... Of Surviving the Wilderness
A child equates love with security. Two everyday occurrences used to bring me great comfort. The first was the ritual lighting of the gas lantern. It hung over the dining room table. It was my granddad's job to light the lamp but never until my grandmother had decided it was dark enough. She used to call him "dad", I guess it was a carry over from the time her children were little. "Dad," she would say, "I think its time" and he would dutifully respond by reaching for the lamp and begin the process of priming it and lighting the mantles. Then he would rehang the lamp in the window to welcome anyone passing by.
Yes, life was simple for me back then. It was simple, and secure, and superb in every aspect. And that style of life beckons me still.
I, too, had my nightly ritual. My grandmother had a coat made from a black bear and it hung on a pedestal in the corner. After my grandmother had left and taken the coal oil lantern with her, I was always sure that that coat came to life. So, I'd turn my flashlight on a couple of time without warning to catch it sneaking across the floor. And finally, satisfied that it was, indeed, just a coat for one more night, I'd snuggle down and bid the world goodnight.
Unbelievably, the second activity that brought about the feeling of security was bedtime. This was particularly true on wash day for that was also bath night. The round galvanized tub would be placed in the kitchen beside the wood stove so that we wouldn't get cold. Water would be heated on the stove and mixed with too little snow or rain water so that we came out a bright shade of pink. We were then dressed in flannelette pajamas and tucked into sheets fresh from the line. I'd snuggle under my quilt of many colours and listen with pleasure as the wind blew the trees outside my window.