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Barbaras One and All

Every June 4, on the beautiful Leelanau Peninsula in northern Michigan, dozens of women in their 50s, 60s and 70s gather in one of the small towns to celebrate …. their name. Each and every one in the room is named “Barbara” and we gather at a more hospitable time of year, exactly six months from St. Barbaras day on December 4. Known as the Great Martyr Barbara, she was an early ChristianGreek saint. Best known as the patron saint of armourers, artillerymen, military engineers, miners and others who work with explosives because of her old legend's association with lightning, and also of mathematicians. I will spare the finer sensibilities of my readers and not repeat the story of her martyrdom (at the hands of her own father), and assure all that the Barbaras assembled on Glenn Lake this week had much happier lives. What began as four women named Barbara in Glen Arbor gathering for coffee, has grown to a mailing list of over 70 women with that first name who live or summer in this corner of the state. Each year, a different town on the peninsula hosts. We noted what a period name Barbara is — the oldest Barbara was 90, and the youngest 48! And yes, occasionally Barbie the doll makes an appearance as she joined the toy world when we were all quite young. For obvious reasons, we addressed each other by our last names. Table assignments this year were by middle name, and predictably two whole tables were filled with Barbara Anns. (Do not break into song, please…). Great fun!

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