Living for the past 35 or so years out here on the relatively mild Canadian west coast, it’s not all that uncommon for people who know that I spent some of my early years living in the central part of the country, to ask me if the stories they have heard about just how cold it can get in Northern Manitoba are really true, or if they’ve been exaggerated somewhat. Whenever I’m asked that question, I always think back to one particular night that I spent as a young boy with my father out on the trap-line. It had been an unusually cold day to begin with, the mercury in the thermometer hovering around the -35 F. mark, so when a stiff north wind started to blow just as the sun began to sink, my father and I both knew it was going to be what we referred to as a tipi-night.
Now a tipi-night, as you’ve probably guessed by now, was given that name because of the type of shelter we used on those special occasions. On regular evenings, nights that were cold, but not anything out of the ordinary, if we couldn’t make it back to the cabin before dark, we would set up a small nylon pup-tent, climb into our sleeping bags, and we would be fine until morning. But there were times, and that night was definitely turning into a bad one, when the temperature would drop so low, usually due to high winds, when the nylon tent just didn’t do the trick. Aside from the danger of it just blowing down around your ears (it’s not always easy to anchor anything into frozen ground), the Arctic winds would just pass the cold right through almost as if you were just sleeping outside. So for those nights, strapped to the side of the dog-sled, my father had a medium-sized tipi
(just big enough for 2) that he had acquired somewhere along the pathways of his very interesting life. It was made of canvas, which did a much better job of keeping the wind out, and bonus of all bonuses, because it was a tipi, it was vented at the top which meant you could have a small fire right inside where you were sitting or sleeping. Without a doubt the way to go on a bad night, and from the way the howling wind was already starting to chill me right through my parka and two or three other layers of clothes, this was going to be a bad one to remember.
My father must have seen me shivering because he sent me to find a little bit of fallen tree branches (not an easy task on the Tundra, and something I speak about at more length in my Tall Tale “Unbearable”) to start a small fire in the tipi, and to load in the supplies that he didn’t want left on the sled overnight. While I did that, he worked on getting a larger fire going outside, and storing the food away so as not to attract animals; he also fed the dogs.
I had just gotten everything in order when the flap flew open and a cold blast of air pushed my father into the tipi. For a moment he just huddled around the fire I had built and I could see he was trying to get some warmth into his body. Even the fur collar on his parka looked like it was frozen stiff. As he warmed up a bit, he saw that I was in the process of unzipping my jacket. He asked me what I was doing and I told him I was getting ready to climb into my sleeping bag and go to sleep. He told me I could if I wanted to, and then with a sly grin on his face, he said but then I’d miss all the fun because his friend Ben had just shown up with his nephew, and since it was getting dark, my dad had told them they should set up their tent outside of the tipi over by the big fire he had just built. He told me even though it had gotten a lot colder outside since I came in, if I wanted to help him get Ben set up, then maybe we could all huddle around that big fire and tell some tall tales, or maybe some ghost stories for a little bit before everyone turned in for the night. Basically, I think he wanted to make sure his friends were going to be OK out there before he allowed himself to settle down for the night. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough room for 4 people in the tipi no matter how you worked it. Just before letting in another blast of icy wind as he went back out, my dad left one final challenge hanging in the frozen air, “That’s if you think you’re grown-up enough to handle the coldest night of your life and hang with the big folks and the polar bears?” Then he laughed once and he was gone. The tipi flap had just barely slapped shut by the time I had pulled my first mukluk back on.
As anxious as I was to get out and see Ben and Rick (Ben’s nephew) I made absolutely certain – like my father had always taught me – that I took the time to dress properly before I threw back the flap and stepped out into the wavering light cast by the fire that was roughly 8-10 feet directly in front of the tipi. That’s why I know that it had nothing to do with my carelessness or anything like that, yet when that cold hit me after my second step it was like walking into a soaking wet sheet of frozen razor blades. I reflexively drew in a startled gasp of air through the muffler that I had wrapped twice around my face, and instinctively turning around, gave serious thought to diving back into the tipi, never again to emerge until Summer was well into mid-season; even then I was going to keep my parka on.
