A Whiff of Smoke

snowy-lane-rail-fence“Even if Mason did walk down this lane, you can’t see anything now, the way it’s drifted in.” Rick shouted over the snowmobile’s engine. “Anyway, there’s nothing at the end but that old homesteader’s shack. I don’t see much point in us going in there.”

Jerry, lifting his snowmobile helmet visor, leaned toward Rick and said. “Frankly, I don’t hold out much hope of finding him alive at all. At -25 with a 65-klicks-an-hour wind he would have died of exposure in minutes.”

“Crazy fool should have stayed in his car. He knows this country, these March storms.”

“He’d had a few too many at the bar, so he wasn’t apt to be thinking so clear when his car hit the ditch back there. He probably fell and got buried by snow.”

Rick gritted his teeth. “That server’s going to be held responsible for this guy’s death. He should have never let a drunk leave the bar.”

“But he claims he warned them — and Mason promised he wasn’t driving. The guy with Mason said he was the DD — and he was sober — so the server let them go.”

“So why wasn’t he? They get in a scrap in the parking lot and now we won’t be finding Mason until the snow melts in spring.”

Jerry lifted his head. “Hey, Rick. Do you smell something?”

Rick sniffed the air. “No. Wait… yeah, I am getting a whiff of something.”

“Wood smoke?” Jerry sniffed again. “And not far away.” The two men gunned their snowmobile motors and zipped down the old lane.

The afternoon new carried the miraculous rescue story. Mason Horwich wandered away from his vehicle in a storm and managed to follow an old lane into an abandoned farmyard. Thanks to a supply of firewood the previous owner had stacked up against his shack and Horwich finding the matches the farmer had stored in a glass jar to stay dry, the thirty-year-old father of four was now safely at home with his family.

“I’m so thankful to be alive,” Horwich was quoted as saying as his children clustered around him. “I don’t deserve this.”

He especially thanked his rescuers, Jerry and Rick, who’d gone for shovels and dug him out of the old shack where he’d taken shelter. Mrs Horwich told reporters she’d been praying all morning, fearing the worst and had wept with relief when she got word that he’d been found.


Word Press daily prompt: exposure


I was happy when I looked out my cabin window this morning and saw the huge flakes coming down soft as white rain. And no wind. This was my chance to slip up to the little cave and grab another bag of gold nuggets.

Searching for gold last summer in the ‘Caribou country’ of British Columbia, I’d come across a small cavern a few miles west of my claim. Poking around with my pick inside I uncovered a vein of gold. I’d struck it rich! So I staked that claim, too, and built my shack in a valley nearby.

However, I knew I’d have to be careful. Lots of other miners are nosing around these days, paying attention to anyone who comes into town with gold nuggets and following them to their claim. I can’t guard the vein twenty-four-seven and leaving bags of gold stacked in my cabin sure isn’t a smart plan. A fellow has to use his head. So I dug this little cave in the mountain a mile or so from my cabin, stored my gold inside, and covered it all up carefully. Now that it’s winter I only hike up there when I know my steps aren’t going to show. Just in case.

So once I’d had my breakfast this morning I threw on my overalls, boots and parka, grabbed the pick I’d need to move a few rocks. At a whim I stuffed a box of matches and a couple of candles into my pocket, too. Out here a person needs to be prepared; never know when you may have to start a fire. Then I headed out as those pure white crystals swirled around me. We’d already had a few good dumps of snow, so the world is a pretty place in the morning light. I looked back and saw that my steps were disappearing in the sifting snow. I nodded. No one’s going to follow me for long.

Now I’ve climbed up the side of the hill to my cave and raise my eyes to the cliffs above. Pretty white up there. We’ve had a lot of snow all right. With my pick I move a few loose rocks from the entrance to my cache, then get down on my hands and knees to crawl through the opening.

This isn’t a big cave, but roomy enough. Last summer I found and took advantage of a natural gap in the rocks so I didn’t have to move all the dirt out myself; now the rock walls give the place enough support I needn’t worry about it caving in on me while I’m here. I wiggle myself through the opening and pause to rest a minute.

In the dim light I see the bags of gold I’d stacked against the rock, and take a deep breath. There’s enough gold stacked up here to make me a rich man back home. I can live comfortably for the rest of my days. But I want to get as much as I can from that vein before I pack up and go home next fall.

A shadow seems to fall across the cave and I glance through the opening. Snow seems to be coming down by the bucket now and the wind is picking up some, so I’d better shake a leg. As long as I can see the summit of West Ridge I’m all right, but I sure wouldn’t want to get lost in a snowstorm.

