Friday, December 23, 2011

The Best Christmas Gift in the Old House on the Farm

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Today’s Blog Post

The Best Christmas Gift in the Old House on the Farm

The house was crowded with all of us flooding into Grandpa and Grandma’s place in that Old House on the Farm at Christmas time. I was 10 years old. At times it was too much and too many people. It was good to get away from it all. But in a small house it was hard to do that.

My favorite room was what everyone called the West Room. Situated on the West end of the house it held the two couches and a chair which were around the edge of the room. Eventually at the southwest corner of the room the television would be perched for all to see. However when this best Christmas Gift happened to me, TV was at least two years away before it would come to the Farm.

The large oil “Space Heater” was located just to left as you entered the room… that would be on the east wall of the West Room. With the only other main heat being produces by the Kitchen stove, two rooms away, the Space Heater was needed in that West Room.

Sitting on the large couch near the Space Heater was an enchanted place. The sound of the endless winter west wind howling against the old window was mixed with the pop and hiss of the Space Heater. When it went on and off with its flame inside, the metal around the Space Heater expanded and contracted to give off the noses.

Now before you entered the West Room there was the Middle Room that housed Grandma’s sewing machine, the Wall Crank Telephone, and the trap door that let you to descend to the Root Cellar below. There was also door that led to the lean-to where the Cream Separator was housed along the stuff like old clothes and parkas for the out of doors. Grandma made the guys take off their “Barn Clothes” here because of the stink. Some people called it the Mud Room.

The one special thing about the Middle Room was the long storage shelves that had the long doors covering them. In that storage area one place held all the Popular Mechanics and Mechanics illustrated magazines. They were stacked high and available to the grandkids.

I was digging through that area this particular Christmas time, looking for a possible new magazine. Instead of a PM or MI magazine I found a larger magazine that was a mixture of photos and stories. I wish that knew which magazine it was – after all these years.

As I flipped through it one picture caught my attention. There was a huge dragon with its mouth open and below its head was a pile of Gold Treasures. It was a Pirate’s stash for sure. The sub title said something about “my hair turned white overnight….”

I began to read the story slowly and then it had me. I was into it.

I walked into the West Room and found the couch behind the Space Heater, curled up and began to read the amazing story. The hero adventurer was looking for shelter from a huge storm. He rowed his small boat along the ragged cliffs until he found what seemed to be a cleft in the rock face. As he approached the area he realized that the cleft was actually an entrance to a cave. The tide was low and the opening was easy to go through… so he did.

I followed him in the boat, under the dripping rocks, turning this way and that way… with just a little light showing over our shoulders. The hero took out his lantern and lit the wick. I could smell the smoke of the burning wick as the smoke curled up to the cliff ceiling.

The story was masterfully written to say the least. And I followed every word at my own speed. It was so real… and all that the hero did came alive for me.

As his lantern’s light shone from the boat the hero could see the flash of the jewels in the one crown and then another. The Gold chains and goblets glistened in the beam from the lantern. The Treasure was so much and so brilliant that it took my breath away! There was a pile of it!

The hero climbed from his small row boat up the slope to the Gold. Amazing – simply amazing! How could he ever take anything back with him? His boat was far too small. Worse yet the tide that had been out was now coming back in and the cave entrance would be secluded again from view on the outside and inside.

It was at that moment that the hero was considering what he should do next that he heard a noise off to his left… somewhere behind the Gold Treasure… a gold cup or something moved slightly giving a rattling noise. Then another thing moved. The heroes’ footsteps and his disturbing the pile of Golden pieces had caused something to wake up.

The huge dragon’s head appeared from behind the pile and a curious eye looked at the hero. Realizing he was not alone, seeing the man, the dragon came closer and became bigger and bigger. It had found a place to hide away and also to protect the treasure… now someone had come into its lair.

The story continued with the Dragon flashing out at the hero. The hero running and hiding – here and there. At the last moment the hero made a dash to his boat and rowed frantically to the now very small opening of the cave’s entrance. The boat scrapped against the top of the entrance as the waves and water pushed into the cave. And suddenly he was clear to the outside world again. The storm raged and the light was growing dim. His lantern was inside the cave.. but he was safe. The dragon was still inside protecting its treasure from any intruder that might come again.

The hero was taken in by a stranger he met and given a warm bed much later that night. In the morning when he woke he washed his face. It was at that moment that he was shocked and couldn’t speak… his hair had turned perfectly white.

As my eyes followed each word and then came to that last part… the story ended. Nothing more. The hero was safe and his hair was now white. What next? I want more!

I looked up at the window pane that was frosted over on that west wall. I heard nothing but the wind outside and the Space Heater inside. It was still as could be in that room. But just minutes before I was terrified and could feel the water dripping in the cave, see the Gold glistening and here the dragon coming.. I felt the panic as we headed to the cave entrance. WOW! The prairie wind kept blowing forever.

This was the very first story that I read from an adult magazine. It was the first adventure that I took outside of the flat prairie and to another world.

I became a reader of anything after that wonderful experience in the West room.

For 57 years I have wondered about caves with treasures. I have thought about dragons and heroes… and row boats… and adventure. In fact it was at that moment that my imagination was set afire and stirred so deeply that I couldn’t speak for a long while. No one would understand the trip that I had taken that day so long ago.

This week I am finishing the reading a Dan Brown book. I have a Ken Follett book ready to go after that. This will be my 57th Christmas with a good story… and I love it!

~ Murray Lincoln ~

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