Food for Thought
Species: Snow-crested Female. (Common name. Older Iowa Woman.) This individual is usually mated to the Gray-bearded Male (also known as the Grizzled Old Codger), though she often outlives her mate. A rare number can be found who have never chosen a mate but are not significantly different from all others of the species.
Habitat: All areas of the state. Nests in a variety of locations including ranch-style houses that she has inhabited for half a century; newer, downsized homes with one or two bedrooms, more bathrooms, and generous leisure space which may include hobby rooms, exercise facilities, computer rooms, or art studios. Some individuals can be found in newer condominiums, assisted living facilities, or time-share apartments. Others have been known to travel extensively to such locations as Arizona and Florida, and some prefer to reside in more or less temporary residences such as motor homes, guest rooms belonging to offspring, and summer cottages.
Habits: Once her offspring have matured, her habits alter remarkably and she spends more of her time away from her central domicile. She is known to make forays to large cities such as New York, Chicago and San Francisco for shopping and museums, and to spend a day or two in Las Vegas, Reno or other locales noted for gambling and entertainment. On a local level, she tends to frequent club meetings, garden centers, libraries, lecture halls, theaters and restaurants in the company of other members of her species. She frequently attends community events, sports venues, church services and lectures in the company of the Gray-bearded Male. She indulges in a new-found curiosity about a number of topics she has dismissed as inconsequential in the past. She seems to have realized that there is a certain joy in learning, and that no one should ever consider themselves to be a finished product.
Behavior: Having progressed beyond the nurturing years when she was raising a family and keeping a comfortable and safe home for them, she has had to make many adjustments to her use of time, money and energy. She has entered a new phase of life, quite different from before, but one that cannot be compared to retirement, for she is busier than ever. Her status, either mated or widowed, determines, to a great extent, her behavior. In the instance that she still has her mate, they pursue mutual interests together, but she tends to spend more time doing the things she enjoys and insisting that he go off and enjoy himself while she pursues her own interests. Shared activities might include such things as square-dancing, playing cards or bingo, dining out, baby-sitting grandchildren, movies, taking classes, attending sports events, watching television, gardening, sight-seeing, cooking, entertaining friends, making use of community recreation facilities and the senior center.
Identifying characteristics: Any attire from a bikini swimsuit to mountain-climbing gear. A carefully maintained and flattering hair style, expertly applied make-up, almost always jewelry including several rings. Most reliable identifying characteristic is a well-organized purse containing cash, drivers license, credit cards to several high-end stores, auto club card, voter registration card, photos of grandchildren at various stages in their growth, membership cards to several organizations, library card, list of current prescriptions, list of grandchildren’s birthdays, appointment cards for doctor, dentist and hairdresser, money-saving coupons for favorite stores and often-used products, postage stamps, and cell phone programmed with several dozen phone numbers.Eating habits: This once-omnivorous human has eliminated a number of foods from her diet and seems to prefer fruits, salads and seafood over more hearty meals such as those consisting of meat, gravy and potatoes followed by generous desserts. She still enjoys desserts but is more discriminating and chooses small but elegant treats over lavish and rich ones. She seems to have come to value fresh vegetables and interesting seasonings over convenient fast foods and prepared mixes. She is more aware of nutritional values and has achieved a new appreciation for the art of cooking.
Prevalence: This common and remarkable creature is in no danger of extinction. She might be compared to the phoenix, having reinvented herself which is, in a way, a rebirth. There is very little apparent difference between the two major categories– those who “stayed home and raised the children” and those who “worked outside the home”– as they both have finished one job in their lives and are now embarking on a new career.
And, by the way: Why is it that no one ever says of a man that, “he worked outside the home” when, obviously, nearly all of them do?