Suddenly I hear a rumbling from high up in the mountain, getting louder by the second until it sounds like the whole mountain is crashing down. An earthquake? Can’t be. The rocks around me aren’t shaking; it’s all just noise. I crawl to the opening and see snow falling by the ton in front of my eyes. Before long I see nothing anymore. My cave is black now, the opening blocked by a wall of snow. I push at it, but it isn’t budging.

The darkness feels like ink. Sinister, like you’ve just been swallowed by some monster and are in its belly waiting to be digested. Instinctively I pull out my candles and matches, but hesitate to light them. Do I want to use them up so soon? How thick is that wall? How long will it take me to dig myself out? An hour? A day? I slip the things back into my pocket.

I try moving some of the snow away from the entrance, putting forth a lot of effort and accomplishing nothing. So I sit for awhile, feeling stiff from the cold but grateful I wasn’t outside when that snow came down. I’d have been buried alive! I give thanks for the rock walls that are holding up around me. Had this cave been dug out of the dirt, it might well have caved in from the force of the snow.

I think about lighting a little fire. I did stack a bit of wood in here in case I’d need some dry stuff sometime. Sure glad I brought those matches!

I get up on my hands and knees and feel around; my hand touches a piece of kindling and I pull it towards me. Then remember a fire will use up oxygen. I toss the kindling aside. How long will it be before I run out of air?

To be continued tomorrow…

For awhile now I haven’t given myself permission to sit down and write a long-winded story. It takes so much time! But when I read today’s writing prompt, I decided to forget the clock and just let my imagination take me where it would. This three-part story is the result — hope you enjoy it.

Winter Whimper!

It was c-c-c-cold here this morning. When I checked the weather at 8am it was -37 C in Saskatoon with a wind speed at 16 kmph, which gives a wind chill factor of -50 C.
Translation for our Yankee friends:
A temp of -34F with a 10 mph wind makes it feel like -58 F.

Of course the weather was one subject we discussed over dinner at the Villa. (I’m cooking there today.) Wilbert Esau is living at the Villa again for a few weeks as he recovers from his broken hip. At the dinner table he talked of one morning up in the Peace River country when it was extremely cold.

He and his dad had taken the team of horses to town and the temp was -73 that day. Thankfully there wasn’t even a puff of wind! He said the horses’ puffed along and their breath just hung in the air like little white clouds, much like the jet streaks you see in the sky. All the way home again they saw these little clouds just hanging motionless in the air.

A Winter Night
by Sarah Teasdale

My window-pane is starred with frost,
The world is bitter cold to-night,
The moon is cruel, and the wind
Is like a two-edged sword to smite.

God pity all the homeless ones,
The beggars pacing to and fro,
God pity all the poor to-night
Who walk the lamp-lit streets of snow.

My room is like a bit of June,
Warm and close-curtained fold on fold,
But somewhere, like a homeless child,
My heart is crying in the cold.

Friends Never Forget

Grey doves flutter
onto rain-soaked sidewalk
to find the man who sits,
rain or shine, on a bench
all alone but for his
pocketful of seeds.
Friends never forget.

One time as we walked through a park in the city we observed a man sitting on a bench. At first it looked like a scene from “The Birds” and he was being attacked by a dozen pigeons. But we could see as we got closer he was feeding them from his pockets.
His appearance was rather seedy as well; one could easily take him for a social outcast. I had to wonder if maybe the birds were his best friends. Seems they found no fault in him.


Ornithologist’s News Flash:

I saw a bald eagle today. I drove home from work at the villa this afternoon and just as I stopped the car here at home an eagle left his perch on a tree just to the north, flew in an arc almost over our trailer so I could get a good look at him, then settled on another nearby branch. Maybe birds know that I’m one of their fans, too?


Cold Enough Here!

We all had a chuckle in church this morning as Jay Bullock, a visiting brother from Avera, (near Augusta) Georgia, got up with some opening thoughts to our service. He said that as he’d gotten off the plane and stepped outside the coolness of the air felt very refreshing–for a few seconds until he felt the real bite behind it.

I checked the local weather condition at 7am this morning: It was -34 C in the city with a wind chill factor of -51. In Georgia that would translate to -28 F with a bitter wind that feels just like -60. Somewhat colder than those folks are used to feeling. Neither the garage door opener or the command start want to work at this temp.

The temperature is supposed to inch up to -31 (-28 F) today. That should thaw our noses. On the way home from church my husband was wishing some of that “global warming” would waft down again. We’ve concluded that God is having the last word regarding this latest theory of man; ever since folks got all fired up about global warming the weather has been very –no, extremely– uncooperative in proving it valid. We’ve hit some record lows and seen some record floods in the past ten years.

