Post #75 – Women’s Memoir Writing, ScrapMoir – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett
Memoir Writing Contest Winners Announced
February 28 marked the close of our second memoir writing contest for 2011. As the last of the entries showed up in our emails, Kendra and I realized that we again had a wonderfully large number of contestants. After reading them, we came to a conclusion similar to the one we reached last month. We had quite different stories that could be better judged if they were competing with those in a similar category.
We created three simple categories that reflected the range of contest entries — Wonderful Memories, Difficult Memories, and Memories of Life Observed. Then we re-read the entries and placed them in one of the categories. And finally, we choose the best story (and the best runners up) for each category.
Note: If you did not win this month, we urge you to enter one of our future contests. As we like to say, “You can’t win unless to enter.” There are a range of topics in the coming contests. For the complete list, go to: http://WomensMemoirs.com/contests.
Below is the list of winners. Today, we will publish the stories of the three First Place winners. One this morning, one in the afternoon, and a third this evening. We hope you’ll come back and read all three. The Honorable Mentions will be published beginning in July.
THE MEMOIR WRITING CONTEST WINNERS, CONTEST – REFLECTIONS ON GREEN
First Place goes to: Nancy Julien Kopp for Kissing the Blarney Stone
Honorable Mention goes to: Shelley Brungardt for It’s Not Easy Being Green; but I Like It
First Place goes to: Susan Payne for As Time Runs Out
Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order) go to:
Amy Hillis for Growing Up Green
Robin Dake for Army Green
Lynne Rees for Green
MEMORIES OF LIFE OBSERVED:
First Place goes to: Janet Caplan for Early Spring Day
Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order) to:
Pamila Jo Florea for Yippie Yippie Green
Jennifer Hazard for The Green World of a Child
Congratulations to all of these winners. We hope you enjoy their stories.
KISSING THE BLARNEY STONE
By Nancy Julien Kopp
A trip to Ireland wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Blarney Castle in County Cork for doesn’t everyone want to kiss the Blarney Stone and receive the Irish gift of gab?
I wasn’t sure I wanted to perform the deed, but I was happy to visit the castle when we were in Ireland a few years ago. Our travel companions, Mike and Mavis, live in South Africa, and meeting in various spots of the world is one way we have been able to spend more time together. Mike had mapped our itinerary, so off we went to Blarney Castle, me not quite knowing what to expect.
After sliding several euros across a counter for tickets to see the castle, we strolled along the path that leads to the main event. It lived up to the image of a green Ireland and proved to be a nice walk on a sunny but decidedly chilly day.
Halfway to the large stone castle, a group of smiling young women asked us if we’d snap a picture of the four of them with their camera. They returned the favor for us and told us we’d love seeing the Blarney Stone at the top of the tower.
“What did they mean by seeing the stone at the top of the tower?” I asked Mike.
He grinned and said, “That’s where it is. You don’t think it’s going to be easy to reach it with the powers it holds.”
We moved on, but I kept my eye on the tall tower rising from the castle proper. Maybe they’d have an elevator, I told myself, dreamer that I am. The stone castle in the distance embraced by the many shades of green in the surrounding countryside was a glorious sight.
We arrived at the gated entry and passed through to the stone steps that wound round and round in a spiral pattern, narrowed by stone walls on each side. Every now and then, we’d come to a tiny room where we rested before moving on to the next set of steps. It suddenly dawned on me that there were only three of us climbing these stone stairs, so I turned around and asked Mavis, “Where’s Mike?”
She kept climbing but said, “Oh, he doesn’t like heights very well, so he stayed on the ground.”
Smart man, I thought as I went round and round more jagged stone steps, wondering how hard it must have been to fashion them back in the medieval times or how women in long dresses managed them.
After what seemed forever, with legs trembling from the climb, I walked through a doorway out onto the top of the tower where a long line of people waited for a turn to kiss the Blarney Stone. I peered over the edge, and a million miles (so it seemed) below, I saw Mike pacing in one of the gardens. “Only one of us with good sense,” I muttered, hoping no one heard me.
When we got closer, I watched the process of kissing the stone. I would have to lie on my back, grab hold of two bars, and wait for the attendant to hold onto me while I moved farther back into nothing but air and kiss the stone hanging upside down. Decision made at that instant. I was not kissing the stupid stone, no way, no chance.
“Are you going to do it?” my husband asked with a gleam in his eye.
“Are you kidding? With my bad back? And besides, there’s no need, because I already have the gift of gab, thanks to my Irish ancestors.”
As the line moved slowly closer to the stone, I had a better view as, one by one, people leaned out into only air and kissed the Blarney Stone, coming back up with silly grins that seemed to say, “I did it!”
Many people passed on by, so I didn’t feel out of place in doing so, and my husband and my friend passed the stone without stopping, too. We didn’t live this long to do something stupid in the twilight of our lives.
With some relief, I started down the winding stone steps, foolishly thinking the descent would be easier. Round and round, bending low in some spots, legs shaking from all the unusual exercise I’d put them through. By the time I reached ground level, I had convinced myself that coming down was much more difficult than going up. But I was glad I had gone to the top, witnessed the courageous who attempted to kiss the stone, and made it back to solid ground once more.
The stroll through a lovely garden area along the river adjacent to the castle provided soothing relief after climbing the tower steps, and as we walked back to the car park, we passed one group of visitors after another. The legend of the Blarney Stone draws hordes of visitors year after year, all of whom pay for the privilege of seeing it and perhaps even kissing it. Clever marketers, these Irish!
Thank you Nancy for a beautifully told story. We hope all our readers return this afternoon when we publish As Time Runs Out by Susan Payne, first-place winner in our Difficult Memories category.
Here is the link to the first-place winning story in the Difficult Memories category.
Here is the link to the first-place winning story in the Memories of Life Observed category.
Thank you all. The Honorable Mention winning stories will be published beginning in July.