Musings from the Hill
The Magic Day is imminent
“Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat, please put a penny in the old man’s hat, If you haven’t got penny a ha-penny will do, if you haven’t got a ha-penny God Bless You.” So goes the old nursery rhyme. The appeals are many. The needs are many. Why, in one of the richest countries in the world, do we permit hunger?
This bone chilling cold has left us stunned. Fortunately, I did not go to Texas! Ice, snow and power outages have almost immobilized the Dallas area. My daughter, Candy, lost power briefly. Fortunately last year I installed a gas fireplace in her house.
Chelsea, my great granddaughter, received four round-trip tickets from Dallas to Connecticut. It was a very special gift from her biological father, his wife and three children. The grandfather in Connecticut has never seen his grandchildren. The Dallas airport was closed. They drove icy roads to a different air terminal, with two children under 3. Last I heard, they were stuck in that airport. Chelsea, who is computer wise, set up the children in strollers and they contentedly watched children’s programs on computers. Of course, they ran out of money. Finally, they found a Popeye’s Chicken and obtained affordable food. The Connecticut group now had to go to a different airport to pick them up. Finally they arrived in Connecticut. Chelsea has a serious operation scheduled for Friday in Texas. The New York area is already talking of terminals closing. Traveling during the winter holidays is risky.
Back to our area — I heard the calls of many geese on the lake this morning and was surprised. I guess they do not know where to head for warmer climes. Normally at this time of the year in Dallas birds are in abundance. With Dallas in deep freeze, birds are as confused as we are. Do not forget our fine, feathered friends. One of their greatest needs is water. I do not have an electric warmer to keep water ice free. Feed is easy to toss out, but an ice-free water source is difficult to find.
One blessing with all this deep freeze is the absence of wind. I can keep my all-electric house warm; unless the power goes off. If the power goes off, the pipes must be drained and I shall have to leave. One way to alleviate the problem of pipelines freezing is to let both the hot and cold water run a thin trickle. No gas lines on the hill: one must install a propane tank. Be sure it is full before winter. A fuel truck cannot get up the hill — neither can an ambulance, because the road is not ploughed. Sometimes a thin coating of ice is all it takes to invite disaster — as I found out last winter, when I fell and broke my hip.
How did the early residents, those pioneers of the plains, survive? A story is told of a wagon starting from a tiny town near Prairie Village to their home about 50 miles west. It was a fine fall day, warm and sunny, the family had no hint of trouble. A sudden blizzard struck and the little family was found frozen to death on the prairie.
In our area, pioneers were fortunate. I live on an old timber claim. Families in town or on nearby farms on treeless land often owned woodlots in the Vinland hills. Most were abandoned when coal, oil and gas came into use. Fine old trees still lie in the timber; felled but never utilized. Old wagon trails barely discernible wind through these hilly uplands. One goes by my house. A family with a good woodlot harvested it carefully. No clear cutting here! Wood was a crop, like hay. Happy, safe Holidays!
Addendum — last week’s column on Pearl Harbor: The Navy lost three times as many men that day as in the Spanish-American War and World War I combined.