Sid has lots of adjectives for me. Not all of them complimentary (‘bossy’ is not my favorite). His specialty for birthday/mother’s day/anniversary cards is an acrostic poem with my name spelled out… or occasionally the message of the occasion. Bonus points for Happy Anniversary if you can come up with 16 adjectives… but the 3 letters of Ann is easy. Amazing. Notable. Nice. You get the idea. I need to remember to page through our old paperback dictionary to see if there are any notes or dog-eared pages in there for evidence of some of his pre-digital age research. Before the advantage of the iPhone. So many years, so many descriptors.
But there is one that stands out in my mind that usually didn’t make it into the cards — there’s no T in Ann — but often pops up when he is talking about me to others.
I am a Two Bucket Woman. As in, I can carry not just one bucket of water up the hill or back from the field… but rather two.
He is not wrong.
I am busy. I am constantly moving. I have a lot of energy. I get it done. I am competitive. The challenge of “oh, it’s just one more thing” is all it takes and I am off to the races. Or maybe it's more like a dare. Either way, it is who I am.
As a kid, I lived for the compliments from my mother. “Oh, Annie, you tidied up and vacuumed while I was at the grocery store!” My older brothers would stare at me from the couch, chips in hand, motionless in front of the after-school television lineup. I am sure in my superiority I mistook their smirks as embarrassment for being so lazy. Now I think they were probably just laughing at me for being such a goody two-shoes. Or maybe they were just high. Once, with that same people-pleasing zeal, I took the liberty of cleaning out my brother Scott’s car for him, where I found a metal pipe for marijuana. Having no clue what it was, I gave it to my dad thinking it was a misplaced tool of some sort. (More pleasing…. look at how helpful I am.) Scott was probably grounded for a while after that, but I don’t remember him retaliating. But he did solve his own problem — before long there was a pet boa constrictor living in his bedroom. An even more brilliant place to store his stash. My mother was never going in the reptile tank.
Nearly fifty years later, I have the insight of age… but even now I am a bad delegator with a ridiculous need to please. In the end, I wind up just getting it done myself. I hate to say no. I am the two-bucket woman. (Sid means this as a compliment… but sometimes it makes me feel more like a mule than a talented racehorse.) Picture her in your head. Hands full, sweat dripping down her brow. Maybe a scarf in her hair. What is she wearing? A peasant top, right? Which is really nothing more than a pretty, feminine work shirt. A rebrand, if you will. When I think about my closet, packed to the gills with plain, lightweight puffed-sleeve blouses… it is kind of perfect. Sid is right. As they say, if the blouse fits... I have written a lot about all the breezy, lightweight shirts that make up my summertime uniform – the style I have been collecting since I was a teenager in the 1970s. Peak Peasant Top era. Never once did I think about the origin of the name. Peasant. Worker. Laborer. Two-bucket woman.
There really are a lot of them. I have Mexican embroidered ones from Mi Golondrina, who makes the very best ones on the nicest cotton. I have tattered vintage ones that look like they came from a head shop in the East Village. (Scott would be pleased that I finally know what they sell there.) Lace-edged, linen ones from Isabel Marant that were definitely not priced for peasants, but totally worth it for their specialness. My most-worn ones lately came from our line last year, the Bridget Top. I actually was so obsessed with the style that I bought a backup in the white, afraid I might stain the first one. I wore both all summer long. So I am realizing as I write that I may, actually, have a bit of a problem with peasant tops. To me it is as versatile as a t-shirt… and often even more comfortable in its airiness. For hot weather, there is nothing better.
Which brings me to this year’s model. Rosalina. It is probably the simplest one yet… but also the most refined. Nothing more than a float of cotton lawn with lightly puffed sleeves, an open neckline, and the most beautiful, delicate placket that you cannot help but appreciate when you tie it at the front. For me it is a TRUE peasant top in that I could imagine myself actually doing work in it. And I am working in it, quite a lot lately. I am cooking in it, gardening in it, cleaning out my own car in it… in my memories I am chasing small children in it, or doing my very favorite job of all, untying that pretty front placket and nursing a baby in it. I have started with the white (and will stop myself from buying a backup and let you all have a crack at it first). The Liberty ones are fantastic and that light blue is kind of irresistible. Less expected in a way. Two buckets or one… donkey or stallion… you need this. I promise.