Where Do You Hide When the Long Ships Come?

More Morning Musings

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been reading the history of the British Isles, mainly the border country between Scotland and England — and it has been a long a bloody story. Invasions by the Roman army, the Irish kings, the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, as well wars and raids between a long list of local tribes like the Picts and the Scotti. The original Celts slaughtered or driven into Wales, Ireland, and Brittany.

Over time it seems these mini-kingdoms came to some uneasy settlement, but then came the Vikings. The Danes, or Norsemen. Dozens of long ships would appear in the firth one morning…

Image by saramarses — Pixabay

I never knew the Vikings were so business-like in their enterprise. They knew where to find the richest plunder – the silver, gold, and jewels – so they hit the monasteries and churches. They knew the best time to raid was during some saint’s feast day, when crowds gathered to celebrate, bringing their offerings to the priests. Not only did the raiders grab the loot, but they captured slaves to be sold abroad. Apparently the slave trade was a hefty part of the Vikings’ business.

Considering how invaders captured people and sold them in Ireland, Europe, and even to the Mediterranean and Muslim lands, what a wild mixture the European gene pool must have become!

So how did the people of the British Isles cope with all of this? Letting my imagination run, I ask, “Where did they hide when the long ships appeared in the Solway Firth? Did they find caves in the hills? Did they hide themselves in a ditch or pit?

I can’t imagine how they coped emotionally, seeing their defenders –husbands and sons– slaughtered, their homes and churches plundered, their children and youths carried off to be sold as slaves? I must admit that whatever troubles this Corona virus invasion has brought to our world, I still live in a very safe place.

Danish invaders started moving inland, settling, and eventually controlled what are now the shires of Derby, Leichester, Lincoln, Nottingham and Stamford. One historian takes a generous view of the Danes’ arrival. While he mentions the continuing Viking raids along the coasts, he feels England not only gained a richer genetic heritage, but being under Danish rule helped make England a sea-faring nation. Perhaps, but I doubt folks living through those days saw things that way.

Do you think maybe two hundred years from now some historian will write about our era and say how the Corona virus was good for us, it brought about this and that? Being smack in the middle of the menace, though, we’re not seeing it in such an open-minded way. I’ll just be glad when this virus is history – and we can ditch these masks.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning: DITCH

Snapshots of Today

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is ABUNDANCE

Well, we have an abundance of snow, with more coming this evening. We may soon have an abundance of ice. We do have an abundance of fluctuation these days.

Yesterday morning the thermometer read -30 C. At 7:30 am this morning it read 1 C. Plus 1, that is. We had Sewing Day at church yesterday and one lady asked if an abrupt change in temp had any noticeable effect on a person’s body. Another woman replied that when the temp changes so drastically, she gets a headache. She’ll need a Tylenol today for sure.

The topic of designer fashions came up, and the question, “Does anyone actually ever wear the designer fashions you see on European runways?” Maybe, but I’m inclined to think fashion designers make their mark with the very edgy, then can put their name on more practical clothing and it sells because of the name. Or what do you think?

I had cause this morning to think about avant-garde trends and looked the term up in the dictionary, which led me to the word intelligentsia, because they are considered avante-garde. Merriam-Webster defines the avant-garde as “Intelligentsia that develops new or experimental concepts especially in the arts.” INTELLIGENTSIA are “Intellectuals who form an artistic, social, or political vanguard or elite.” The trouble is, be it fashion, political, social or artistic, TRENDY tends to walk so close to the edge of SILLY that it often slips over. 😉

Here’s my haiku on the subject:
cutting edge
the farthest
out to lunch

This morning I was reading some haiku verses and found them disappointingly avant-garde. In my opinion. I’m not a connoisseur, not really a fan of, “The verse can mean whatever you wish it to mean.” Then I checked out another online haiku journal and found quite a few verses that, though brief, are clear and make sense.

kudzu vine loving fiercely
can make perfect sense to you if you know how kudzu vines entwine around a tree and often smother their host. Would you call this a terse verse? Or a verse of any kind?