I actually did make a grab at the flap, but before I could get a grip on it through my heavy mittens, the first odd thing in a series of odd things occurred, that would finally prove to me once and for all that this was the coldest night the world had ever known, and the world may never know another one like it until the day our good old Sun finally burns itself out. And just what was this strange occurrence that heralded the coldest night ever known? It was a laugh, a part of a laugh to be more precise, and a piece of a laugh that along with several other pieces of several other laughs, and parts of conversation, were totally and completely out of rhyme. Let me explain.
As I now stood there in front of the tipi, with my back to the fire 8-10 feet away, and the three men sitting around it, It sounded to me like they were conversing in a foreign tongue, the structure of which I was totally unfamiliar with…with one little problem. The words, which I could clearly hear, were English. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the words, it was the rhythm that was all wrong. And now a second thing occurred that only added to my growing confusion, and believe me when I say I was confused. I was so confused that I had temporarily at least, forgotten that I was quite likely standing there freezing to death. Anyway, the second thing that was adding to my puzzlement was that I could distinctly hear the sound of sizzling as though the men were frying something, but the sizzling sound also was coming and going in some strange kind of rhythm quite unlike the steady sound you would expect if someone were cooking something in a frying pan.
It was my fingers and toes starting to get rather painful that snapped me out of my motionless state, and turning around, I managed rather stiff-legged (it was too cold to even think about bending my knees) to start slowly moving towards the fire. As I did so, the third odd thing was revealed to me. Peering through the slit I had left in the wrapped muffler for my eyes, I was finally getting a better look at the three individuals sitting around the fire, but due to the way they were positioned (trying to keep the wind at their backs), I still couldn’t see any of their faces dead on, and none of them could see me approaching from their backside. What I could see only added to the mystery and I have to admit that despite the fact that the conversation which I could make out was ordinary enough, and even interspersed with more of that off-rhythm laughter, the circumstances were starting to creep me out, and I may even have had thoughts of “Bodysnatchers” once or twice.
Aside from the strange talking and the sizzling sound, I now had to figure out why it looked from where I was at like my dad and his visitors were doing something that to all intents and purposes looked like they were “eating in reverse”. You see, they kept bringing their hands up to their mouths, then making throwing motions toward the fire after sometimes fumbling around in the air in front of themselves as though they were trying to catch a hummingbird or something. I told you it was weird. Whatever they were doing, they weren’t getting close enough to the fire to be taking anything out of a pot or anything, just throwing something in that general direction. Well, I could actually draw this out for you even more, because being as young as I was, I was feeling pretty nervous by this point, but shortly after this, just as I was about to decide to head back to the tipi, and wait out the night with my own private little fire (and my .22 caliber rifle for protection), I made out a piece of my father’s conversation wondering where I had gotten to, and that was enough to make me change my mind and take the last couple of steps that brought me into everyone’s line of sight. As they all tried to welcome me, and encourage me to take a seat before I truly froze solid, I suddenly put all the different little things together, and figured out just what the heck I had been witnessing. An incredible event for sure, but in the end nothing to be afraid of. Just the simple answer to that age-old question, “Is it really as cold in Northern Manitoba as they say it is?”
Well, if I didn’t know the answer to that before that night, I knew it then. How cold was it, you ask. That night, the night I will never forget, it was so cold on my father’s trap-line, that he and I, and Ben and Rick, sitting around that fire, watched each other in utter amazement as every time any of us tried to say something to anyone else, “Our words came out in chunks of ice, and we had to fry them to hear what we were saying!”
Well, everybody get out your red pencils and grab the biggest calendar in your house, because thanks to everyone’s favorite Mama over at “A Mama’s View” , I’ve decided to crawl out of my shell for the next three days and participate in something called “The Quote Challenge”. Now I know that this is basically an award-free Blog (I received a few rewards before going award-free), but this is not really an award, but rather, a challenge, and hey, who am I to turn down a good challenge. So thanking Mama once again, let’s get on with this.
The rules to this challenge are just about as simple as they can get, so for all concerned, here they are:
- Post one of your favorite quotes (different quote on each day) on three consecutive days. The quote can be from your favorite book, author, or your own
- Challenge three other Bloggers (each day) and notify them.
