Frost & Flame

Prairie Blues

I’m feeling on the blue side this evening, owing to some changes in the air, literal and social.

For one thing, it was a really windy day and the September wind had a bite. When the sky clouded over in the afternoon it was downright cold. Reality blowing in; summer’s gone. 😦 This evening the wind has died down, but the weatherman is predicting frost tonight: -1C should finish off most of our lovely blooms. I’m not rushing out to cover anything, as they’ve been looking straggly for awhile now. They seem to know their season is over.

Here's a poem I wrote long ago about the September Wind:

Damp September wind whistles
through an early August day, chilling
our summer-browned bodies.

Ever the schoolyard bully, it cuffs us
with an almost icy hand.  "Remember!"
It mocks our shivers, our calendar

consultations.  Dismayed, we grab
for hours as they bounce away, August
days slipping out of our lives forever.

With sighs we hunt for sweaters,
check the pockets of our coats,
while we’re at it, wash our gloves.

© Christine Goodnough, August 2012

My husband tells me that, as of tomorrow, here in SK we’re back to wearing masks when we go shopping and to gatherings. THAT is disappointing! When you wear two back-of-the-ear hearing aids, as I do, the last thing you need is elastic getting tangled with the hearing aid’s plastic tubes. But so many people haven’t gotten their COVID vaccination that our province is experiencing another surge in COVID cases.

After a couple of months mask-free, this feels like a giant step backwards. There’s to be a wedding reception Saturday at our church and it just won’t be the same with everyone masked. Another rule will be that you have to provide proof of vaccination before you can dine in a restaurant.

That said, we enjoyed a nice visit with friends from Quebec who came for lunch and stayed awhile this afternoon. And tonight we have a blazing sunset, with a brilliant ring of fire in the west and southwest to brighten up our world for half an hour before dark.

I spent four hours yesterday, give or take, painting another picture; today I submitted it to the Artist’s Atelier on Malcolm Dewey’s website and got some valuable suggestions for improvement. I started doing all my pictures on canvas, but these days I like to paint a “trial run” on watercolor paper and see how it comes out. I always find some changes and improvements I want to make before committing the final picture to canvas.

Well, enough griping. Wishing you a great weekend, everyone.

Forecast: Dry and Smoky

this sad country
bird bath emptied in the night
by a thirsty doe

The prairies are definitely in a dry cycle this year. Most of our “Possibility of thunder showers” forecasts have evaporated and all the sloughs are dry. Since there’s no water lying anywhere near, I’ve been taking pity on the birds in our yard and putting out several basins of water in the back yard for them. It’s been a joy to watch them from my kitchen window, coming and splashing about, as well as dining on hapless insects floating on the surface.

Last week another creature found my water bowls. Early one morning I saw a doe drinking out of the largest basin so I be sure to top it off at dusk every evening. Several mornings now I’ve found it right empty and a number of telltale hoof marks on the ground. Last night I filled it to the brim around 9 pm and there was only a dribble in the bottom this morning.

Our yard light provides another source of nourishment for the birds, too, judging by how many birds are harvesting bugs on the ground below every morning. This morning I saw robins, sparrows, a kingbird and a brown thrasher feasting there.

There are many fires burning in northern forests; I heard of over a hundred burning out of control in BC alone, plus fires in Alberta and northern Sask.. All this week our atmosphere has been hazy with smoke, sometimes it gets rather hard to breathe. Still, I dare not complain when others closer to the fires are in thick smoke every day and many communities have been evacuated because of encroaching infernos. It must seem a daunting, maybe even hopeless, task to fight fires on every hand, but I’m so thankful for those brave souls out there doing that work.

We’re taking a holiday this week, going to a part of our country where rain is plentiful. In fact, there’s rain in the forecast almost every day this week — I just wish we could bring some back with us! Meanwhile, I hope the creatures around our yard can find another source while we’re away.

Afternoon Storm

A wild electrical storm came up at 1 pm this afternoon, just as I was leaving work. Soon after I got home the system settled right above us for about fifteen minutes. Fierce winds and lightning flashes all around, but the ones right over our heads were worrisome. However, we got at least 3 cm of much-needed rain, so we’re thankful. (Our neighbour’s rain gauge showed 1 1/2″ when all was said and done. Nice! ) A friend who lives +/- 40 km north of us got not a drop.

