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by Martha F. Barkley
Soon the trees would be adorned with all the spectacular colors of fall. It was a busy time of year in Maine. Everyone was preparing for the winter months. Grammy Mae Fox did her last canning of vegetables for winter. Grandpa Fox was getting his storm windows on the house. The farmers were getting their last crops in before a big frost.
This does not sound like a troubled or abused Morning Star Wolf, does it? Then known as Elizabeth Kelley and later as Katherine Dodge, Morning Star Wolf has a love for her protective grandparents throughout this tortuous tale of an unfortunate adoption. She runs to the woods for refuge and has a yearning for animals that somehow helps bring her through.
Up higher in one of the trees was [the gray squirrel's] dwelling-place, his spherical nest formed of intertwined twigs with leaves attached and lined with leaves and bark.…It was wonderful to sit and watch the squirrel prepare for his winter months.
I thought how nice it would be to be just like him, so peaceful and not a worry in the world.
Morning Star Wolf was thinking these thoughts just before her fifteenth birthday at her beloved grandparents' home next door to her locked-in-bedroom-and-wrists-tied-at-night torture chamber of an adopted home since the age of three. This odd adoption happened to remove her from a regimented home for orphans. Unfortunately, her adoptive mother Agnes despised Morning Star Wolf's biological mother and the "Indian blood" in her veins…her rage seemed irrational to most observers.
Bread and butter sandwiches were all Agnes sent to school with Katherine, her neglected adopted daughter. A third grade teacher saw the meager meal each day and provided an apple or orange to supplement a very hungry, skinny student.
When Agnes baked cookies that smelled so very good, she only allowed her son to have them and denied the "Indian savage" even a small taste. As children so often are sensitive, the little boy would secretly share a cookie that she would wolf down so no one found out.
The piano teacher was another kind person who senses Elizabeth's (Katherine's) strain. While practicing, Agnes would scream from the kitchen. Once the spatula from the frying pan became a weapon that bloodied her fingers at the keyboard, actually breaking two. Just yesterday I discovered a colorful Cree basket on Dianne Gorman's kitchen wall. Many a piano student goes to her Belgrade home for weekly lessons and encouragement by caring parents, unlike wicked Agnes.
Lizzy, a nickname for Elizabeth, had many ups and downs, with too many downs due to the extremely abusive Agnes. In public places, security had to be called to remove Agnes. Read the story and try to imagine how you would handle each turn of events. I still wonder how Elizabeth survived and would enjoy talking to her about her life and ending up living in the beautiful Belgrade area.
I will give my copy of Morning Star Wolf by Morning Star Wolf (Katherine Dodge) to our Belgrade Public Library. Check it out. Just this week they are taking inter-library loans as well. By appointment to enter for half an hour, call ahead. Just knock on the library door when you arrive for curbside books or entry. Return books to outside box only for proper processing due to the coronavirus.
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I met the author and her husband at the Sunday Gazebo Maine Made Artisans a few weeks ago. The Cree Nation of Canada baskets were colorful and some even beaded. Her autobiography was for sale and the caring husband explained that they met at Hammond Lumber in Belgrade. Who can turn down a local romance like that?
I bought the book with a beautiful young Morning Star Wolf dressed in her Cree regalia on the cover. Quite stunning. Of course, I skipped to the end to read about their meeting while working at Hammond and their courtship. You can just picture the lovely places he took his sweetheart for meals on the coast and selecting the diamond ring, a perfect carat.