Scumble & Savvy by Ingrid Law

The Original Savvy

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Now, you may have heard tell of that famous giant Paul Bunyan, and of his big blue ox, Babe. And you might have listened to the adventures of Pecos Bill and his catfish-riding, bouncy-bustled bride Slue-foot Sue. It's even possible that you've heard the story of Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett, who could make a hat out of a hornet's nest and cut braggarts down to size with nary but a toothpick.

But there was once another great woman who could have been the same such legend, whose story might have been told for years past and years to come right alongside those of rootin'-tootin' cowboys and larger-than-life lumberjacks, but for the fact that her tale was true and her talents were real, just like yours and mine.

But when remembering those old folktales, few people recall the story of Eva Mae El Dorado Two-Birds Ransom-even though she was the great-great-great- and even-greater-than-that-grandmother to half our kin and the very first person under the spacious skies to call her talents savvy. When Eva Mae was just a young girl traveling west across the American continent with three bigger, older, burlier brothers, in the hopes of finding an all-new way in an all-new place that was becoming fast filled with just about every kind of person you might imagine ever finding anywhere, Eva fell into the headwaters of the Missouri River on the morning of her thirteenth birthday and never saw the loving eyes or whiskery chins of any of her brothers ever, ever again.

For three long years, Eva Mae bumped and tumbled along the rambling tributaries of the Big Muddy. Back then that river was still free-flowing and flooded, and full of the magic of a flawless, untamed land. Down rough channels and through thick sediments, past rolling sand dunes, bird-filled singing cattail marshes, and giant stands of wise, deep-rooted cottonwoods, Eva Mae traveled the Missouri as it branched into the Cannonball, the Vermillion, and the Nishnabotna rivers, finally finishing her long and bumpy journey at the very place where the Missouri fed its waters into the mighty Mississippi.

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