- Thank the Blogger who challenged you (because we should always thank those who bring challenges into our lives…I think).
Now it does say in the rules that I can use one of my own quotes, so I don’t think anyone will have a problem with me using what has always been my favorite quote of my Father’s. Whether or not he was actual author of it, I can’t say for sure, but being the amazing story-teller that he was, I’m going to give him the credit for it anyway. You see, my dad had a real problem with people who rushed through a job, ending up with haphazard results, who would then say, “I know, I was in a hurry, I’ll do it right later on.” My dad’s reply to those people was always the same, he would look them right in the eye, and ask,
“If you don’t have time to do it right, when you going to have the time to do it again?”
Anyway, I’ve always loved that line. And now, for my challenges:
- Akansha, at “Brooding In The Tepid Dusk“, a young lady who not only writes very well, but who truly considers that which she writes.
- This friend, known as, “The Winged Woman” is not just a good friend, but has a way of being there whenever she is needed, yet long before I call. And…
- Patty at “Petite Magique“, another lovely lady never at a loss for wonderful words of expression.
So trust me, if you are into some great reading, give these three sites a look, and me, well I’ll see you next time. Right now, I’ve got to let some people know that they’ve been challenged.
A dear friend of mine, Leon, over at “Solitary Thinkers“, asked me to join him in a challenge he accepted a while back, and though I usually turn down nominations for awards (my attendance at this blog is pretty sporadic these days as I’m sure many of you have noticed), because the subject matter of the challenge was one that I feel strongly should always be given as much of our energy as we can afford, I decided to join him in this particular endeavor.
The main idea actually intrigued me because it gives the person who attempts the challenge not only something a little more difficult to do than simply name ten other names, but also a great reason to spend a little time thinking about the most powerful and beautiful force in the entire world, love. What they have to do is write ten lines about love. The catch is, each line has to have only 4 words, and the word love has to appear in each line.
The rest of the rules:
4) Title the post, Love in Ten Lines.
5) End the post with your favorite quote on love.
6) Nominate about ten others who are up for the challenge, and
7) let them know about the challenge.
So first of all, for better or worse, my poem.
For Love I called
To Love I cried
For inside of Love
Does true Love abide
Love knows no fear
Nor can Love end
For one true Love
Can Love all men
And women will Love
And Love them again.
Alright, alright, now you know why I take pictures. Lol. So, for my nominees. Just before we get into this let me say, I’ve done my best not to include any of you people who (like myself usually) don’t accept nominations, but mistakes happen. However, it doesn’t really matter because I won’t be offended by anyone who chooses not to carry on by nominating others, or even by those who choose not to participate by writing a poem. The fact is I’m just not the most popular blogger around and I simply don’t know that many other bloggers to nominate. Those I do pick, I pick because I think they deserve it, and I’ll still think they deserve it whether they participate or not. So feel free to join in or not, I’ll still love you anyway. If you ask Leon, he’ll probably tell you that that’s what this whole challenge is about anyway. And on the other hand, if I have missed anyone who would really like to try this challenge, I’m only going to nominate 8 people, so feel free to make use of one of the available slots that I failed to use. If you do make use of one of those slots, however, please follow the rest of the rules as they appear in this or one of the earlier postings related to this challenge. Whew! Now for my nominees (in no particular order of preference).
- Akansha @ “Brooding In The Tepid Dusk“
- My favorite Momma these days @ “A Momma’s View“
- Christine @ “Before Sundown“
- Everyone’s favorite doctor @ “Behind The White Coat“
- My good buddy Amanda @ “insidethelifeofmoi“
- Patty @ “Petite Magique“
- Heather @ “The Starting End“
- Takami @ “T Ibara Photo“
And finally, my favorite quote on the subject of love. It consists of only two words and some people will be upset by them, and others may not agree with their relevance to this particular topic. But it is my entry, so I get to pick, and if I put anything else here, it would be a falsehood, and that would be unfair to my friend who thought of me when very few others would have. So just before I put them down, let me thank Leon once again, and apologize now if any of my nominees are going to be bothered by my notifications when they arrive. A great big OOPS, sorry bout that. And we’ll see everybody next time.
“Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)
The Angelic Mission
Gabriel’s Task (1)
As the brilliant horizontal blue line to the rear of Gabriel’s forces snapped shut with a barely audible pop, the angels, invisible to the humans around them, took in the scene that surrounded their numbers. At first it appeared that chaos ruled, but as Gabriel took a longer look at the spectacle which lay before him, it quickly became apparent that all this movement and activity was indeed being ruled by a very firm hand; a hand that was in turn governed by a very sharp mind. Turning his attention to his own forces for a moment, Gabriel divided the angels into four or five smaller groups, and giving each group a set of specific instructions, he sent them on their way before turning his attention back to studying the larger picture that lay before him. He had a tremendous amount to consider if things were going to be successfully handled with the delicacy required.
If humans, as angels do, could see all the years of physical history spread out before them, then they might understand the concept that there are times when one single year is representative of an entire spread of years. They would see that whatever happened in that one year greatly influenced every other action that occurred in any of the other years surrounding it. The other years are still individual, and very much stand on their own at many levels, but without the events of that one “crisis” year, the periods of time flanking it on either side would lose a great deal of their meaning. 1799 A.D. was a crisis year. But this part of our story actually began in 1779.
Taught the art of war when he was 10,
He practised day and night and then,
Four hours sleep, a bite to eat,
Then Napoleon practised again.
Politically a Jacobin,
A famously-held abdomen,
He saw the rise of de Robespierre,
And for two years the Terror Reigned,
Until Robespierre, he met his fate,
Leaving Bonaparte to fight another day.
It had been in seventeen hundred and ninety-five,
The revolutionary government was under attack,
To their rescue came Napoleon, brought them out mostly alive,
They made him Commander, there was no looking back.
First Commander of the Army of Interior Forces,
And trusted advisor on matters of war,
He knew all the methods, he had all the sources,
The Army of Italy, they said it is yours.
In the face of his strategy the Austrians fell,
Expanding the French Empire, and his reputation as well,
One or two home-grown threats that he handled just fine,
But the French coffers were low, it was one, seven, nine, nine.
And up till now Bonaparte had been the premier mapmaker,
But all that would change at the city called Acre.
A port city much needed by the stretched-out French force,
And containing the second part of today’s story of course.
As the French troops land-side to the city gathered their forces once again in preparation to storm the walls, Gabriel raised a trumpet to his lips and sounded a high shrill note that only the spiritual beings could hear. Upon receiving the signal, one of the smaller groups of angels that Gabriel had made up out of the main body, positioned themselves between the city walls and the advancing French troops. Forming themselves into a single semicircular line and leaving approximately 10 feet of open space both to their left and their right, the angels began to flap their wings back and forth, first slowly, then gradually picking up more and more speed. At first just a little dust got kicked up, and then a few pebbles were being snatched up with the dust. But before long, the wind had picked up so dramatically that the soldiers couldn’t see where they were going, and the dust and the pebbles were flying so fast that they were stinging any exposed skin like thousands of tiny little bees. The troops had to keep their eyes closed for danger of going blind, and those who didn’t stop moving altogether were tripping all over each other.
While the defenders on the walls saw all the confusion in the enemy ranks, their cannon fire boomed incessantly,with the French forces further back being ripped apart, and the younger city defenders even dropping rocks on the one or two soldiers who had managed to stagger that close to the fortifications in their confusion. Finally the French completely broke ranks, and retreated helter-skelter away from the city out of range of the artillery, and the defenders who had so rapidly become the attackers. A large cheer rose up from among the city-dwellers upon the walls, and though they still had no real idea what had happened to cause the French troops to panic like that, they knew this first minor skirmish was theirs, and a good number of them were busy thanking Allah for the mighty blessing that He had bestowed upon them. When news reached Bonaparte that his forces had been repelled at the walls yet again, he was less than pleased. Too good a general to waste any time moping, however, he immediately turned his thoughts to the harbor that he knew his Navy was even now approaching.
