It had been an industrious morning for Ellie. A few hours earlier she had donned her faithful apron to bake. It was the monthly CWA meeting tomorrow and she was taking morning tea to share.
Ellie looked forward to these meetings. With a husband that rarely talked and four children that couldn’t the CWA meetings were one of her only connections to other country women to simply chat, share news, ask questions about raising her children and have a sense of belonging.
While her sponge cake metamorphoses in the oven Ellie treats herself to a quick cuppa, the house silent except the constant tick of the clock in the dining room.
She hopes Sue is coming to the meeting tomorrow. Word on the grapevine signaled she was home after spending months in Sydney with her son’s illness. Thank goodness the CWA had accommodation in the city for members; it had been comforting to know her close friend had somewhere safe and comfortable to stay during this trying time.
The club had rallied to help Sue and her family. While Sue was caring for her son eight hours away her husband was juggling the daily needs of the farm and the household chores. Luckily Sue’s mum was able to visit and help him out and the CWA women had made sure there were freshly baked goods delivered often, some had even gone over to help with the washing and cleaning. Its what us country folk do for each other.
Her mum used to talk about the exciting days when the Country Women’s Association of Australia was formed as a national organisation in 1945. “We aim to improve the conditions for women and children and make life better for families, especially those living in rural and remote Australia” she had told her daughters proudly. Nearly twenty-five years later the next generation of rural women were enjoying the fruits of their foresight.
But Ellie enjoyed the mixing with other farming women as much as commentary on national issues. These lifelong friends had helped her when her newborn wouldn’t sleep, when her roses didn’t seem to want to bloom and when she just couldn’t get her sponge cake to rise. She had made a lot of trifles from the pancake sponge disasters when she was first married!
The regular visits to the baby health clinic set up by the CWA had helped monitor her babies growth, guided her through their eating and sleeping patterns, nappy rash treatments, recipes for fussy eaters and support for the mum. They were even helping with vaccinations these days, her children shouldn’t have to experience the pain of terrible diseases such as polio and tetanus.
Its hard to imagine how she would have survived the isolation of country living without this support network of like women. Her children also look forward to the meetings. It is a rare treat for her children to mix, play and learn with other young folk. It teaches them how them to socialise and readies them for the bigger world of school. They will be looking forward to tomorrow almost as much as she is.
Ellie gently and ever so slowly opens the oven door. She smiles. The sponge beams at her from the depths of the oven, a light fluffy tray of cotton. It will look magnificent covered in passionfruit icing as it is laid out on the lace tablecloth at the CWA meeting room tomorrow. It will complement Betty’s scones – she will never try to compete with Betty’s masterpieces! Joan will probably bring along her jam drops and Ruth will bring some egg sandwiches. Ruth is the first to admit she cant cook, but her chickens can sure lay eggs and her garden is one if the best in the district. She is always joking she has a green thumb, not a cooking hand!
The children come running inside ahead of their father. Ellie senses a greater than normal excitement in the rabble. Luckily she had thrown some biscuits in the oven earlier, they were all looking for some morning tea sustenance.
“Mum, Dad says we can turn the television on in the daytime today”
“What forever for?” Ellie is a little confused, they don’t condone daytime viewing. She looks to her husband for a clue
“There’s a man walking on the moon. Its on the TV! How cool is that?”
It is a day they will never forget, history is made today.
Image: © Can Stock Photo Inc. / Melpomene