My son was ill last week, at first we thought he had food poisoning, then when he didn't get better, we thought it was a really bad flu, but he kept getting sicker and nothing seemed to help him. Finally on Saturday I called a physician friend of mine, and he happened to be working in the local ER Saturday night so he told me to bring him in. We went in there at 8 pm, and they whisked Jon to the back almost immediately. Some blood tests, IV's and examinations and shortly after a diagnosis of acute appendicitis. So a surgeon was contacted and by 10:30pm we were heading over to a larger hospital so he could have surgery.
He was in surgery by 1 am and out at 3am, and back home by 8pm Sunday evening... what a 24 hrs! The main thing is he is fine, and now just needs to start eating again ( hasn't eaten anything solid in 6 days).
So there went my weekend...
I actually forgot today was Monday and we were supposed to do the contest over again... This time around I will make it really simple.... the winner will be the third person to email me on Wednesday. email me with your name and address Wednesday am to firstname.lastname@example.org.
So back to Winter Wheat we go.......
Long before the blizzard, Karl had promised the children that they could accompany him when it came time to cut the Christmas tree, and all too soon that day was upon them.
Emilie balked at the idea of the whole family riding a good distance away just to cut a tree.
“Why can’t you just take the older boys and go?”
“Because I promised, and a promise is a promise.” He watched her struggle with herself and knew what lay behind it. She had had a terrible experience – they all had – but winter travel was a way of life and she needed to put the experience of being stranded in the blizzard behind her.
“Sooner or later you are going to have to get on that wagon again, Emilie. This is the best time for you to do that. We will go in the daylight, and be home before dark and we will not be traveling alone. Frederich’s wagon will travel with us this time.”
She knew all that – still the thought of being stranded again terrorized her like nothing ever had before.
In the end, Karl and the children won the argument. Two days before Christmas, two sleighs loaded with men, women and children and packed with enough food to feed a small army, left Karl’s yard in the frosty early morning air.
The children were wound tighter than a top, and the adults were hopeful that it would be the happiest day that any of them had experienced in a long while.
As they set off, the children playfully rolled around in the wagon bed, singing Christmas songs and telling stories to one another about their idea of the perfect Christmas tree. The older children playfully tossed one another over the sides of the wagon, and then ran alongside until they could swing themselves back up into the box. The younger children cheered and wished that they too could be tossed out into the deep snow, but they remained safely tucked close together in the wagon box.
The day was sunny and bright, and even though the air had a biting nip to it, the would-be foresters were content to travel along the snow-packed trail that would take them up to the mountains where the best spruce trees could be found.
They rode for an hour, passing bush after bush of poplar, oak and willow, and it was only when the flat prairie disappeared and the first of many steep hills leading to the small mountain range began, that they spied their first pine. Tall thin pines now replaced the willow – the lush green vegetation of the pines stuck out above the tree line, and beckoned Karl to the section of land that they had come so far to see. Karl slowed his team, and inspected the area. An expectant hush came over the occupants of the wagons until Karl nodded his head and pulled back firmly on the reigns.
“This is it! Everyone out!” He ordered his helpers.
The second wagon came to a stop behind Karl’s rig, and one by one the families began to leave them. Anne-Marie and Warren were placed on the long toboggan that had been added to the supplies for the day; then the whole group of adults and children set off for the thick bush to the right of the road.
Karl led the way; his long strides efficient and sure blazed a trail of human footsteps through the virgin snow. He moved quickly, so quickly in fact, that everyone, save Frederich, had difficulty keeping up with him. He strode forward like one born to the land; his wool hat pulled low across his forehead, and the large thick axe he carried, slung carelessly over his shoulders.
The children, anxious to cut a tree, chose several likely trees along the route, but he insisted with every step he took that better trees were still ahead of them; and he was right. A few more paces brought them to several trees that were absolutely beautiful and perfect in every way.
Emilie, who had never experienced this kind of adventure before, was almost as excited as the children by the time the two perfect trees were selected. Within minutes the tree chopping had begun in earnest. Everyone took a turn behind the axe; the children formed a line and waited patiently for their turn to take a swing at their chosen tree. Karl held the axe for the smaller children and made a big play of praising their chopping skills, even though all they really had contributed was the holding of the axe handle. Even Emilie was called forward to give it a try.
“Oh no, that’s okay,” she waved her hands in the air and backed away from where Karl stood with the axe. “I’ll leave the cutting to you,” she indicated the line of children who were more than ready to take another turn at the axe.
Karl smiled, conspiring with the children. “I don’t think that’s fair. Do you?” He questioned the group of children.
“No” they yelled out in unison.
Satisfied that he had forced her hand, Karl approached Emilie again, and opened his arms so she might take position inside them, close to the axe.
“Really, Karl,” she whispered, and her already rosy cheeks flamed brighter.
“Come on Emilie,” he chuckled as he drew her closer and wrapped his arms around her body. He stood behind her, completely surrounding her, and directed her shaking hands to the axe handle.
“Everyone’s watching,” he breathed into her ear, as he placed his big hands over her smaller ones on the axe handle.
She felt the warmth of his breath on the side of her face, and the heat of it went straight to her toes.
“Now all you have to do is swing,” his deep voice soft and warm in her ear instructed.
Emilie turned her head, and realized her mistake at once. Her action had put his mouth perilously close to her own. She watched as Karl’s eyes slid to her lips, and for a moment she thought that he was going to kiss her again. Their breaths mingled as an exhaust of frosty air surrounded their faces. Time stopped, as they filled their eyes with each other, and then it was over. Karl released her with a start, and she stepped out of his embrace, without remembering to swing the axe.
Emilie hurried away as fast as her shaking legs could carry her, but not fast enough to escape the pure mischief that was evident in some of the children’s eyes. Their whispers and giggles told her that everyone present had witnessed the brief exchange with Karl; and that for some of them, it was cause for much delight. Emilie moved off to where Annie was working at setting their winter picnic lunch out on the tailgate of the wagon box. She knew that Annie had witnessed her moment with Karl as well, and she waited for the comment she was certain Annie would make; but other than the smirk on her face, and the twinkle in her eyes, Annie remained quiet.
By the time the men and the children had cut two trees to the ground, lunch was ready to be served. It took no amount of coaxing for the children or the men to come for the meal that the women had provided, and soon the large group was quiet as they sat around the makeshift campsite to consume their meal.
Emilie wondered at the children’s ability to adapt to different circumstances in their lives. Rosy-cheeked and cold, none of them complained about the weather or the prospect of riding yet another hour to return to their warm homes. They certainly seemed to have completely forgotten about another excursion not so very long ago when the outcome had been terrifying and could have been so much more devastating than it was. Instead they ate heartily and then rushed off to play in the snow, until it was time to pack up and return home again.
One by one, the weary bunch was loaded back into the wagons and using the extra thick blankets that Annie and Emilie had brought along, the children settled down, huddled close and covered up. Conversation was slow and quiet and Emilie knew that the smaller children slept as they slowly made their way home.
At the front of the wagon all was quiet as well. Karl and Emilie sat side by side, but they could have been miles apart, each absorbed as they were by their own thoughts. Karl brooded over his growing affection for his housekeeper, while Emilie wondered about the look of desire that had been in Karl’s eyes as he had held her in his embrace.
Every now and then, one of the children would pop their head up and look behind the wagon just to make sure that the trees they had worked so hard to obtain were still following along behind where they had been secured with thick rope. Then all would be quiet again.