Tag Archives: Winter

The Little Match Girl

by Hans Christian Anderson; published in 1845

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Most terribly cold it was; it snowed, and was nearly quite dark, and evening– the last evening of the year. In this cold and darkness there went along the street a poor little girl, bareheaded, and with naked feet. When she left home she had slippers on, it is true; but what was the good of that? They were very large slippers, which her mother had hitherto worn; so large were they; and the poor little thing lost them as she scuffled away across the street, because of two carriages that rolled by dreadfully fast.

One slipper was nowhere to be found; the other had been laid hold of by an urchin, and off he ran with it; he thought it would do capitally for a cradle when he some day or other should have children himself. So the little maiden walked on with her tiny naked feet, that were quite red and blue from cold. She carried a quantity of matches in an old apron, and she held a bundle of them in her hand. Nobody had bought anything of her the whole livelong day; no one had given her a single farthing.

She crept along trembling with cold and hunger–a very picture of sorrow, the poor little thing!

The flakes of snow covered her long fair hair, which fell in beautiful curls around her neck; but of that, of course, she never once now thought. From all the windows the candles were gleaming, and it smelt so deliciously of roast goose, for you know it was New Year’s Eve; yes, of that she thought.

In a corner formed by two houses, of which one advanced more than the other, she seated herself down and cowered together. Her little feet she had drawn close up to her, but she grew colder and colder, and to go home she did not venture, for she had not sold any matches and could not bring a farthing of money: from her father she would certainly get blows, and at home it was cold too, for above her she had only the roof, through which the wind whistled, even though the largest cracks were stopped up with straw and rags.

Her little hands were almost numbed with cold. Oh! a match might afford her a world of comfort, if she only dared take a single one out of the bundle, draw it against the wall, and warm her fingers by it. She drew one out. “Rischt!” how it blazed, how it burnt! It was a warm, bright flame, like a candle, as she held her hands over it: it was a wonderful light. It seemed really to the little maiden as though she were sitting before a large iron stove, with burnished brass feet and a brass ornament at top. The fire burned with such blessed influence; it warmed so delightfully. The little girl had already stretched out her feet to warm them too; but–the small flame went out, the stove vanished: she had only the remains of the burnt-out match in her hand.

She rubbed another against the wall: it burned brightly, and where the light fell on the wall, there the wall became transparent like a veil, so that she could see into the room. On the table was spread a snow-white tablecloth; upon it was a splendid porcelain service, and the roast goose was steaming famously with its stuffing of apple and dried plums. And what was still more capital to behold was, the goose hopped down from the dish, reeled about on the floor with knife and fork in its breast, till it came up to the poor little girl; when–the match went out and nothing but the thick, cold, damp wall was left behind. She lighted another match. Now there she was sitting under the most magnificent Christmas tree: it was still larger, and more decorated than the one which she had seen through the glass door in the rich merchant’s house.

Thousands of lights were burning on the green branches, and gaily-colored pictures, such as she had seen in the shop-windows, looked down upon her. The little maiden stretched out her hands towards them when–the match went out. The lights of the Christmas tree rose higher and higher, she saw them now as stars in heaven; one fell down and formed a long trail of fire.

“Someone is just dead!” said the little girl; for her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now no more, had told her, that when a star falls, a soul ascends to God.

She drew another match against the wall: it was again light, and in the lustre there stood the old grandmother, so bright and radiant, so mild, and with such an expression of love.

“Grandmother!” cried the little one. “Oh, take me with you! You go away when the match burns out; you vanish like the warm stove, like the delicious roast goose, and like the magnificent Christmas tree!” And she rubbed the whole bundle of matches quickly against the wall, for she wanted to be quite sure of keeping her grandmother near her. And the matches gave such a brilliant light that it was brighter than at noon-day: never formerly had the grandmother been so beautiful and so tall. She took the little maiden, on her arm, and both flew in brightness and in joy so high, so very high, and then above was neither cold, nor hunger, nor anxiety–they were with God.

But in the corner, at the cold hour of dawn, sat the poor girl, with rosy cheeks and with a smiling mouth, leaning against the wall–frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. Stiff and stark sat the child there with her matches, of which one bundle had been burnt. “She wanted to warm herself,” people said. No one had the slightest suspicion of what beautiful things she had seen; no one even dreamed of the splendor in which, with her grandmother she had entered on the joys of a new year.

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Of Creatures and Trees

tree-779827_960_720Here’s another excerpt from my yet to be released book:

“In my early teenage years I loved to walk alone in the wooded areas near my home. In my meanderings, I was struck by the timeless nature of the forest. Time didn’t seem to matter to the trees. They could be found, day or night, year after year, right where I first spotted them. These tall and stately giants adorned themselves with colorful leaves in autumn, as if readying themselves for a grand ball. I sat for hours watching as the arbors gracefully danced in October breezes. When I returned to the woods in November with my rifle in hand, I looked on as cold windy gusts stripped the trees naked.