Now here’s a quickly composed verse about the event:

In constant waves the pouring rain
sweeps over the field, the road;
the tree tops thrashed by the onslaught,
spring back, to be bullied down again.
The overshadowing turbulence
hurls jagged streaks our way,
followed closely – so closely! –
by the cannon roars of thunder.
With each boom we shudder, praying
neither we nor the trees will be zapped,
sizzled or uprooted by the ferocity
clamoring above our heads.
We cringe, yet count this not
the malevolence of a foe;
rather we rejoice in the storm
and bless the sheets of driven rain
bringing life to this thirsty land.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Image by Terry McGraw at Pixabay

Three Tinkles of the Bell

Yesterday I heard three little warning tinkles that provoked some serious thoughts.

What If…

Yesterday morning Marla, the FlyLady, posted a list of practical things everyone should do to be prepared for an emergency. I went over this list of simple, obvious things like being sure you have at least half a tank of gas in your car, some cash handy, a few essentials in a flight bag.

— If there’s a big exit, such as happens in the US when a hurricane’s about to hit, cars may be bumper-to-bumper on the freeway for awhile, so be prepared. If the power’s out, gas pumps won’t work, so don’t let your tank run so low. In fact, many things won’t work if the power’s out: debit machines, ATMs, etc.

— Plan ahead and have your precious stuff near the door or where you can grab it in your rush to evacuate. Keep all precious documents in a safely deposit box, copies at home, duplicate keys and flash-drives a friend or relative’s home. Etc.

Another tinkle chimed in the news yesterday. After several days of record-breaking heat, topping at 49.6C – which is just over 121 F – a fire started and rapidly destroyed 90% of Lytton, a town in the interior of British Columbia. Horrible! Our sympathies to the folks without homes, and in that terrible heat wave. Thankfully the people of Lytton had enough time to get out. How would it be to have JUST ENOUGH time to jump in the car and go?

The next tinkle came when a friend, in the course of our visit, talked about the possibility of fire. On such a windy day as it was yesterday, which made our outdoors like a blast furnace, fire is a terrifying prospect. In fact, we heard that our son-in-law and grandson, members of the local volunteer Fire Dept, were out fighting a fire about 30 km from here. It’s not hard to imagine fires raging in the northern forests, but we’re not as immune as we’d like to think, either.

I’m not anticipating disaster but these tinkles remind me there are some things I could and should do to be prepared. If the need arose for sudden flight, we’d likely grab our two cats, our cell phones and my purse if we could, and dash for the car. Everything else would stay behind, come what may. So which of our belongings are really precious and what can we do to ensure their safety? For those of us who are pack-rats, these are questions worth pondering.

Scintillas of News & Views

I don’t know how it can possibly be July already, but want to wish my fellow Canadians a Happy Canada Day.

Awhile back I used the word MODICUM and it was so well received that I thought today I’d do one of its synonyms: SCINTILLA.

The thesaurus gives this list of alternatives:
atom, bit, crumb, dab, dash, grain, mite, morsel, nit, particle, shade, shadow, shred, smidgen, speck, tad, trace

It’s an old word, according to Merriam-Webster, first used in English in 1661 – the same year the word PUNDIT appeared. This was originally the Hindi word PANDIT, a pandit being a learned and highly respected teacher or leader in India. The word when first introduced into English, referred specifically to these men, but gradually came to be applied to other sages and scholars. However, it’s been given a sarcastic twist in modern days, now referring to a know-it-all who voices his opinion boldly and often at length.

Anyway, here are some scintillas, smidgens or shreds of detail about this past month at our house:

I’m afraid the month of June passed with a minimum of accomplishment by me. I’ve kept basins of water filled for the birds so that’s a twice-a-day thing, and now I’m watering my planters frequently. Today it’s like a blast oven outside; a hot dry wind is attempting to dessicate this land and its inhabitants.

I’ve done next to no writing. I’ve simply lost interest in blogging – and I don’t know why. I’m hoping you other bloggers, busy as you all are, will understand. I’ve been trying to get a few paintings finished with the thought of having a little art show and sale one of these days, but have abandoned my artwork this week as well.

On Monday something rather amazing happened: I got the urge to sew. For me that’s almost a miracle – I haven’t wanted to even look at my sewing machine for a couple of years! So, while the mood’s upon me, I cut out and worked on a dress, also am finishing a couple of other dresses I started (blush) several years ago. Since hemlines have changed drastically around here in the past few years, I’ve had to take out the hem I’d made when styles were quite long, and chop off two inches. We’re going on a week-long trip to visit friends in Quebec where we used to live, so a new dress or two will be nice. Our oldest granddaughter, who just got her driver’s license yesterday, plans to go with us.

We’ve had a few trips to the vet with our cats in the two week. Pookie had a sore on his side – likely caused by the claw of another cat – and it didn’t heal until we got antibiotics last week. But he’s been sick today and we’re wondering if the antibiotic has been too hard on his stomach.