Brother Jay came to pay his last respects at the funeral of our brother Dave Fehr tomorrow. Dave passed away suddenly of a heart attack Tuesday, just a few hours before the new year chimes rang. They’d returned from a trip and he had gone outside to shovel some snow from in front of the garage so he could put their van inside, but then collapsed on the doorstep, which is where his wife found him a few minutes later.

There’s to be a family service (mainly a sharing of memories) tonight at the church, then a funeral tomorrow afternoon at a large church in Warman. The family is expecting a huge crowd, as Dave was married and widowed twice before, had twelve children –eleven surviving him– numerous grands & great-grands and other relatives. He farmed in the Warman area most of his life.

The suddenness of his death has hit us all, some like us who are in his age bracket feel it more. He was 77 and in reasonably good health; the doctor told him a few weeks ago that his heart was very good. Now, without warning , it stopped. This shows us the need to be prepared. He didn’t join the rest of us in welcoming in the new year, rather he has been welcomed Home.

Here’s a little verse to encourage everyone. Do what you can today to make the world brighter; tomorrow may never come.

No regretting! Save your fretting,
no sense wasting yet more time.
Try today to live the right way;
leave a trail of blessings behind.

Don’t say “Tomorrow, no more sorrow
I’ll be cheerful and benign.”
Walk today that friendly way.
What joys along the path you’ll find!


Twelve Days of Christmas Weather

100212-SnowshoeingFromtheHousetotheCarinWinter1In the month of December the weather brought to me
twelve drifted driveways,
eleven highway closures,
ten white-outs whipping,
nine blizzards raging,snowy terrace
eight snowbanks building,
seven sleet storms pelting,
six sundogs shining,
five sunny days!
Four freezing rains,snowy park walk
three dense fogs,
two warmer spells
and a dusting of snow on the trees.

Dedicated to our friends in Eastern Canada who are digging themselves our right now.

Sunlight and Diamond Dust

Diamond Dust

Hoar frost jewels
tumble from the trees,
generous glitters bestowed
on us as we explore our
Father’s treasure house–
a poor man’s mine.


An important note to readers of this blog:
Some time ago I subscribed to the blog ‘Customize’ option, which has allowed me the color and font variety you see. I am about to renew this option–or even upgrade–but before I decide I have one question to ask you.

For awhile now WordPress has been telling me they are putting an ad at the bottom of my posts. I can’t see it, nor have I seen any ads on other blogs I’ve been reading. I’d really like to know if you can see this ad and if you find it offensive.

Twas the Day After Christmas…

…and Mom was back to eating celery sticks.

Hello Everyone,

I hope you had a great Christmas Day yesterday and made some warm memories to add to your collection? We certainly enjoyed our day. Are you still nibbling on Christmas goodies or has self-restraint kicked in again?

We attended a church service in the morning, where we were reminded of God’s love for us and His gift to us. Jesus really is “the reason for the season.” Then we spent the rest of the day together with Ken and Michelle and our four grandchildren. First we feasted, then we gifted, then noshed, related and relaxed.

For me this Christmas day was definitely an encouragement in the writing line. Bob gave me three books:
one tells me how to publish my own e-book (The Global Indie Author by M.A. Demers)
one was about how to edit my own work (Editor-Proof Your Writing by Don McNair)
and one was about how to stay sane while doing all this (Crazy Busy by Kevin Deyoung.)

While we were together, the grandchildren encouraged me even further. They said, “You should write a WHOLE STACK of books!” Now that’s a tall order. And in the afternoon our son-in-law was introducing me to Corel Draw, which he has on his computer and I don’t. To illustrate its capabilities he set up a sample front cover for Silver Morning Song.

With all this encouragement, how can I help but keep on writing? (After I get all these books read.☺)

I’ve been writing about my upcoming book, Silver Morning Song. I was really hoping to announce its arrival this year yet, but it has suffered a serious setback and will take awhile longer to appear. For various reasons I changed my mind about doing it through Friesen Press and hope to publish it myself as an e-book. (Hence the step-by-step instruction manual for Christmas.)

Looking ahead, here are a few projects I have in mind for the winter:
– study these editing and publishing manuals
– prepare and /or publishing my manuscripts (I have four in the works.)
– sew a few things for my granddaughters and myself
– give the house a good cleaning
– work on the new jigsaw puzzles I received as Christmas presents☺

That ought to keep me busy–but hopefully not crazy. What goals are you setting for yourself for the first months of the New Year?