It impressed me that the grand order of things did not lessen the generosity of the trees. They labored through the seasons to produce a bounty of fruits, nuts and seeds, not for their own consumption, but as gifts for the passerby.

From my perch in a rotting tree fort, I watched creatures, large and small, carrying out their agendas. In stark contrast to the trees, time for them was of the essence. They spent the precious little time they did have attending to personal needs. These included hoarding and gorging themselves on whatever was available. Animals, it seemed, lived a life of extremes, one of excess and depravity.”

 

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A season of winter

JuniorshopeI am getting ready to rerelease my book, Junior’s Hope, in the next couple of weeks.  This was my first attempt at writing a book, originally published in 2006 (see picture on left of original cover).

The book is a father/son love story that focuses on faith, family and and overcoming adversity.  I updated the book with some minor edits and added another chapter, kind of a ten year anniversary thing.

My story “fish” that I have been blogging about recently runs parallel to the book’s story line (offers additional insight into material covered in the book).

There is one chapter in Junior’s Hope called “A Season of Winter” that I intended to be a poetic reprise in the middle of the story, much like a bridge does in a song.  I edited the chapter for this post so as not to spoil the story.  I hope you enjoy my attempt at writing prose.

… I have visited this place often. On most occasions I come here with no particular need or agenda—just to reflect or rest my weary mind. There is an unexplainable peace found here. Sometimes, without expecting it, I carry away a gem of wisdom that helps sustain me on my journey.

In this place a maple tree stands alone towering over the landscape. Only God knows how long it has been here. Its grayish brown trunk rises from the earth, carrying its physical presence high into the air. There are scars and imperfections evident on the surface of the tree’s bark where wounds, endured over time, have healed as it aged. An untold number of subdividing branches emanate from the trunk, rising ever higher, stretching outward as they ascend. The tips of the branches sway in rhythm prodded by a gentle breeze—like boney fingers scraping the sky. On this day there is not a single leaf present to offer me shade from the sun.

What a brilliant sunny day it is too! The fiery yellow ball hangs in the heavens with grandeur. The sun’s brightness is so intense that I have to squint to survey my surroundings. The few wisps of clouds present are unable to conceal its beauty nor soften the rich blue color of the sky cradling it. Yet, the sun offers me no warmth.

The breeze continues to blow as if driven by its own selfish will. I feel my hair flip and flutter as it blows. Small objects near me make rustling noises as they dance and tumble across the ground caught up in the wind’s folly. Today however, the breeze brings no relief. In fact, my cheeks grow cold and red as I sit exposed to it. This is winter—plain and simple—a long, cold, and emotionally draining season…

…As I tarry, chills race up my back, morphing into shivers that rumble through my torso and spread outward to my arms and legs. My fingers and toes tingle in the cold. Shoring up the collar of my coat around my exposed neck, I draw in a long deliberate breath, inviting the cold air into my body and allowing it to sting my lungs. The frigid air feels so fresh and pure as it is drawn in—so brutally honest. When I exhale, a cloudy mist trails from my lips, dissipating as it rises skyward.

My joints stiffen in the cold and beg me to start moving again so that my body can produce some heat. Around me there are no distractions save the scolding of a squirrel whose buried food supply is no doubt being threatened by my presence. Closing my eyes I push back my preoccupation with the cold…

…Winter—I wonder why God allows it to exist at all. Its ferocity, spread over such a long period strips away comforts, lays waste to strongholds and distractions that preoccupy our time

…In nature the familiar truths we rely on and take for granted are undone by winter. Trees like this one cannot offer shade without its leaves. The sun struggles to heat the cold air. Frozen streams separate us from the thirst-quenching water we long for. Breezes, refreshing on warm days, are measured by their wind-chill factor in winter. Even the roads, lawns and gardens we toil to create are ransacked by storms wrought from winter’s fury.

Winter disrupts our life and can easily bring despair but from its depths a universal certainty arises. Spring will come again. All of nature bears witness to this certainty of renewal. I know that if I cleared away the snow and dug deep enough into the frozen earth I would see that roots and bulbs have already begun generating new life. I know that streams, froBookCoverImagezen on the surface, are teaming with life underneath. I also know that if I looked closely at the trees I would see evidence of buds that will someday mature into leaves. Yes, the sun will rise tomorrow offering a few more minutes of daylight to warm the hearts of men. Even the breezes that bite and freeze today will usher in new warmth at the appointed time.  In
all these certainties hope is found.  They point to the unalterable faithfulness of our Lord, its Creator…

   (Proposed new cover of Junior’s Hope)