I’ve gotten the urge to work on my manuscript again and feel like I need to nail terse, one current trend in writing, so I was up late last night reading James Patterson. That writer and his ghosts have terse to a science. Not my genre at all, but I borrowed a couple of his books, one about the Kennedy clan, from my online library and read a bit from each. Here’s hoping the style will rub off.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on trends, avant-garde, micro-poetry, and terse stories. Please share them in a comment below.

Trip To BC, Anyone?

The RAGTAG DAILY PROMPT today is SKOOKUM

I’ve never heard this word used as an adjective. Rather, I immediately thought of Skookumchuck, a town in British Columbia that I have heard of. So a bit of research was in order.

Skookumchuck is a small town — 90 or so residents — on the junction of the Kootenay and Lussier Rivers. The town is located in the southeastern corner of the province, 54 km or 33.5 miles north of the city of Cranbrook. As the crow flies — if crows fly over mountains — it’s about half way between Lethbridge, Alberta, and Kelowna, BC.

On the western side of the main Rockies range, the town is near a few different provincial parks — Premier Lake, Whiteswan, St Mary’s, Skookumchuck Narrows. Googling the locale I can see how it would be a gorgeous place to visit.

Here’s a picture of the Kootenay River hoodoos, shared by Brigitte at Unsplash

Whitewater Rafting Anyone?

SKOOKUM means strong, powerful or turbulent; CHUCK means waters. The Kootenay River flows through Skookumchuck Narrows and spills into the Sechelt Rapids, one of the areas prime attractions. Water speed can exceed 30 kmph in this stretch, forming some amazing whirlpools. The RDP claims that SKOOKUM can mean “evil spirit.” I don’t find this anywhere in the info, but maybe the Chinook tribe that named that part of the river thought of spirits as they watched the rapids and whirlpools boiling through the tide plain?

Perhaps the locals there can tell us if those rapids are safe enough for rafting, but I’m an onlooker only when it comes to that sort of sport.

Ready to Face It?

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is READY. A very useful word that should give oodles of responses.

“Are You Ready to be Well?

The Gospels relate an incident where Jesus met a man who’d been a cripple for many years. Jesus stopped in passing and asked the man, “Wilt thou be made whole?” In other words, “Do you want to be well?”

The man was lying by a miraculous pool where an angel troubled the waters occasionally and the first one in after the turbulence was cured of their affliction. Many folks had gathered there, hoping for a cure, and this particular fellow had been lying there for years. He explained to Jesus how he could never get to the pool fast enough when the water started roiling. Someone else always beat him to the cure.

Jesus question seems very odd, but I see a number of undertones here:
“Are you ready to be well? To face the real world?”
Are you ready to leave behind all these friends you’ve been commiserating with for so long?
Will you give up the sympathy and charity of folks who pass by and start earning your own living?

There are many kinds of sickness and dependency in our world, and perhaps physical ailments are probably the easiest to say good-bye to. It may be hard to see the sympathy of friends dry up, but how wonderful to be able to move and breathe and function. No wonder people who’ve been cured are ready to sing and dance for joy.

Folks can get in a rut that’s uncomfortable or painful, but what they can see over the top looks pretty scary, too. One day a friend was lamenting her dependence on tobacco. She admitted that it was a costly, controlling habit. “It’s got your life,” she said. “I just can’t make it without my smokes.” Being a believer in prayer, I asked her if she’d like me to pray with her that God would give her the strength to quit. “No, I guess not,” she said. Either she didn’t believe God could help her leave this habit — or she was afraid He really would!

I think Jesus’ question is as relevant for us as it was back then. If medical science could come up with an amazing drug that could instantly cure people of substance dependence — replace all that dopamine the body’s lost so the person could truly start fresh — how many would accept the cure? Leave their old life, their friends? Or would the real world be too scary? As fellow blogger Martha K said not long ago, “You can’t get a person into rehab. If they don’t choose to go in of their own free will, it won’t do them any good.”

