**This Memory is dedicated to my sister, Casey...good times...**
In a land far, far away ( read: about 10 miles outside of Twin Falls) there was a little farm with a humble, little
Being that it was summer, the kids were out of school and faced with the challenge of finding ways to fill their hours. Many days were spent outside in countless adventures and imaginary journeys.
Today was different, however, for the two girls in the family could not come up with any adventures and could not imagine any journeys. They both sat slumped, one leg flung over the arm of the couch. Frizzy hair, mismatched outfits, lopsided frowns. To say they were bored was an understatement.
The mom, tired of the whining coming from the two girls, shooed them out of the living room. So, the frizzy, yellow-haired older sister and her slinky, red-headed younger sister shuffled to the front door. To get to the door they had to pass by the wood burning stove. Upon the wood burning stove sat a box of matches that the eldest of the sisters covertly pocketed before closing the front door behind her.
Outside the summer sun would have been all too much to handle if the strong breeze they felt whip up their hair around their freckled faces had not been present. They wandered and roamed around the farm. They visited the pigs that the red-head kept for 4-H and found that pigs are utterly uninteresting in the heat of the day as well. Straddling the top fence post of the corral, the sisters swung their legs back and forth as they randomly rambled about random ramblings. The tall, dry grasses and weeds were on one side of the fence, the smelly, grunting pigs on the other.
Then the yellow-haired girl sat up straight and smirked as she remembered what was in her pocket. She had remembered watching her older, obviously smarter brother lighting matches the other day, throwing them to the ground, and then stomping them out. She had watched on in admiration at such a fun past time and had sulked when her brother told her that she could not participate.
Now it was her turn.
The girls hopped down into the grassy pasture and took their stances for the first match. They knew that you had to stomp hard and fast as soon as the match hit the ground. Strrriiiike...flame...throw...stomp....strike...flame...throw stomp...they continued this pattern at a steady pace through about 20 matches. Then the older, obviously smarter sister made the now infamous decision of telling her younger sister not to stomp the next time and to let the flame get just a little bigger before extinguishing it. Strrriiiiike, flame, throw.....gust of the summer wind....shrieks of fear....furious stomping...stomping...screaming...stomping...Older sister thinks of swearing but remembers she has to be a good example to younger sister...furious stomping...screaming...then just watching. Watching as the fire caught new life and grasped to everything within its reach. Watching as a lump bigger than a softball rose in their throats and terror took up place in the pits of their stomach.
The older sister knew they had to think quick. She ran to the water hose and fiercely stretched it towards the hungry flames....running as fast as she could she is jerked backwards through the air onto her butt and cries out in frustration because the hose has reached as far as it can go. Not far enough.
Thoughts of a crazed father ringing her neck, a mother exploding in anger and the understanding that parents can be totally unreasonable at times like this, forces the girl to make the only decision she can...NOT to tell her parents. Instead, they worked wholeheartedly at fire fighting by going into the house and filling up beverage glasses full of water and then running them the 20 yards to splash on the fire. The fire roared on getting bigger with every second passing. Like a few droplets of water was enough to put out its rampage.
The mother, whose attention was caught by the constant parading of water glasses to and fro and the four shoes covered in soot, demanded to know what the girls were up to. The older sister was ready to delve into a full blown fairy tale when the little, red-headed girl immediately burst into uncontrollable sobs blowing their chance at not getting in trouble, the ultimate objective here.
It must have been a Saturday because the dad was nearby listening to this and immediately burst out the door, dragging the older brother behind him. When they reached the fire it was just inches away from taking over a very large shop full of odds and ends and oh say 50,000 dollars worth of farm equipment. The pigs were also in mortal danger and were worried of becoming bacon all to soon.
Luckily, a big, strong dad and big, strong brother can do almost anything when they really need to. Equipped with shovels they work fast and efficiently. After an hour or so, they had been able to smother out the fire before it was able to do any major damage. It really was a miracle and little, fervent prayers were being heard for that fire to be put out as easily as it was.
The funny thing is the girls cannot remember if and how much trouble they were in. However, they were constantly reminded of their mistake by having to wear their soot covered shoes to school.
To this day, some 14 years later, the family still talks about this memory in their late night chats as they sit all gathered and cozy in their parent's living room.
Ironically, the girls may or may not have had a poster (given to them at a fire prevention assembly at school) of Smoky the Bear taped on their bedroom wall. The older girl claims to have felt a little bit lied to after assuming for all these years that she only had prevention powers when it came to the forest. Maybe she needs to write him and tell him that his warning is incomplete and should read something like this: "Only you can prevent forest, pasture, lawn, house, corral, shop, pig fires." or maybe not.