(To be continued…)
The Angelic Mission
Initial Plans For Raphael
Having drawn much strength from the Heavenly realm,
Sitting ‘neath an Elm, Rafe laid down his helm,
His mighty sword and breastplate too.
Upon the grass so green, beneath the sky so blue.
He did not know what ailed his friend,
They had always been comrades, from the start to the end.
They had protected God’s children from the dangers they faced,
Having been granted much strength, by their Father’s great grace.
Sometimes together and sometimes alone,
Both here on the earth, and in their spiritual home,
Awaiting the call, receiving their orders,
Perhaps it was demons storming the borders,
Or maybe a Hitler, a Manson, a Ripper,
Or maybe a tanker sailed by a drunk skipper.
Perhaps a runaway child about to be harmed,
By a person pure evil with too much pure charm.
Or out in the street in sub-zero weather,
Bringing the homeless, and the social-worker together.
From in the beginning right up to the end,
Their services needed again and again,
For an angel there was no such thing as time,
They did not age, get sick, or die.
Yet in the midst of war, they still could fall,
No more to answer the battle summons,
But to live out their lives somewhat sad and sullen,
No more to fly, with withered wings,
No more to find things interesting,
Until the final day of Reckoning,
When answering the Lord’s beckoning,
Each one would be restored, and once more they would sing.
Raphael let out an involuntary sigh as he let the midday sun soak into his weary bones. Of course, he knew his bones weren’t really weary, the physical form he had assumed was in perfect shape, but mentally he was somewhat stressed out because of the situation with Michael. At least as stressed-out as an angel can be. Both Michael and Raphael were members of the original seven archangels, and as such they had been together since the beginning of time. In that malleable way that spiritual beings relate to time, Rafe and Michael had also been together right up until the end of time, so Raphael was having to exert a great deal of effort at getting his head around the fact that Michael now thought of him as an enemy.
Under that Elm, Raphael sat throughout the night, and if it was possible for anyone to see him sitting there, they would’ve thought that he was getting very little accomplished. On the contrary, however, Rafe was extremely busy. The first thing he had done was contact Uriel and confirm that the first part of his friend’s mission had in fact been accomplished. Once he was assured that that little task was out of the way, he had spent the next several hours sending a part of his consciousness here and there throughout time, to each of the battles that Michael had been involved in over the years. Due to the small part of his consciousness that he sent to attend at each of these battles, he was able to remain unnoticed as he carefully observed every tiny little move that made up Michael’s battle strategy on each of these occasions. And it was not just the physical moves that he studied. Though spiritual beings and physical beings are both in actuality just different forms of energy, spiritual beings are an energy form that is much closer to being pure. As such, with Michael being unaware of Raphael’s presence, and thus failing to set up any barriers, or obstacles to prevent intrusion, Raphael could study Michael’s psychological moves just as easily as he studied the physical moves that Michael made. In these earlier trips it was entirely Michael’s fighting style and techniques that Rafe was studying.
The last hour and a half before sunrise, Raphael continued with the out of body trips, but now the objective was slightly different. Now he was hunting. Rafe was trying to locate where Michael was right at this particular moment, trying to discover what Michael was up to and exactly what was happening with him. He was searching geographically, he was searching through time, and he was even searching through space, but all to no avail. As of yet, he could not locate him. Michael was nowhere to be found. Raphael just didn’t understand it, Michael had to be somewhere, and if he was anywhere at all, then Rafe should have been able to zero in on him without any effort at all. And for whatever reason, there was no help coming from Heaven-side. Rising to his feet, Raphael gathered his armor and his weapons, and as he slowly and methodically began dressing, he said very quietly under his breath, “Don’t worry Michael, I’ll find you, and when I do… I’m bringing you home”.
(To be continued…)
The Angelic Mission
As Uriel’s angels the demons met
Above the hills high in the air,
The Mongols in the valley green,
Carried on without a care.
The demons shrieked and swarmed the light,
Trying to shield their eyes from this holy sight.
They tore with claws and ripped with teeth,
And all the while they shrieked and screamed.
The angels stood firm within their ranks,
They took the time to give God thanks,
For the chance to serve their Heavenly King,
Then in one voice true, they began to sing.
