BY-WAYS - 6/25/42 - Third Anniversary of Column

The highways of life are the roads to success - But the by-ways of life are the little side paths Achievement - whatever the ultimate goal; Where we gather hyacinths for the soul.


Each year there are new subscribers to the Saltsburg Press. For your benefit, newcomers, we'll repeat the little poem that started off this column three years ago this month. I fear there haven't been many "hyacinths" lately. Summer drought, I guess. I got up very early this Sabbath morning - to write you a poem. But the poetry Muse is taking her summer vacation, and has gone elsewhere - either up into the cool pine woods of the North, or into the veritable hell and fire and suffering in the combat zones. Out of that purgatory will come the world's great literature for 1940-50.

A letter from a soldier boy in Australia reached Estelle the other day (Thanks to an understanding husband, she tries to keep up correspondence with friends in the service). This boy writes (I was going to quote him verbatim, but I find the letter has already gone to Tommy) of the rich experience of travelling half way 'round the world - with the hope of going farther. He says the "Aussies" are swell, and treat our boys just fine. Well, I envy him his great experience - and just wish that I could go forth like that, and get into the fight. But here I am - dull and useless; can't even write a poem about women's work in this war. I am reminded of the "futility" poem I wrote - back in the days when I felt an overwhelming urge to write, but was too busy tending babies. The title of this masterpiece was "A Would-be Woman Writer's Wail," and the first verse ran -

I long to write poetry, essays, and such;
I would stir a whole world with my pen. -
But, instead, I must stir
(With a sigh and demur)
The farina and oatmeal again.

Just as monotonous is a housewife's part in this job of winning the war. She is asked to save, not only all grease, which is simple enough, but all tin cans, which is not so simple. She is asked to wash and dry each can, remove its label, open the other end of the can, then flatten can, to conserve space. How I dislike that job! Sometimes I vow I won't open any more cans of food. But that is well nigh impossible. So the only alternative is to build a thought - a slogan - around each infinitesimal contribution like that to the war work:

"Here! I'm not merely cutting a can;
I'm cutting our way to the heart of Japan.
'Tis just the tiniest wee bit of tin, -
But every bit helps in our effort to win."

Any hyacinths this past week? Well, I believe I found one on the busiest day of the week - wash-day. In the late afternoon I was taking down the clothesline. (Our men folks do it gladly, but they get it all twisted.) As I released the patent hook that held the long stretch of line between the house and garage, a young robin alighted on that sagging rope. He had a beautiful time, testing out his wings and his power of balance. Being young, he wasn't much afraid of me. Down on the ground, close to the hedge - keeping in the background - his mother was watching him. Two other young ones were sitting in the drive, as if resting after their first flight. Slowly and gently I swayed the rope; wider and wider the arc. Still he held on for dear life, his little tail snapping into fan shape on the instant - to give him balance. He proved to his mother that he could take care of himself. He didn't fly away in the thick of "combat" - but in a dull moment when the friendly war was over. Isn't that just like our "fledgelings?" They are surely trying their wings right now - in the war, that always one way, and then another. But, whichever way, they are hanging on for dear life - snapping to attention in the moment of peril. God bless them all!

Oh, yes, a lovely hyacinth came by mail last Monday. It was sweet and fragrant, as if kissed by the morning dew. I suspect it was kissed by a woman's tears, for it was a letter from one who lost her husband only two months ago - Virginia McQuiston Morris. Her letter reads like poetry; and she, who lay almost at death's door at the time of her husband's passing, has pulled her spiritual forces together to write. "Perhaps at the heyday of life, like a tuneswept fiddle string, this has felt the Master's melody and snaps its test. For there are no errors in the great eternal plan; and all things work together for the final good of man. I accept, unreservedly, God's plan." What a hyacinth of the soul!

Florence B. Taylor

Next - 7/9/42 - Waiting for visitors from Saltsburg

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