Wylder: An Excerpt from Escape from St. David’s
Wylder was a child to watch, surprising even the most open-minded individuals in the tiny town where she lived. As a young girl growing up in a sleepy town, she stood out as a rule breaker, a free thinker. Wylder became a vegetarian at age six. This would be unusual in any household, but it was especially peculiar on a cattle farm.
She was an avid animal-rights defender, yet practical and thoughtful. Wylder organized a family meeting in which she explained the concept of animal freedom and the right to clean water and healthy food for the cattle on their family ranch. The family implemented the ‘Good Life’ policy, which her mom explained as a commitment to give the animals a good life while they were on the ranch. That seemed like a good rule to Wylder. Her mom supported Wylder’s values by formalizing this policy with a wooden sign posted in the barn, and a ceremony to mark the new family slogan.
Wylder had a special connection with animals, especially horses. She would rise early with her father and do her chores, then ride bareback all morning, following her dad from place to place, as he handled all the day’s tasks. She was at home in nature.
She enjoyed learning about the healing property of plants and the medicinal uses of tree barks and grasses. Her name at birth was Falynne, a unique and unusual name created by her mother. As she grew, folks in the community said, “That girl is wilder than any I know in these parts.” So, she became known as “Wylder,” and this name suited her well.
Her grandmother, Virginia, an able rancher in her own right, found Wylder’s traits to be signs of inner strength and bravery. At eight years old, when she asked to have something other than turkey for the family Christmas dinner, the two of them sat down and planned a delicious plant-based meal. Her mom helped them cook everything and the whole family claimed it was amazing.
As Wylder grew, she became more and more creative, writing stories and songs, playing the violin, and showing her animals in the school 4H program. Her grandmother’s eighty years of life made her the perfect person to ask thoughtful questions about the characters Wylder had created in her mind, helping her to round out their personalities, motivations, and inner conflicts. Her grandma attended as many performances, riding shows, 4H club competitions, and family gatherings as she could while managing a cattle farm with Grandpa.
When Wylder had her heart broken at age twelve by the little cowboy down the road, it was Grandma Virginia she called. When she realized the fate of the cattle on the family farm, it was Grandma Virginia she confided in. They discussed life and death, good and evil, right and wrong late into the night when they were together.
When Wylder was fourteen, the news of her grandma’s death stung her like a wasp. Her funeral was in another state. The family loaded up in the car and took the long drive to the city where Grandma had lived. Her grandmother was buried in her local cemetery where her friends and extended family were also buried. It comforted Wylder that her grandma was with her friends for the afterlife.
Back at the family farm, Wylder was lonely in a way she had never felt before. She would sit on a bale of hay under the stars, with a fire she had made in the stone ring her dad had assembled and talk to her grandma as if she was sitting on her own bale of hay right next to her. It was as if she was right there, listening.
When Wylder’s history teacher assigned a summer project of investigating, visiting, and writing about a local monument, Wylder was inspired by the trip to the small cemetery where her grandma’s funeral had been held. She was fascinated by death, believing that she would not live a long life. With these things in mind, she chose a cemetery in her hometown, St. David’s. The cemetery was hundreds of years old and had an important role in the history of her town. Wylder could visit it herself, see the stories told by the headstones, and write about it from personal experience.
Look for more chapters of “Escape from St. David’s” coming soon. The book can be found on Amazon.