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Joyce's Journey

  Not My Plan



Fiery Trials

Posted on March 2, 2017 at 3:30 PM

Dad burnt our garbage in two old oil barrels. On rural farms in 1960, this was a common practice. We lived too far from the city dump. Burning trash intrigued me. At times, it was a spectacular display. Each burning object exhibited a different hue from yellow, orange, bright red to a deep violet. Roasting objects crackled with random popping noises. This display kept me entertained for several minutes.

On one occasion, dad burnt a truck load of feed sacks. The flames escalated ten feet in the air leaving a large deposit of fluffy gray ashes piled a foot high. This pile enticed me to examine it further. When the flames ceased, I touched the ashes discovering them to be silky soft like baby powder. As smoke lingered in the air, my curiosity continued. Removing my shoes and socks, I walked into the piles of ashes. The gray powder swished between my toes. It felt amazing. I cupped the ashes into my hands rubbing them on my legs and arms like lotion. Mysteriously, the fumes became intoxicating. I couldn’t breath. I coughed and coughed. I had to clear my lungs. Gagging, I ran to the water well and rinsed off my face. I gulped the cold water down my throat. After three lingering swallows of water, my coughing stopped. My heart pounded in my chest. But, I could breathe again.

This was frightening. What was in those ashes?

What was in those sacks?

This was a scary discovery.

I didn’t inform mom and dad about my episode. I learned the danger of fire.

Two weeks later, I discovered my younger sister, Vonne crying in the middle of the yard. I yelled asking what is wrong? Yet, she remained frozen in place and continued her sobs. As the older sister, I had to examine her fears. She would not speak although she had a large range of vocabulary for a four year old. Slowly, she lifted her foot. Large blisters covered her foot.  My eyes glanced towards the trash barrels as smoke still filtrated the air. Examining Vonne’s other foot,  it too had blisters. Tears rolled down Vonne’s dirty face leaving behind a clean trail of pink cheeks. I knew what happened, but I had to ask. Vonne, did you walk in the ashes by the trash barrels? She nodded her head. Suddenly, adrenaline rushed inside me.

I grabbed Vonne under her arms informing her to hold on my neck. She was too heavy for me to lift, but my burst of adrenaline allowed me to carry her into the house. I placed Vonne on a foot stool in the kitchen and prepared a bowl of cold water filled with ice cubes. Her small feet fit perfectly into mom’s metal bowl. Does that feel better? She nodded. When her tears stopped, she gave me a soft hug. I wiped her face and hands and told her to keep her feet in ice water until the pain stops. I had no idea how long that would be. I scurried to the living room and positioned the television so we could watch cartoons from the kitchen. We sat together for two hours until supper time. I made more three trays of ice cubes to keep her feet comfortable. Three trays were all I could find.

After supper, dad carried Vonne upstairs to our bedroom. She fell asleep before I finished reading the third chapter in my new fairy tale book.

She looked peaceful as she slept. Strangely, she began snoring. I giggled. I had never heard her snore before. She must be all right. I closed my book and said my prayers.

Thank you Jesus for protecting my sister. I love her and.... her snoring. I am very tired tonight.

Good night, Lord.


Joyce Larson Yexley

Categories: Faith & Blessings