Would that we had the fortunes of Columbus,
Sailing his caravels a trackless way,
He found a Universe—he sought Cathay.
God give us such dawns, as when, his venture o’er,
The Sailor looked upon San Salvador.
God lead us past the setting of the sun,
To wizard islands, of august surprise;
God make our blunders wise.
By Vachel Lindsay
Columbus thought that he had reached India (which is why he called the natives there Indians) but instead he found the American continent. He was not the first to reach the Americas, as Leif Erickson preceded him by 500 years, and there were probably others. Although he didn’t find the expected destination, he discovered something more valuable. He initiated widespread contact between Europeans and Native Americans.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all our mishaps and blunders would turn out to be blessings? We don’t view them in that light when it first happens, but are usually embarrassed and humiliated. Sometimes we have trials and burdens that almost overwhelm us, and we wonder why these things happen to us.
There is a song, “God Can Make this Trial a Blessing,” and I have found this is true. There have been happenings in my life that I wondered how in the world this could ever be a benefit to anyone. After the trial was over, I could look back and see how God had made it a blessing.
We would never know the tender compassion of Christ if we never had to carry a burden. It is true that He is the Lily of the Valley, for when we are down low, His fragrance surrounds us. When we are grieved, we can experience His great love—but never the depth of it. After the bitterest of trials, we can say, “It was worth it to experience the closeness of such a Savior.”
Life is unpredictable, and we never know what tomorrow will bring. There is a quote by Faber that I like, “Life is always flowing on like a river, sometimes with murmurs, sometimes without bending this way and that, we do not exactly see why; now in beautiful picturesque places, now through barren and uninteresting scenes, but always flowing with a look of treachery about it; it is so swift, so voiceless, yet so continuous.”
Life flows on here in the hills, amid the sheer beauty of October. Although the world may be in turmoil, with horrendous happenings on every hand, we find comfort in the hills. The river of life flows on serenely at this time, here among our grandchildren and farm animals. There is a sense of peace in watching the little ones.
Criss’ bantam chickens have multiplied into a large flock of tiny feathered fowl. It seems that the little hens have nothing but “setting” on their minds, and have provided us with swarms of baby banties. It is really too late in the season for hatching doodies. One motherly hen sneaked and “stole her nest out” unbeknownst to us. Criss found her under the dog house, with 18 eggs under her.
She hatched out 16 wee fluffy chicks, and left the nest. One egg was rotten, and the other one was pipped. It was chilled though, and too weak to make it on his own. Criss brought him to the house and we put a light bulb over a box, and cradled him in a soft cloth. With just a little help, he soon kicked his way out of the egg shell.
There he huddled, a wet lump of black feathers. We thought sure he wouldn’t survive, but the next morning he was dry and fluffy and on his feet. I fed and mothered him, and soon he recognized the sound of my voice. His plaintive chirp would change to a soft “peep-peep” when I talked to him. Minnie, our Jack Russell terrier, tries to mother the baby chickens. She wants to lick them.
Someone asked Criss if he wasn’t afraid she’d kill them, and he replied, “Not unless she licks them to death!” When the chick would cheep, she would station herself under his box and wait patiently for someone to come to his rescue.
I took him (I say that loosely, as the gender of a baby chicken is a mystery to me.) I took him to the chicken lot to give him back to his mother. Minnie trotted faithfully beside me. We located the mother with her swarm of babies. When she spied Minnie, with a screech and a flurry of beak and feathers, she pounced on the innocent little dog. She ran her back across the road and into the yard, and then returned, still squawking indignantly.
She started calling her brood, and I set the little one down so he could follow his mother. They all scurried after her, except mine, and he ran back to me, peeping piteously. Of course he thought I was his mother.
Criss waited until dark, then put him under his mother. I checked on him this evening, and he was fine. Minnie wouldn’t cross the road.
Whether you are watching a mother hen protecting her babies, a few cows grazing on the hillside, or a flock of ducks dipping and swimming on a pond, there is a certain peace that fills the heart.
Walter (Jack) Durbin of St. Albans sent me the words to a song that has been running through my mind. I used to hear my Great Uncle Homer’s girls sing this. They were known as the Mullins Sisters, and sang on the radio when I was a young girl.
DID YOU EVER GO SAILIN’?
There’s an old ramshackle shack,
Where in dreams I wander back
And listen to my fondest memories,
It’s the place where I was born,
It was on a Sunday morn,
And it’s nestled at the end of my river of memories.
Did you ever go sailin’
On the river of memories,
To a little log cabin
That’s nestled among the sycamore trees.
Where the sunshine is cheery,
And nothing in the world grows dreary.
That’s my cabin at the end of my river of memories.
When the twilight shadows fall,
Many childhood voices call,
Calling back again the days that used to be,
And in answer to their prayer,
I will soon be sailin’ there,
To the cabin at the end of my river of memories.