and bad, especially bad, it’s important we share that, dip into it, take from it and share it back and out.
    I hope the sun shines for you soon 🙂

  23. Early on a Sunday morning you have made me think and analyse . . . thank you . . . have loved just reading what the visitors to the Lounge have said. Age methinks changes things: I do hope I am still honest and caring and thoughtful but I have quietly spoken my mind for the longest time now . . . . in earlier years I tried ‘to please’ so very hard: now I just quietly walk away if I feel matters not working. Funny, I used to have quite some sleeping problems . . . now I sink into deepest slumber with the gentlest of dreams . . . that somehow makes me feel I am on the ‘right’ path . . . . oh may your sun shine long enough for the puddles to sink into the ground – dry thoughts and wishes from Down Under 🙂 ! Enjoy your own company for a change!!!

  24. I read avidly as a child, and I still remember vividly the first time I read Hans Christian Anderson. All his stories were so dark, not just the little mermaid story, but all the women seemed to come to terrible endings, I was sure he must have had a very troubled life or a very complicated relationships with love. And I found out later that I was right on both counts. Still, these stories and others like them stayed with me for life. I have never been happy to sacrifice the person who is ‘me’ to please someone else. I am still single now coming up to thirty, I don’t mind being alone, it is better than dancing on knives or cutting out your tongue.

  25. That’s a land of extremes…no wonder the pioneers were made of stern stuff ( as are you)….I’m very glad I never read that nightmare story of the Mermaid. I think Hans Christian Andersen was probably a pretty unpleasant person:)

  26. I hated that story too – could never understand why she left the sea for him! Your article made me think about the fine line between being alone and being lonely – food for thought. Sending you some sunshine from the East Sussex coast 🙂

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