As it turns out, little boys aren't the only ones who need superheroes. Sometimes minivan-driving, taxed-to-the-max suburban moms need them, too.
Why? Because superheroes represent our highest ideals. Because they make us aspire to be our very best selves. Because they give us hope that good will prevail.
I have embraced a new superhero, and her name is Gloria Varney.
A passionate advocate for sustainable farming, a self-starting entrepreneur, a mentor of young future farmers, and living, breathing proof-positive that a woman can have satisfying work and raise a family at the same time, Gloria is the full-on superhero package.
I spent a morning with Gloria recently, and believe you me, I learned a thing or two about a thing or two, chiefly this: Superheroes come in all sorts of guises. And sometimes they don't fly, they just walk real fast.
Like Ginger Rogers dancing backward.
I drive up to Turner, Maine from Portland, an hour south, on an early spring day and arrive just as Gloria is hitting full stride.
It is 9:00 a.m.
Gloria has been up for 4-1/2 hours. She has baked 30 loaves of bread, dozens of scones, and assorted pies and cookies. From scratch. She has awakened the oldest of her five children to tend the goats, whose milk she will use to make several varieties of cheese, including an excellent chevre, and six kinds of goatsmilk soap. She has visited the barn to see how the calves, lambs and kids are faring. She has packed bags of oven-warm goodies for her husband Gregg to take to a farm meeting. She has checked the shelves of her store—which sells all of the food any family should need, plus yarn, weaving supplies, and gifts—and made to-do lists for the day. She has dressed, fed, kissed, and seen three of her five children off to school. She has opened the front door and welcomed the first of the day's many customers to her Nezinscot Farm store.
Gloria, it is safe to say, has accomplished more at this hour than I have.
When I spy Gloria for the first time, she is seemingly everywhere at once—taking phone calls, directing store staff, answering questions for customers, all the while exuding the calm, relaxed good humor of a woman hosting a friendly backyard barbecue. But looks deceive. Commander-in-chief of a buzzing self-built beehive, Gloria is, quite clearly, Taking Care of Business. And—like Ginger Rogers dancing backwards in high heels—she manages all of this gracefully with two young children frisking at her feet.