It is 1892, my lang amma has been in Canada for 17 years. She is married, very Icelandic but has chosen an Englishman, an army officer, the son of minister who has a master’s degree from Oxford. Surprisingly, shockingly, he leaves the army at Fort Garry, moves with her to Gimli, Manitoba, and learns how to fish. However, letters reveal that, like everyone else, his struggle to feed his family means hunting, often without much result, taking on construction work. The fact that he is English, speaks English, has an English name, Bristow, doesn’t make life any easier for him or Fridrikka in the Icelandic settlement of Gimli. Perhaps, if they’d moved to Winnipeg where his name and accent would have counted for something, life would have been better.
Like the cat, Bristow, as he was referred to, needed to find another way of getting at the cream in the jug. Just as the Icelanders needed to find other ways of getting the cream out of the jug or the fish from under the ice.
These were real people, people who when they got up every day, wondered where the next meal or the meal after that was coming from, wondered where they could go to make enough money to buy basic food stuffs, clothes, equipment, dogs, a horse and sleigh. Santa Claus didn’t come along and say “Here you are. All the cream you want and you don’t have to do anything to get it.”
So, maybe when they saw this cartoon about the cat appear in the Almanak and his having to work out how to get the cream, their laughter may have been partly from self-recognition.
Here is my translation. Corrections and additions not only welcome but sought. Give me a more accurate translation and I’ll make the necessary changes.
It’s painful to be as hungry and thirsty as cat is. She cannot get her head into the blessed cream pitcher. She has tried and it is impossible.
Wonderful is the taste of the cream even though the cat had to wait but patience, after all, is a virtue.
Pussy is not used to thinking things out and planning but when there’s a goal in mind, she can manage it.
And I, how often have I longed for the cream in the cream jug and how hard have I had to think, to plan, to work to figure out a way to get the cream out of the jug?