Welcome to Novel PASTimes, Calla! We are pleased you stopped by today.
I am so glad to be here to talk about what’s been happening in my life and that of my sister, Sienhttp://www.bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/when-the-meadow-blooms/399000/affiliatesna, and my mother, Rose. They said I should be the one to come talk to you since I’m the older sister at 15. Sienna is only nine. And too much talking sometimes is difficult for my mother, Rose, since she had tuberculosis.
So introduce yourself, dear. Is there anything special about your name? Why do you think you were given that name?
My name is Calla Rose Meadows, and yes, there is definitely something very special about my name. My second name is after my mother, Rose. Since her name is a flower, she wanted flower names for Sienna and me. She chose Calla for me because her mother loved calla lilies. She had some bulbs she dug up each fall and planted again in the spring. While I never saw them, Mama said the flowers were white and seemed to represent peace to her mother. When her mother died, Mama planted the bulbs on her grave. I like to imagine them still blooming there, but Mama says the bulbs wouldn’t have survived our cold Kentucky winters. But I can still imagine them there.
I’m so sorry to hear that your mother had tuberculosis. I’m sure that was a very difficult time for her and for you. Can you tell us about it?
Oh yes, it was terrible. Mama had to go to a sanitarium since the best treatment according to the doctors is fresh air, sunshine and good food. My father died during the flu epidemic in 1918 and we didn’t have any other family to take in Sienna and me while Mama was getting treatment there. I couldn’t take care of Sienna myself since I was only twelve when Mama got sick. So, Mama had to take us to an orphanage. She thought it would just be for a few weeks, maybe a couple of months, until she would be better and able to come back for us. But sadly, the treatment wasn’t that quick and we were at the Home for Girls for almost two years. That was very difficult for my sister.
You sound as if that was only difficult for her and not you. Why is that?
Sienna has always been a little different. Mama says she simply thinks about things in unique ways. Sienna loves anything to do with nature–flowers, birds, animals. She even loves spiders and snakes. I cannot understand that. Anyway, while I had no trouble following the many rules of behavior in the orphanage, Sienna’s mind would wander to those spiders and birds. She would forget about the rules and constantly get in trouble. I hated it when I knew she was going to be punished, but I could never seem to keep it from happening.
Poor child. I am so sorry.
Well, things are better now.
What made things better for you? Did your mother get well?
Mama says she will never be as healthy as she was before the tuberculosis. She did get well enough to leave the sanitarium but her doctor said she wouldn’t be well enough to work making hats as she did before. Without that income, we couldn’t rent a place to live. Something, perhaps the Lord’s nudging, made me remember that my father had a brother. While my uncle had long lived a reclusive life and I had never met him, I took a chance and wrote him. I begged him to let us come to his farm, Meadowland. I was that sure a farm with lots of fresh air and sunshine would be the perfect place for Mama and for Sienna too. Don’t you think a place called Meadowland would be like that?
It does make one think of blue skies and fields of flowers. So did you get to go and was it as nice as you imagined?
Yes, Uncle Dirk didn’t just send for us. He came to the orphanage himself. And Meadowland was even more beautiful than I had imagined. Wide fields. Butterflies and flowers. A river flowing past it. I could not have wished a better place for Sienna.
But weren’t you a little nervous going to live with an uncle you had never met? One who had been, as you said earlier, a reclusive person?
Maybe a little at first because of the way he looked. The scars on his face and all. But Sienna wasn’t bothered at all. At first sight, she surprised him with a hug as though she’d known him forever.
Scars? Oh my. I think you need to tell me more about your uncle.
When he was a young man he was badly burned in a barn fire. Mama said he would have probably died if my father, only fourteen at the time, hadn’t pulled him out of the fire. Uncle Dirk was trying to save his one true love, Anneliese. He believed she was in the barn. Mama says nobody thought he would survive except his mother who sent up many prayers for him while nursing him back to health. But Uncle Dirk has many scars from that battle.
Did he save Anneliese?
It turned out she wasn’t in the barn. It’s a long story and one better told by Uncle Dirk. While I’ve always been very curious about it, Mama forbade me to ask my uncle anything about Anneliese. Don’t you just love that name? Anyway, all I know is that she disappeared and Uncle Dirk could never find her. I think his broken heart even more than his scarred face is what caused him to hide away from people on his farm.
That does sound like a story worth hearing.
Perhaps you can get the full story from him someday. I do know she was beautiful and Uncle Dirk loved her very much.
All right. Let’s think about you and your sister again. Tell me about Sienna.
Oh, that’s much easier to answer. I would do anything for Sienna. She is such a special girl. Mama says she’s a pure soul. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but Sienna does have a loving heart for any and all living creatures. She wanted to make friends with a mouse while we were still at the Home for Girls and couldn’t wait to get to the farm to meet some farm mice. It turns out that mice are shyer than she thought. So, she made friends with some crows first. She even named them, and those crows were amazing. Almost as amazing as my little sister.
She does sound like someone we would all like to get to know better. While I’m intrigued by all your troubles and adventures, it’s time to wrap up our interview. What is something you have wanted more than anything?
A forever home. Even before Mama got sick and Sienna and I had to go to the Home for Girls, we continually had to move to cheaper rooms because Mama couldn’t make enough money making her hats. And then we had no home at all while we were separated from Mama. So we, all of us, dreamed of having a forever home together. We hoped Meadowland might be that, but then something happened to upset Uncle Dirk. Something I did and I thought I had ruined it all. And then there was a storm and… But I can’t tell it all. You’ll just have to read our story to find out what happened.
We certainly want to do that to find out more about your story. Thanks for coming to talk to us, Calla, and sharing about your family and Meadowland.
After a tragic fire and the loss of his one true love, Dirk Meadows has lived a reclusive life,
but when his late brother’s family needs a place to stay, he opens up his home even as he
intends to keep his heart closed. Rose has known much loss in her life, but the hardest thing
she ever had to do was leave her daughters at an orphanage while she is treated at a
tuberculosis sanatorium. So she is happy to accept Dirk’s offer of shelter once she is well
enough to reclaim her children. Calla and Sienna have difficult experiences at the orphanage
but feel rescued when they go to Meadowland, their uncle’s farm. Sienna, nine, has a special
feel for animals and birds. Her friendship with a couple of crows, who bring her gifts, cause
a crisis threatening the happiness Rose and her daughters have found at Meadowland. But
then the crows’ gifts open a door to the past to help Dirk find healing as he faces the truth
of what happened years before. His nieces’ love breaks through the shield around his heart
and opens him up to love again.
Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of Along a Storied Trail,
An Appalachian Summer, River to Redemption, These Healing Hills, and
Angel Sister, along with several Shaker novels—The Refuge, The
Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted. She and
her husband live on a farm a mile from where she was born in
rural Kentucky. Ann enjoys discovering the everyday wonders of
nature while hiking in her farm’s fields and woods with her
grandchildren and her dogs, Frankie and Marley. Learn more at