I am not usually given to reflecting deeply upon my personal appearance, but in the last few days I have been pondering upon my self-image. If I lived my life in an isolated bubble or alone on a desert island I don't suppose I would ever have given a thought to my height and whether that was ever going to be an advantage or drawback to me in life. But since I met and married my husband (too many years ago than memory cares to delve into), it has been borne in on me that I am, in fact, vertically challenged; not to beat about the bush - a shortie.
Before the state of wedded bliss I always thought of myself as, if not exactly tall, then certainly of good average height. But years of being loomed over by a six foot something brawny male and being patted on the head and greeted as 'hi shortie', have begun to chip away at my image of self as a 'tall' person.
The nadir of this experience came recently when, in the quiet of a second-hand bookshop in England, my husband called out from the other side of the shelves, 'hey Short-round, come and look at this.' To muffled snorts from the other customers, I slunk, scarlet-faced, to his side. I may be short, but I am not round. Oh, how many ways shall I kill thee ...?
The current book has scenes along a river bank which call for some pastoral descriptions in and amongst the action. I was musing upon these on my daily ramble. Being early June the cow parsley is exuberantly flowering all along the edges of the lanes and the heat of the day brings out their milky perfume. I had stopped to admire a spread of buttercups in the verge and as I straightened up I caught sight of the myriad cow parsley plants growing above me. Above Me? Yes, they were all taller than me. I stepped out into the lane and looked them up and down. Long willowy stems with delicate lacy flowers shooting out at intervals. I tried to eye them dispassionately. As a plant, they are amazing; tall, slender and very beautiful. However, tranlsated into height for humans, I had to admit to myself., well, yes, 'short' was the only word.
I shuffled off disconsolately. All that hanging down from monkey bars in childhood and 'eat up your dinner it'll make your legs grow long.' Wasted. How can I write poetic descriptions of pastoral landscapes from the vantage point of a mushroom? I need to bestride the landscape, lady of all I survey. I need stilts.