Rescue Flame on the Mountain
‘Are you up for it?’ asked the sign she had seen in the bakery shop. She realized that the question was referring her to the streusel pastry in the glass display case. But her mind was wandering elsewhere to other challenges which haunted her.
Nevertheless, she could not keep her mouth from watering as she peered into the glass display at the goodies expertly placed to lure her.
With her precious box of yummy streusel for her breakfast in the morning, safely wrapped and still a little warm from the oven, she bids the baker ‘good afternoon’ and takes the shortcut in her Volkswagen to her rustic home on the outskirts of the village, tucked into the mountainous countryside.
Once there, she quickly puts her purchases away to save time so as to not miss the perfect light remaining up in the turret atop her cozy cabin. She hurriedly ascends to its circumferential windows view for a late afternoon surveillance of the countryside.
It is a favorite respite which often inspires her to write or sketch. This evening, though, she’s simply nostalgic, ruminating on the precious history surrounding her.
♥ ~ ♥
As is her custom, she pulls over the rolling stool and seats herself on it, an advantageous post from which she can move from view to view around the windows as she gazes out and soaks up familiar, beloved scenery.
She sighs, viewing the now-empty old barn and silo nearby from out the southern turret windows. The silent surviving trace remnants of the past are still standing, but the barn's metal roof is rusty and pieces are loose or missing. The silo tilts slightly. Weeds grow up around the once-busy artifacts and a nearby fence sags.
She envisions her father working the adjoining fields, then coming in for lunch or dinner when the big brass bell summoned him.
Her dad was always ready with either an amusing or a serious story. She’d sit enrapt listening to his sonorous voice recreating tales of earlier times. Recalling it all now is like a warm crackling flame.
Now she ponders about how many crops of feed for the sheep and goats have been harvested and stored there in that self-same barn and silo. Many. Many years' worth. Many trips up and down the rows with the tractor and harvester. Again, she sighs. How she loved the aroma of freshly cut alfalfa!
Sometimes, Dad would take her for a train ride in the quaint train which was used for happy joy rides between her village and the neighboring village when she was a child. But now the train is a defunct historic novelty, the barn and silo are useless, and the fields are silent and resting. Her father has gone on ahead to join his ancestors, except in her frequent reminisces.
She loves her cabin, many miles from the snow-topped mountains off in the chilly distance, mountains covered with blankets of snow, which her ancestors had mastered, and which she sees now in their majesty from the northeast turret windows. It is an ideal viewpoint, near enough to feel the mountains' massive power but distant enough to be spared their massive power. Still, she shivers a bit, thinking about it.
Her family’s ancestral surname means “Keeper of the Flame”. Over the generations it was their calling to keep the beckoning flame burning up there in the snowy heights and recesses, where they camped and posted themselves, ever-ready with their rescue dogs, which were outfitted with reviving casks of brandy and emergency first aid, capable of helping lost mountain climbers and eager to transport them from desperate conditions to the warming flame and then, finally, down to safety. Those fortunate climbers would be revived by the brandy, warmth and tender care and probably eager to try to conquer the mountain again.
Many were rescued and some did try it again successfully. Happily, these days mountain climbing has become a more technical, safer sport, though its challenge still resides in its deep inherent danger.
But, sadly, too many have perished and still perish in the freezing snow, too far from the flame, their voices drowned in the sounds of fierce winds and horizontally blowing snow. Some succumb and perish in avalanches. Some fall into crevices. Some are weakened and buried in the snow.
Stark tombstones bear testament at the bottom of the mountain, . . . . . . . . . . . . tragic reminder and vital caution.
She remembers those stories, told with poignant nostalgia by her forebears and passed down by each generation.
♥ ~ ♥
But soon on this idyllic evening, she stirs from her pleasant reverie, becoming aware of thirst and need of warmth herself. Descending the narrow stairway, she enters the lovely glow of her crackling fireplace in the den, as her chill and sense of past times quickly dissipate. Awaiting her with wagging tail and juicy tongue, is Bernie, her pet St. Bernard.
When she has fed and watered Bernie, has poured herself a glass of sweet sherry and started some music playing, she settles into the cushiony chair in front of the fireplace, as Bernie cuddles up against her, with mutual love flowing between them.
Soon a velvety night falls and before long, sweet sleep also descends. The heavens proclaim the majesty of their glory overhead, both over the mountains and over her cabin where she and Bernie drift off to sleep, dreaming of luscious streusel in the morning.
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© 2016 Nellieanna Hay