Seasons Of The Hearth
By Tim Franey
The Fire Burns Brightly in January
If our Wood Classic had a favorite season this might be it. It gets the most attention and appreceation at this time of year when every day is below freezing and the sun just can't seem to get the job done. But where the sun "sluffs off" the stove picks up and burns even brighter; and we are as cozy as we ever were in days of auld lang syne. (In case you missed it, that was a segue.) Speaking of "Auld Lang Syne" (times gone by), the song that is sung all over the world on the first day of this month, was written by a Scottish poet, R. Burns. While most everyone knows that song, I'd enjoy taking a moment this season to share a bit about it's author. I like the guy. Maybe it's the cool, "fire-ish" name: Burns. Maybe the Scottish heritage link. (My great grandparents were from Brechin, Scotland) Or probably I just like his way with words. My favorite song of his, "A Man's A Man", cuts low the snobbery and pride of the "high-born" men of status in his day (1759-1796) and elevates the common man with lines like:
The pith o' sense an' pride o' worth
Are higher rank than a' that.
The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
Is king o' men for a' that.
Good stuff. The Scots held these themes in high regard and this kind of thinking was drawn upon heavily by the founders of our nation in framing equality into The Constitution. A lot of people like this Burns guy. In fact, in Scotland there's a holiday for him. It's coming up soon, too. Jan. 25th is Burns Night. Friends gather for a dinner of "neeps and tatties" (turnips and potatoes) and "haggis" (you don't want to know). They recite and sing Burns and toast to one another's health. And of course, they close the evening with singing "Auld Lang Syne." Speaking of closing, let me leave you with a portion of a Burns poem, "Winter: A Dirge" which you may relate to as you sit by your stove which, burns brightly, while you look out your window into "The sweeping blast, the sky o'ercast, The joyless winter day..." --Burns asks for God's help accepting these cold days since he's not able to enjoy them...
The wintry west extends his blast,
And hail and rain does blaw;
Thou Power Supreme, whose mighty scheme
These woes of mine fulfill,
Here firm I rest; they must be best,
Because they are Thy will!
Then all I want-O do Thou grant
This one request of mine!-
Since to enjoy Thou dost deny,
Assist me to resign.