|The "orange grove" outside my studio|
The cold lingered on for two days as they all huddled inside for warmth. A clear sky and brilliant sun greeted the third morning, and the temperature rose rapidly to sevety-five degrees.
Tobias and Zech went to the grove and found the trees not green but brown, each already surrounded by piles of fallen dead leaves. Tobias cut into the trunk of one and said, "It ain't dead all the way. They just might make it if it stays warm like this. I just thank the Lord we didn't get no rain and ice with all that cold."
"They'll make it, Pappa. We may never have another cold snap that bad. What I need to do now is replant the garden. There's not a single thing left in there alive, and I sure don't want to go back to eating wild poke two meals a day."
"Poke ain't so bad. We lived off it for years when we had to."
"I know, Pappa. But tomatoes and beans and collards is better. Soon as we get back to the house I'll put out the seeds."
A month later Tobias came running through the woods, souting as loud as he could. "They done it! They done it!"
Everyone poured out of the cabins and house, and Zech scrambled from the barn and raced to meet his father as he came into the clearing. He said, "What in the world is all the shouting for, Pappa?"
"The orange trees," Tobias panted, "they're puttin' out sap and new growth! They're goin' to bloom, Zech! They done made it!"
"That's great Pappa! Just great. I knew they'd come through."
"I sure thought for a while it was all gone, but the Lord's done smiled down on us. I got to go now and tell Emma."
Zech stood by Glenda and put his arm around her as they watched the frail body lumber across the clearing towards the small plot of ground bearing the grave.
- Patrick D. Smith : A Land Remembered
After returning home from my honeymoon with my wife, we were greeted with this relatively cold (at least by a Floridian's standards) and bitter Savannah weather, a mix of heavy rain and chilling air that penetrates even the thickest of winter wear. Still, it's nothing compared to the "big chill" Florida experienced back in 1894, when weather was so icy and erratic that many farmers packed up and left without even cleaning their dirty dishes.
Yet, Tobias and the MacIvey clan pushed through, despite all odds, determined to make the best of a miserable situation, which soon after got decisively worse (but you'll need to read A Land Remembered to learn more about that). Still, we can all stand to learn a thing or two from Tobias's gumption, that even in the bleakest and coldest of times, relying on your family and yourself is what will see you through.
So during this holiday, be sure to gather your family close and share in the comfort of your well insulated homes, with your central Air and Heat, and remember that those of simpler times did much the same with much less, and went on to do extraordinary things.
Stay tuned, more great stuff coming soon, including CHARACTER DESIGNS! Look for that and more very soon...