By O’Ceallaigh –
Summers were always very busy around our place in the old days. It seems that we never had the time to get wood for the fires of winter when the weather was warm and descent. It always waited until winter time when the snow was deep and it was freezing cold. Either that or it would be in the spring when everything was mud and the creeks were full and rushing.
We had an old wood-burning kitchen range that used a lot of “kitchen wood.” That stuff was split up into pieces about 12 to 16 inches long and about 3 inches wide. Generally it was my job to bring in the kitchen-wood – “if you want anything to eat!” Dad used to say.
That job I hated because it was generally in the winter, or at least it seemed like that. Thinking back, I suppose Mom had to cook in the summer, too, but I only remember bringing in the wood in the winter, all caked with snow! Somewhere along the way my dad installed a wood box in the back room which prevented the melting snow from the wood, running all over the floor of the kitchen.
I still had to bring it in, but I could schedule it a little better and fetch it while it was dry. It worked out so much better.
I think my Mother liked it better, too.
One spring day when the snow was melted, Dad decided it was time to go to the woods to get a load of wood cut. All five of us got dressed up as warm as possible and headed down across the 10 acre field, down the “dugway” to the creek.
Now, my mother was a worrier. I expect we all have folks in our ancestry who have been worriers but I’m not so sure that any have been as bad as my mother. She worried about everything!
On this day, when we got to the creek, it was a raging torrent! We were in the wagon with the horses pulling it but the creek; – oh, this was no match for the wagon and the horses! Mom insisted that the rushing water would wash us all down the creek and she would lose her entire family in one fell swoop!
So, we all off-loaded the wagon and then Dad got back in and drove the horses across the stream while we all huddled around Mom demonstrating appropriate concern! With several of Mom’s expressions of instructional epithets, Dad made it to the other side.
He was then obligated to return by wading back across the stream to get us, one at a time; Mom had to go first so she’d be there on the other side to receive us on our arrival.
So the transfer began; Mom on Dad’s back while he stepped into the raging torrent, teetering and stumbling and almost falling!
I began to wonder what it would be like living as an orphan. I tried not to think of my parents being washed down-stream the entire two and a half miles to Lake Chautauqua! Fear gripped my young heart!
I became a worrier that day!
But, they made it to the other side!
Then my brother, my sister and finally me.
I climbed on Dad’s back, grabbed onto his jacket collar and held on for dear life! I looked down and the brown, muddy rushing water! I began thinking about Chautauqua Lake! I decided not to breathe, just in case!
Dad stepped onto the opposite shore and I opened my eyes and finally could breathe again. He put me on the ground.
I looked at Dad’s old barn boots. They were wet about half way to his knees!
It was then that I realized that it was rather useless to worry. First, because Dad had everything under control and secondly, because there was nothing I could do to improve the situation anyway. I decided that day, too, that it probably would have been better to have just stayed in the wagon and been carried across the raging torrent that was only about 8 inches deep and about 15 feet across!
But, youth and childhood is, after all, a time of learning.
“But now thus saith the Lord that created thee,… Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:….” (Isaiah 43:1,2)