Fire in the Forest

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was COUNTLESS BRANCHES

A forest of living, greening branches can be an inspiring sight, but here’s an account of a raging blaze started in the felled trees on a homesteader’s farm. They were set ablze by the hired man, who had good intentions, but seriously lacked common sense. The REBLOG button on his post isn’t working, so I’ve reprinted this from Flatlander Faith.com. See the original post HERE.

[This is an excerpt from a Canadian Classic, Roughing it in the Bush, by Susanna Moodie, first published in 1852.  At the climax of the crisis described here, she buries her head in her apron. It was her custom to  pull up her apron to cover her head for privacy when praying.]

The winter and spring of 1834 had passed away. The latter was uncommonly cold and backward; so much so that we had a very heavy fall of snow upon the 14th and 15th of May

A late, cold spring in Canada is generally succeeded by a burning, hot summer; and the summer of ’34 was the hottest I ever remember.  No rain fell upon the earth for many weeks, till nature drooped and withered beneath one bright blaze of sunlight; and the ague and fever in the woods, and the cholera in the large towns and cities, spread death and sickness through the country.

Moodie had made during the winter a large clearing of twenty acres around the house. The progress of the workmen had been watched by me with the keenest interest. Every tree that reached the ground opened a wider gap in the dark wood, giving us a broader ray of light and a clearer glimpse of the blue sky. But when the dark cedar swamp fronting the house fell beneath the strokes of the axe, and we got a first view of the lake my joy was complete: a new and beautiful object was now constantly before me, which gave me the greatest pleasure.

The confusion of an uncleared fallow spread around us on every side. Huge trunks of trees and piles of brush gave a littered and uncomfortable appearance to the locality, and as the weather had been very dry for some weeks, I heard my husband talking with his choppers as to the expediency of firing the fallow. They still urged him to wait a little longer, until he could get a good breeze to carry the fire well through the brush.

Business called him suddenly to Toronto, but he left a strict charge with old Thomas and his sons, who were engaged in the job, by no means to attempt to burn it off till he returned, as he wished to be upon the premises himself in case of any danger. He had previously burnt all the heaps immediately about the doors. While he was absent, old Thomas and his second son fell sick with the ague, and went home to their own township, leaving John, a surly, obstinate young man, in charge of the shanty, where they slept, and kept their tools and provisions.

The day was sultry, and towards noon a strong wind sprang up that roared in the pine tops like the dashing of distant billows, but without in the least degree abating the heat. The children were lying listlessly on the floor for coolness, and the girl and I were finishing sun-bonnets, when Mary suddenly exclaimed, “Bless us, mistress, what a smoke!” I ran immediately to the door, but was not able to distinguish ten yards before me. The swamp immediately below us was on fire, and the heavy wind was driving a dense black cloud of smoke directly towards us.

“What can this mean?” I cried. “Who can have set fire to the fallow?”

John Thomas stood pale and trembling before me. “John, what is the meaning of this fire?”

“Oh, ma’am, I hope you will forgive me; it was I set fire to it, and I would give all I have in the world if I had not done it.”

“What is the danger?”

“Oh, I’m terribly feared that we shall all be burnt up,” said the fellow, beginning to whimper.

“We must get out of it as fast as we can, and leave the house to its fate.”

“We can’t get out,” said the man, in a low, hollow tone, which seemed the concentration of fear; “I would have got out if I could; but just step to the back door, ma’am, and see.”

I had not felt the least alarm up to this minute. Judge then my horror, when, on going to the back door, I saw that the fellow, to make sure of his work, had fired the field in fifty different places. Behind, before, on every side, we were surrounded by a wall of fire, burning ferociously within a hundred yards of us, and cutting off all possibility of retreat.

I closed the door and went back to the parlour. Fear was knocking loudly at my heart – I felt stupefied. The girl sat upon the floor by the children, who had both fallen asleep. She was silently weeping; while the fool who had caused the mischief was crying aloud.

A strange calm succeeded my first alarm; tears and lamentations were useless; a horrible death was impending over us, and yet I could not believe that we were to die.

My eye fell upon the sleeping angels, locked peacefully in each other’s arms, and my tears flowed for the first time. Mary, the servant-girl, looked piteously up in my face. The good, faithful creature had not uttered one word of complaint, but now she faltered forth, “The dear precious lambs! Oh such a death!”

I threw myself down upon the floor beside them, and pressed them alternately to my heart, while inwardly I thanked God that they were asleep, unconscious of danger.

The heat soon became suffocating. We were parched with thirst, and there was not a drop of water in the house. I turned once more to the door, hoping that a passage might have been burnt through to the water. I saw nothing but a dense cloud of fire and smoke – could hear nothing but the crackling and roaring of the flames, which were gaining so fast on us that I felt their scorching breath in my face.

“Ah,” thought I – and it was a most bitter thought – “what will my beloved husband say when he returns and finds that poor Susy and his dear girls have perished in this miserable manner? But God can save us yet.”

