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Writer Showcase: Summer Hardinge

Updated: Dec 11, 2019

This week I have the pleasure of showing off TWO talented friends and writers. Singer/songwriter Roger Tomhave cowrote a wonderful song called "Homemade and Handed Down," which appears on his latest CD by that name. He also created this video, which I used as a writing prompt in my Monday women's writing workshop a few months ago. The song stirred up some beautiful stories, including the piece below by Summer Hardinge.

Summer says she has always loved words and stories, whether as an actor, dancer, writer, or high school English teacher. Now she enjoys more time for her own writing, gardening, and photography. Currently, Summer facilitates AWA workshops in Maryland and Virginia, where she derives joy from writing with others. You can learn more about Summer and her business, Beyond Margins, at Here is her piece in response to the song.


She comes from a family of hand-me-downs:cotton petticoats, flannel nightgowns, soft corduroy play pants, sturdy winter coats, plaid woolen skirts, and crisp spring dresses of dotted Swiss or pinwale cotton. Four girls took a whole lot of dressing.

Her mama was quite the bargain hunter, whether shopping in fine department stores for after Christmas sales, discovering possibilities in the local Virginia town, or rummaging in Goodwill and thrift stores alike, always returning with some treasure or “find” to delight her or her sisters. According to Mama, “anything could be made over” or altered and then passed down for several seasons.

But what she remembers the most are the times she perched on the wide red velvet ottoman above her mama’s head, turning in tiny increments for a hem to be measured or standing at attention for a tuck in a waistband or snip in at the bodice. What torture it was. Everything seemed to itch her at once: legs, back, nose, and hidden places she wouldn’t dare touch. All the while her mama worked, bent over the ottoman with a hooked rug cushioning her stance, her mouth stretched to a narrow line full of straight pins, with just enough room left to offer “Stop it now” or an “uh -uh” to stop the squirming.

So she fixed her eyes out the big picture window to the pasture and woods. And while her mother contemplated patterns of pins upon wool or cotton, she measured her own white pines against the sky. And somehow time passed. She imagined herself in all sorts of getups, going between the trees and wandering out to the white barn. She might be in a lace gown or hooded velvet cloak. One time she imagined herself naked in the blue moonlight, delicate in the dark night, but just as powerful.

Sunlight through the eastern window brought her back inside the room, making her aware of the brushings of light against the dark wood of her daddy’s dresser or upon the lavender and pale green appliqued bed quilt and then back to the dark top of her mother’s hair, and the strong, knowing hands, pressing fabric this way and that.

She looks back now, thinking of her favorite hand-me-downs and of the sisters who wore them, and of her mama in the sunlit room where patterns and colors seemed to meld into one story and yet with so many hues.

"Fittings" © 2016 by Summer Hardinge

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