They sang a song as old as time,
They sang a song of perfect rhyme,
And as each note the truth did tell,
Another demon warrior fell.
They fell down on the valley floor,
A wisp of smoke, they were no more.
And as they fell in numbers grand,
A cloud of smoke covered the land.
The smoke that hovered far and wide,
Could not be seen by the Mongol eyes.
Nor could they see the remaining demons
that had failed to enter into the war,
Raging high above the valley floor.
Those demons that did not join the fight,
Were faced with yet another plight,
To tempt the Mongol population,
Was the demon’s occupation.
If they were to leave them there,
And join the battle in the air,
All the progress they had made,
They’d have to make another day.
And this would not go over well,
With the one whom they did serve,
Asmodeus this demon’s name,
Excruciating pain,… this demon’s game.
“Uriel!” The one single spiritual exclamation cut through all the screaming and screeching, the assorted sounds of battle, and even silenced the singing of the angels. Though the Mongols in the valley couldn’t quite hear the sound with their human ears, each and every one of them felt a cold shiver run up their spine, and all the little hairs on the back of their necks stood straight up on edge. For just a second, they all stopped what they were doing, and then, a little uneasily, they resumed their activities.
Uriel, sensing the powerful presence even as it manifested itself somewhere to the rear of the angelic lines, slowly drew himself up to his full height. He had already recognized the voice, and as he slowly turned, giving the angels at the back the opportunity to part like the Red Sea before Moses’ staff, he answered in a voice completely controlled yet at the same time incredibly powerful, “Asmodeus, I thought my brother Raphael sentenced you to 1000 years in the pit for plaguing Tobit’s wife to be?”
“Well you know how it is,” Asmodeus snarled, “Time flies when you’re having a good time.”
Now Uriel was approaching Asmodeus slowly but deliberately where he stood at the back of the angelic lines. Glancing down at the pass that led into the valley, he saw Genghis Khan himself, and a small party of scouts and warriors as they returned to the encampment in the valley below. Apparently they had been checking out a small village that was situated at the end of the same path that they were returning on now. The village sat nestled in a rather protected little gorge, but it would certainly be no match for the Khan and his hoards. And apparently Asmodeus had been travelling with Genghis Khan and the war party, leaving the main body of the Mongol followers under the control of the lesser demons.
Having reached his objective, and now standing only about a foot or so in front of Asmodeus, Uriel fixed his gaze on his foe and said rather quietly, in a very dangerous tone, “Do not be impertinent with me, demon”.
The creature did his best to maintain his show of bravado, but try as he might he could not squelch the slightest little flinch that he knew was as plain as day to each and every one of the angels surrounding him. The shame and embarrassment he felt at his own fear didn’t do anything for his personality as he said to Uriel, “So what is it you want angel, the time has not come for the Reckoning, and you are in my territory, interfering with my plans!?”
“There is a village at the end of that path down there; I believe you just came back from that village. Well if that village, or any of the people in it are any part of your plan, then I guess you’re going to need a new plan, because that village and everyone in it are under my Father’s protection.”
“Why”, Asmodeus asked,” what is so special about that village? Who is it in that village that you’re trying to protect?”
Uriel answered him, “That is none of your affair demon, just know, if any harm comes to anyone in that village at all, then the next time we meet it won’t be with singing, but with swords drawn and your day of reckoning will indeed have arrived.”
“But I can’t always control him,” Asmodeus said in a voice that had just a little more whine in it than he would have liked to admit, “this human is a strong one, and sometimes he does what he wants to do whether it’s what I want him to do or not.”
“Then for your sake Asmodeus, you better hope that this is one of those times that you can control him. This is not open for negotiation, no one gets hurt and nothing happens to the village. So maybe you better get down there and start doing whatever it is you do.”
Now in the village at the end of the path,
The people rest beneath the setting sun,
They may never know that they’ve been spared,
And not just they, but especially one.
Her life is hers, to live then begin,
Children’s children several times again,
Until at last the one is born,
Who all her people have been born for.
By assuring that this one will live,
When Michael meets his brother Rafe,
In ways that only God can know,
Saving this village, will keep Rafe safe.
(to be continued…)