Then last week one evening I let Angus out and he didn’t come home. Not that night nor all the next day; he still wasn’t back the next morning. The neighbour heard a serious cat fight in the night – a stray that showed up here, trying to survive. Angus doesn’t welcome visitors. He finally came limping home the 2nd morning on three legs. A bit of clean-up and antibiotics have put him on the road to better days, though he’ll be limping for awhile yet.

I could become a pundit and rant awhile about people who drop cats off on farms or villages thinking they’ll just settle in! We took Tuffy in last fall but he lacked survival skills; the two other fluffy black cats that showed up this spring haven’t fared well at all.

With regular cooks taking vacations or busy about the yard it’s harder to find casual cooks to do meals at the seniors’ residence. I did one meal in June and will prepare supper there tomorrow and Saturday dinner. I’m very thankful that I recovered so quickly from my surgery at the end of May and tried hard not to lift anything heavy that might cause my hernia to pop again. But my four weeks are up now. I see my surgeon next Monday and I think he’ll say I can resume normal activities.

Last week I borrowed a book from our e-library: The auto-biography of Sidney Poitier, titled The Measure of a Man. Haven’t read it all, but his childhood and youth are really interesting! I got curious last night and checked to see if he’s still living; he is, according to Wiki, and he is 94 years old.

And now I’d best get back to my sewing machine. Take care and have a great summer, everyone.

Monday Musing

Rain. Blessed, Beautiful Rain!

We are getting the precipitation the weatherman has been promising for the past two months. Our rain gauge has registered an inch –2.5 cm– so far and more coming down. Joy, joy! 🙂

I can hear some of you groaning as you read this title, since some places are getting way too much rain, but let’s face it: Earth is not a fair place when it comes to weather. Or resources. Or troubles.

This brings to mind a quote I’ve heard many times through the years: “The Lord doesn’t give you more than you can handle. Do you believe that?

I’m inclined to think the only people who say “God never gives you more than you can handle,” are those who have led fairly peaceful, secure, well financed lives. But tell that to someone who’s just lost their job and is about to lose their home. Or someone like my aunt Sadie who’s lost two sons and a son-in-law in a fiery crash. When her husband committed suicide a year later, I think she had a LOT more than she could handle.

Lately I read a little story: a woman (I’ll call her Dot) who worked very hard at her job and then in her spare hours she did what she could to help her sister and family. When Dot was already at the far end of her handling ability, her sister had some health crisis and needed Dot more than ever. Run ragged now, Dot sighed as she told someone, “They say God doesn’t give you any more than you can handle, but I wish He didn’t have such a good opinion of me!”

Christians often comfort one another with these words, assuming that God tailor-makes every event in our lives. Other folks say, “How can that be? God must be cruel to send some people all the trouble they have.”

A thought occurs to me: If we could always handle all the troubles that come our way, who would ever need God’s help? It’s usually when we realize we’re helpless to deal with the storms of life that we turn to Him. So I think the Lord does allow folks to be overwhelmed by trouble at times, by their own making or circumstances beyond their control, just so they will turn to him and seek his help. He has a strong shoulder we can lean on when we’re weak. He can see things so much more clearly. His gentle voice can guide us around the whirlpools and quicksand that swallow up so many who go it alone.

But I don’t think for a minute that God plans every trouble that comes our way. Our Father in Heaven is not cruel; He doesn’t “send” people murder, mayhem, abuse, famine, accidents, and sickness. Most of these things are caused by other people. We may wish He would reach down and slap someone who’s making the wrong decision or doing a harmful thing, but his warnings are gentle. He doesn’t force anyone to listen, though at times He does put a definite roadblock in someone’s path. Thinking back, we may wish He would have slapped us before we did what we did, but He lets us decide and carry out our plans — then suffer the consequences.

Solomon, with all his wisdom, writes, “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” Ecclesiastes 9:11

Rain happens to pour down in some areas — cause flooding even — while other lands cry out for a drop of moisture. Some people live in an area where the only jobs available — coal mining and fishing, for example — put their lives at risk. Some people are genetically disposed to arthritis or diabetes; some are blessed with longevity. Diets and habits put health at risk. When my sister was dealing with lung cancer, she was pragmatic about it. “I’ve smoked since I was a teen. What can I expect?”

My own opinion, after about sixty years of observation, is that God has set this world in motion and the laws of time, genetics, gravity, climate and commerce carry on — unless He directly intervenes. And there are times when God does miraculously intervene in order to look out for his children, or those who look to him for help.

The Bible is full of examples of how Jehovah intervened to save His chosen people, and others, from some trouble. “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” I Chronicles 16:9

I also believe that when we are overwhelmed, He invites us to bring our sorrows and troubles to him. He will make a way through the storms of life. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28