Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

Daughter of Ishmael

by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Getting There

My Mom was the only girl in a family of nine children.
She and/or her brothers had many adventures . . .

Getting home from school in the late 1930s usually meant a ride on Shanks Pony. (Walking.)
For three of my mom’s four younger brothers, Roy – 11, Sten - 9 and Eric - 6, it was usually accomplished by following the railroad tracks.
One hot spring afternoon, they decided to mix things up a bit.
They followed the road.
Okay, yes, it was about a mile further to the home farm, but they could at least see a slightly different view of the countryside.
Carrying their syrup pail lunch kits, they started out.
Just as they passed one of the neighbour’s farms, they noticed an animal coming toward them on the road.
A familiar animal.
It was their family’s large, horned Hereford bull.
Obviously, the warm spring day had enticed him out of winter retirement and he was ready to scout the surrounding area for possible matrimonial prospects.
Knowing that the neighbours would be less-than-pleased if some strange bull began making advances on their cow herds, the three small boys decided to turn the huge animal and head him back toward home.
For a few minutes, all was well. The bull was happy walking in whatever direction his humans pushed him and the boys were happy to keep him going.
Then the eldest, Roy grew tired of the slow pace and decided to be a little more proactive.
First, Roy’s idea was to get the bull to carry their lunch pails. This presented a problem because none of them possessed a handy bit of string or cord to tie said pails to the great animal’s horns.
Hmmm . . .
Wait. They had a 6-year-old brother who would be happy to perch up on that broad back.
And he could hold the pails.
No sooner conceived than done.
Eric, whose short legs stuck out like airplane wings, found himself astride the huge animal and holding three clumsy lunch pails.
The gentle bull, accustomed to kids, appeared not to notice.
The little parade continued down the road.
Then Eric shifted, trying to get balanced.
And the pails . . . rattled.
The bull’s ears swiveled backwards and the great head lifted as the bull paused.
Then, one of the older boys slapped him and he gave a tiny spring as he once more started forward.
More rattling as Eric struggled to keep himself and his pails together.
Another hop. And an increase in speed.
More rattling.
More speed. By this time, the bull had reached a lumbering gallop.
I should mention, here, that Bergs don’t give up easily, even when they’re six. Eric unloaded pail after pail in an effort to stay on.
Finally, with only one pail left, the noise had stopped.
But the damage was done.
That bull wanted to get out of this situation. As quickly as possible.
This time, in an effort to keep his balance, Eric accidentally swung the last pail against the bull’s side.
That was it.
The bull erupted, danced along the road for a few paces and finally hit the ditch.
Where the two parted company.
As soon as his burden disappeared, the bull, once more slowed to an amble.
The two older boys collected their lunch pails and their shaken but unhurt younger brother and started walking once more.
Sigh.
Sometimes slow and steady doesn’t win any races.
Sometimes it simply gets everyone home in one piece.


14 comments:

  1. I love a window into your mom's world. It's not something that I know firsthand, and you always make me feel like I'm there with you...and your mom and uncles. And, wow, only girl! Just wow!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so happy to be able to show you that window! Mom was pretty amazing!

      Delete
  2. For a second there I thought the boys would hang a lunch pail off each horn and the bull would run off with them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, I have to admit that that was my first thought as well! Maybe they didn't have handles?!

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. It just seems more . . . relaxed, somehow. Now they would be whisked off after school to sports or swimming. No peaceful days for our kids . . .

      Delete
  4. Kids are too supervised these days to have any kind of memorable adventures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such a pity! Creativity and imagination are on the slide . . .

      Delete
  5. "...Bergs don’t give up easily, even when they’re six."

    You know how when you're reading and you start to smile, then a bigger smile, then the laugh just bursts out when one more drop overfloweth the cup??? That was the drop for me :) You know how to tell a story, Diane :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! You've made my day!

      Delete
  6. Oh my gosh; I was a little tense on this one. I do know about bulls so I think these three boys were very lucky to be home in one piece. I always enjoy your writings they usually make me smile..........Blessings!

    ReplyDelete

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