Celebrating a great rural life
Title: Author: Autobiography of Dorothy McGregor Reviewer: Pat Veltkamp Smith
When we think of pioneer women, we see passive petticoated mothers, crossing swollen rivers with a swag of children and dour, bearded men.
Or, now we might think of Dorothy McGregor, born at the beginning of the baby boom, turning into her 70s, still astride a horse, running her Mataura Island farm singlehandedly, welcoming teenage grandchildren for tea, going out first to feed her dogs, later turning on the computer to write her memoirs.
Widowed some 35 years ago, she brought up her two young sons on her own, leaving Waimate and her Connemara riding school to return to Southland, to up-skill her nursing from maternity to general, midwifery to occupational health.
And after a day birthing our babes, she’d do a night shift at The Southland Times checking computer operators for RSI.
Now that is Dorothy, that use of the colloquial, that soft Southland roll of the letter r – a small pretty woman with blue eyes and a mass of naturally curly fair hair.
I cannot tell Dorothy’s tale; noone but she can.
Those who came to the launch of the book, hosted by her friend, fellow horsewoman Amanda Nally, represented many of the different worlds in which the author has lived.
Friends she taught to ride and their children and some of theirs too. Nurses and mothers they had helped, and colleagues from The Southland Times some of whom knew her during the 30 years she worked with them.
And there were cavalcaders of whom she wrote in her earlier work Tales from the Trails.
This is such a postwar rural Southland story, hardship and fun, whole Sundays spent at church, picnic lunches and visiting Riverton sea and sand in the car as the Cathcart family heads home to the farm at Otapiri.
The author became ill in 2013 and the idea of writing her book came during her convalescence back to good health.
She sees herself a cancer survivor and a woman of faith, thank God for that.
Thanks others too – $10 from each $35 the book brings will go to the Otago Southland Cancer Society.