That First Step

We all have issues we put off as long as possible because they’re hard and will likely have unpleasant consequences. But finally we’re ready. We’ve circled this hill too long. Crossed the bridge emotionally dozens of times and still aren’t over. So we grit our teeth, square our shoulders and march forward.

Health issues. Quitting a habit, starting a diet and sticking with it. Undertaking a new and possibly risky treatment. Deciding what to do about your parent or child in a coma. The doctors are pressing for a decision.

Moving. All that packing and loading, unloading, rearranging! Moving away from home, having to stand on your own two feet, maybe having to support yourself financially. Moving elderly parents. Sorting out a lifetime of stuff. Moving an unwilling elderly parent. Facing the prospect of physically removing a parent with dementia from the home where they think they’re coping perfectly well. Taking away Dad’s driver’s license and/or car keys.

Tackling and finishing a project. Mending a fence when you know someone’s upset with you. Making that apology you know you should make. Backing up. And so on.

What “first steps” have you taken lately?

Some Types of Folly

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was FOLLY

Merriam-Webster defines folly as a lack of good sense or normal prudence and foresight, a foolish act or idea, or an excessively costly or unprofitable undertaking.

Some acts of folly bring a chuckle to those who hear of it. Like the young man who thought he’d rob a local pharmacy and get away with drugs — and hopefully some cash. He attempted to gain entrance to the building after the store closed Saturday evening by crawling in through an air vent — but he got stuck. A unique way to spend the weekend! When employees opened the store Monday morning they heard him calling for help, and called the police.

There’s bureaucratic folly. I considered it a bit of folly on my government’s part when they sent me not just one, but TWO letters telling me they’d overpaid me (in my pension) by $1.40 and that I should pay it back by cheque ASAP or they would “deduct the entire sum from your next pension cheque.”

I guess the notice was computer-generated; no human looked at it and said, “You know, it’s going to cost $1 for the stamp to send her this. And logically, is she going to spend $1 for a stamp and whatever for the cheque fee to pay us back? Will she suffer that much hardship if she gets $1.40 less on next month’s cheque? Should we just file this?”

Which is what I did with it. Common sense should prevail, don’t you think?

Today my thinking went to a different kind of folly. We each have one of our own, perhaps? I’m a pack rat. Would you call that a type of folly?

When we moved my mother-in-law in with us over twenty years ago, I inherited a lot of her smaller things, like the handcrafted item she’d made over the years. Mom crocheted and embroidered card table cloths, made doilies, etc., and I’ve kept these stored away, wanting to keep them nice. Thinking someday to pass them on to the grand-daughters.

But what happens to things stored away? They may fade, the fabric threads weaken along fold lines, creases form that never can be ironed out. Fabrics get musty; elastic may disintegrate as soon as it’s stretched, after being stored for years. So many stored things get damaged by smoke, storm, or insects. And then, when you go to pass them on, you realize that the younger generation has no memory of the great-grands who made those things. Mom’s things are precious to me because I knew and loved Mom.

Some things are worth storing and passing on as antiques, but I’ve realized it’s folly for me to store these things for years, seldom using and enjoying them myself for fear of stains or wear. Our children have more than enough things of their own to store.

Image by Annie Spratt — Unsplash

The Elusive Wren

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today was STALK

THE WREN

I stalk him in the lilacs
and round the poplar tree,
that elusive little wren
who sings so cheerfully.

House sparrows, on the other hand,
I toss them out some seed
and they're my friends forever.
They greet me eagerly.

The little wren is patient;
he waits the morn's first light
to harvest on my doorstep
the insects fried last night.

Many’s the time I’ve tried to get a look at the wrens in our yard and only saw a fluttering and movement in the leaves. But first thing in the morning, sure enough, here’s the wren cleaning off our deck, feasting on bugs that got too close to our porch light.

Image by Naturelady from Pixabay.