Welcome to the April A to Z Blogging Challenge! This year my contribution is the story of my great grandmother Alzina. She lived in the style of “Little House on the Prairie”and kept a record of her life through letters to family and her own journals. I find her story fascinating and intriguing. Each post will start (sometimes strangely) with a consecutive letter of the alphabet, just because they have to. My hope is that we can “catch” some of her courage to help us face challenges in our present times.
Alzina saw the last of her students leave the schoolroom and head for home. Watching them walk the lane away from Triangle School, she wondered whether teaching would be the constant in her future. It was the fall term and this being one of her first positions, it was still exciting. At sixteen she was working and earning her own money! She was independent!
Well, maybe not completely independent. She was still living at home with her parents and siblings, and father had secured the horse and buggy for her, but she was paying for it herself. She watched the horse wandering around the schoolyard, grazing as far as its tether would allow. It was quite a fine animal.
Alzina gathered up her lunch pail and some papers she was grading and went out to get her steed harnessed up to the buggy. The five mile ride home through the Kansas countryside, in beautiful October weather was going to be relaxing. She needed it.
Her intentions of putting aside the day’s troubles were quite soon forgotten however. She found herself worrying about one of her students and the discipline she might have to apply to his case. It was an aggravating situation, one which she wanted to avoid. Her brow furrowed and she could feel her shoulders tensing as the buggy bumped along the lonely road.
The horse, as yet unnamed, was being a little unruly. It might have been something about the harness, or a biting insect that was provoking it to kick. At any rate, it was no trouble at all for Alzie to impose her irritation from the student to the poor animal. She picked up her buggy whip and flicked it at the horse’s rump. The kicking stopped immediately and turned into a wild and frantic rush down the road. The buggy careened into the grassy ditch and the bordering fence. Alzie saw the harness straps snap, and that was the last she remembered.
There is that moment that people speak of, right before they experience impending tragedy, where their life passes before their eyes for them to consider. Alzina was allowed that instant and the thought that she could perhaps have payed more attention to the horse and her driving. There was also that longing to have the moment back when she could have chosen not to use the whip, or perhaps to have checked the harness more carefully.
It was nearly an hour later, and a mile closer to home when Alzie, returning to the conscious world, found herself walking behind the horse, holding the driving line. Panic having wiped her memory clean, she continued walking and reached home where her concerned father met her and took the horse. A hired hand was sent back to find the buggy.
Fortunately there was no major injury to the girl, and the buggy was promptly repaired and was, in fact, ready the next morning for the trip to school. Five miles was a long way to walk and there was no one able to take her. But Alzie was made of tough stuff and did not scare easily. She was ready to try it again. To her great relief, her dear, understanding father had already found her a different horse. And it could be supposed that she also was now a different girl.