The thought had scarcely found a voice in my heart before the wind rose to a hurricane, scattering the flames on all sides into a tempest of burning billows. I buried my head in my apron, for I thought that our time was come, and that all was lost, when a most terrific crash of thunder burst over our heads, and, like the breaking of a water-spout, down came the rushing torrent of rain which had been pent up for so many weeks. In a few minutes the chip-yard was all afloat, and the fire effectually checked. The storm which, unnoticed by us, had been gathering all day, and which was the only one of any note we had that summer, continued to rage all night, and before morning had quite subdued the cruel enemy whose approach we had viewed with such dread.

The imminent danger in which we had been placed struck me more forcibly after it was past than at the time, and both the girl and myself sank to our knees and offered up our hearts in humble thanksgiving to that God who had saved us by an act of His Providence from an awful and sudden death. When all hope from human assistance was lost, His hand was mercifully stretched forth, making His strength more perfectly manifested in our weakness.

“He is their stay when earthly hope is lost,
The light and anchor of the tempest-toss’d.”

Memories Within

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is LOOKING WITHIN

Today I plan to do some looking within my cupboards to make up a good shopping list. Shopping is one thing that seems to have changed a lot in this current crisis and I’ve always been rather haphazard about it before, forgetting the list at home, forgetting some important item. Now I need to sharpen up, when both our shopping time and store supplies are limited.

I’ve also been looking within my sewing closet; yesterday I took advantage of the grandchildren being home from school and took a box of sewed blocks (for two baby blanket tops) over to their house. I had the granddaughters help me lay out these squares out on the floor and decide their order.

Any project is a whole lot better when you have cheerful helping hands—especially when they belong to flexible children who don’t mind crawling around on the floor to set out the blocks and shift them around to a suitable pattern. And we get the added bonus of making sweet memories together. 🙂

Here’s a poem that speaks of another kind of looking within; no matter where we are and what our stresses, we can all take a moment to enjoy a stroll through the corridors where we store our pleasant memories.

Floral + Poem.Prawny
                  Image by Prawny  —  Pixabay

Take My Hand, Precious Lord

This morning’s Ragtag Daily Prompt was HOLD MY HAND, a line that brings to mine one of my favorite—and one of the most beautiful—Gospel songs:

Take My Hand, Precious Lord, Lead Me Home

When my way grows drear, precious Lord linger near
When my life is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me Home

Chorus:
Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me Home

When the shadows appear and the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand,
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me Home

Chorus…

CLICK HERE if you wish to hear this song

The writer of this beautiful hymn was Thomas Andrew Dorsey, in Georgia in 1899 and died Jan. 1993. From 1932 Dorsey was choral director of the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago. He founded the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses in Chicago in 1933, serving as its president for 40 years.

There’s a very touching story behind this song. He and his wife were married seven years and she was expecting their first child. He was called to sing in Gospel meetings in St Louis, MO, and she encouraged him to go. During one meeting he was handed a telegram that she had gone into labor and died in childbirth. Their son lived only a few hours. Visiting with a friend a few days later, seeking consolation for his deep grief, he sat down at a piano and composed this song.

Recipe for Seasoning Spring

Good morning everyone,

The Word of the Day prompt this morning is ADVICE.

Coincidentally, blogger Bill at The Write Idea has given a bit of advice this morning in his haiku about “releasing the dragon.” READ HERE. I decided to take it, and find a dragon I could release.

I have quite a number penned up (pardon the pun) in notebooks, hoping to someday be set free. Yes, it’s time to open a few gates! I grabbed an old journal full of scribbles, turned to the back page, and found a raw poem I jotted down a few years back. I touched it up with a spritz of polish on the scales, did some filing on a few toenails, dabbed a dash more colour on some spots — and now I have my dragon ready to present to you, dear readers.

RECIPE FOR SPRING DELIGHT

Take the wonder of a blue sky,
add the blessing of warm sunshine,
bar the blasts of bitter wind,
but allow a few warm zephyrs
to tease the icicles to tears
till they splash the winter-killed
grass with a rousing message.

Add a number of misting poplars,
a sprinkling of meadowlark trills
and a path bordered by catkins.
Whisk yourself into this mix
some inviting March morning;
and marinate in the delights of spring.

children balloons

Something Precious

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today was SOMETHING.

We had our usual Sunday morning service, then company came for dinner, and I’ve been reading a novel this evening. So I’m very late getting something written, but here’s my little verse:

I’ve heard exquisite music
some philharmonic’s played,
and been in great cathedrals
to hear skilled voices raised.

At times a passionate solo
brings a lump to my throat;
and my heart has been inspired
by a quartet’s rousing notes.

But so much more exquisite
are the tunes of our own crew
in the evening when we’re singing
those old songs tried and true.

There’s something so appealing
when childish tones ascend
to join with ours in melody;
as the evening hours end.

And “the night is filled with music”
as the long-gone poet said;
the home with joy keeps ringing
when we’ve all gone off to bed.