Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Canada (01/29/09)
By Tammy Bovee
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When Pa finally brought the horses to a halt and un-harnessed them to drink in a spring, Pa had just enough time to hastily erect a makeshift shack for the family and barn for the animals. Ma and Grandmother cooked the food, biscuits seemed to be their specialty, with fresh butter, and homemade preserves put up before the long journey. The whole family worked hard with the chores and collecting buffalo dung to burn in the stove over the long winter, but the two youngsters, a girl and a boy somehow found time to get in trouble.
It started “incently” little Annie recounted as she tried to ‘splain to Ma why she thought she would “jest” hitch up the sleigh bells to the unbroken yearling foul. As hard as she tried to ‘splain things, nothing would change the fact Pa was still traipsing cross the prairie “a searchin” for the poor blame thing.
“Twen’ty ten, Thirty! Ready or not here I come…” shouted Annie as she started off to seek her kid brother. Annie was sure she knew all the best places hiden’ spots, but Will, much to Annie’s dismay found one better. “Little Will! Where d’ya go off to? The game’s up. Come on out’ a hidin’ now!” But no Little Will. Annie looked up in the hay loft, down behind old Bess the cow, behind the water trough and the feedin’ bins but still no Little Will. All of a sudden she had a thought and ran out to the spring. Sure ‘nough, there was Little Will… afloatin’ funny-like in the water. So Annie reached down in the water and did pulled brother in. As she told Ma later, ‘he twasn’t breathin’ none so I hauled off and kicked em’ a few times and sat down on his stomach. T’was then he sputtered and coughed a whole lot, and he did say ‘“aw sis, why’d ya’ do that for?”
As the first snow fell the family hoped they’d saved enough provisions to sustain them, and put up sufficient dung to burn in the stove for warmth. Pa had found some firewood to chop on his 2 day journey to reclaim the yearling foul, so between the little coal they managed to bring with them, the buffalo dung and the several cords of firewood they felt they could manage, if they rationed.
As the big snows came Ma and Grandmother busied themselves cooking, mending, sewing, knitting while Pa took care of the horses and livestock. Pa stayed busy between chores snowshoeing out to find meat for the family and making plans for the crops he would plant come springtime.
And with much patience spring did come to the family crowded into the little shack but as the snows melted across the prairies, with the thaw came a surprise none was expecting… floods.
Grandmother was ill and couldn’t get out of bed for the several days, so as the family repacked their belongings into their covered wagon, they hoisted the shack up too, grandmother inside, and journeyed to stake another claim on higher ground. Much to the family’s surprise, as they stopped at their next claim Grandmother emerged from the shack with a batch of piping hot biscuits.
Grandma read many stories… one of a Father and son who had been estranged because the son felt a call to the ministry and not the family farm. After almost a lifetime, the son finally brought his family around for a visit and stayed for days “mending fences”.
As I listened to the stories and looked at the old pictures I realized the strong thread of grace that God had somehow stitched through the fabric of my family, through humor and heartache, now forever embroidered into our tapestry.
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