So Cold Our Sunbeams Have Turned to Icicles

A week or so ago The Write Practice posted an interesting article on hyperbole and adynation. See http://thewritepractice.com/hyperbole-adynaton/

It’s so cold today that my thoughts want to go to extremes in description. At 8am this morning it was -34 C (-28F) with a wind chill factor below -40. And that is cold! Wasn’t it poet Robert W Service that wrote about words spoken outside being frozen in midair and you had to take them inside and thaw them to hear what the person said to you?

Hyperbole is exaggeration that draws an extreme parallel of sorts. It’s used to emphasize a point or a feeling. “His nose is out of joint” is a common one that comes to mind. Or “once in a blue moon.” Yes, there is actually such a thing as a blue moon, but it doesn’t come often.

Other suggestions:
— “Yeah, she shows up every now and then. When it snows in Miami.”
— “I’ll start loving liver when cats start loving dogs.” (In fact I avoid it like the plague, but that’s a cliche now.)
— He’ll learn to keep out of trouble when deer stop jumping in front of cars.
— She’ll quit running back to him when seagulls quit following fishing boats.

Now if I say, “It’s so cold our sunbeams land as icicles and I’ve had to dodge quite a few today,” that would be adynaton, or completely unbelievable exaggeration.

One day when I was back for a visit to the prairies my brother told me, “It’s been so dry out here we have frogs two years old that still haven’t learned to swim.” You get the picture of a parched and barren land? Actually there are rivers and lakes here — and frogs that swim in them.

Then there’s the old joke about the Scotsman: “When he was filling up at the service station he saw the sign ‘Free Air.’  So he drove over to the pump and blew out four tires.”

Used wisely these are some techniques that can give color to your writing. The Write Practice article writer, Liz Bureman, gives the common example, “when pigs fly.” Here are a few other suggestions:
— when mice meow
— when the sun turns green
— when the moon turns to cream and pours into the Big Dipper
— when it snows scarlet feathers
— when elephants start throwing peanuts back at the tourists

Do you have any other examples to share, some you have read or dreamed up?

A Long Walk One Dark Night

I’d like to give a warm welcome to all my new Followers on this chilly day. (Thankfully it’s warmer than yesterday when the temp dropped to -29C or -16 F.)

I’m glad you are finding my blog interesting and hope to keep it so. For the past three weeks I’ve been working away at my Nano novel and hope to be done very soon. Hurray! I’m ready to come back to civilization again. (I see some brave folks doing novels this month have whacked out 100,000 words already. I don’t know how they do it!)

This is a mystery story I’m writing for my grandson and it’s been a really good exercise for me. Because I needed a 50,000 word count I’ve had to think up more and more explorations, clues, and disasters than I ever had in mind when I started. And I didn’t just want to write filler I’d have to delete later, so I’ve tried to make them all a logical part of my story. This took stirring up and stretching this old gray matter, but it’s all coming together!

Going through my files this morning I came across the following story (rewritten from an old Friendship Book account.) I may have posted it once already on one of my blogs, but I hope you new readers will enjoy it.

A Long Walk and A Lesson Learned

Back in 1928 a family had taken a holiday on the Hebrides island of Lewis, in the north of Scotland.  Doctor Macleod’s roots were in this little isle and he  had brought his family back to the village where he’d been born. They’d had a jolly good time visiting around amongst various of his friends and met all the relatives.

All good things come to an end and so did this trip, so they piled into the car one day and headed for home. The day went by and evening came on.

As they were motoring along the children in the back seat got into a discussion that became rather heated.  Son Iain, who felt himself in danger of losing the argument, started to get pretty huffy about his siblings’ pig-headed resistance.  After all, he was right!  “If no one is going to agree with me, “ he declared, “I’ll get out right now and walk home.”

His threat was designed to make the others give in; of course he had no intention of carrying them out.  But his father had been listening all along and decided the boy needed a lesson, so he stopped the car, got out and silently opened the boy’s door.

Though not a word was said, the message was loud and clear. Iain had no choice but to get out — thirteen miles from home.

It was a long, long walk and well after midnight when he finally arrived at his home, exhausted and thoroughly chilled.  He found the door unlocked for him, but everyone was in bed and all the lights were out.  Quietly he crept into his own bed, scolding himself for his foolish words and attitude.

His parents never mentioned the incident again, but Iain had plenty of time to repent on his long walk and decided that from now on he’d be stubborn only in issues of serious right and wrong, he’d give more consideration to the other fellow’s point of view and recognize that he could be wrong.  This lesson stood him in good stead when in later years he became a politician.