Duane’s Folly – Chapter 2


Duane was swept downhill into the dam through to the concrete runoff and over the top into the raging stream below. The fence into neighbouring property had been destroyed by floating tree missiles and he swept through broken and lifeless.

As neighbour Charles Matherson emerged later to begin an inspection of damage to his farmlands after the cyclone had passed on he was attracted by dogs barking at something by the side of the still swiftly running stream. Checking it out he saw the body of a young boy wedged in between broken trees swept down from upstream. Charles waded in to waist level hanging on to the trees to inspect and then gasped in surprise.

“It’s Duane, Allan’s boy!”

He was unable to dislodge him, so waded out and returned home to pick up the party line phone shared by farmers in that area. Old Mrs Smith on a farm five miles away acted as the person to switch to an individual farm or handle calls out, but in those days everyone who picked up a phone could listen into conversation. There were animated conversations as he picked up the phone while people on each property joined in conversation and swapped stories of cyclone damage. Young Duane was missing swept away from Alan’s property. Charles joined the conversation.

“Found young Duane, Allan can you drive over as I need yer help.”

There was silence on the line for a moment, everyone knew what the outcome would be. Some expressed sympathies but old Grandpa Jones blamed Allan and Jo for letting him go out in that storm. Again, there was silence. Then a torrent of abuse aimed at old Grandpa Jones who immediately hung up his phone protesting.

Many neighbours arrived to express their support as Allan and Charles bought the lifeless boy back home. They waited for police to arrive to investigate and write their report then left to begin the process notifying and handling changes in government records.

Jo sat in her sewing room as the farmer women rallied around attempting to comfort her. She reviewed events leading up to his death over and over trying to think of what she could have done to prevent this sad situation. The words of Grandpa Jones cut deep into her soul as she recalled events. Allan shed tears as the men around him stood by uncomfortably trying to find words to express their sympathy. Farmer folk stick together in a crisis despite occasional tiffs over boundaries and lost livestock.

Allan and Jo decided to bury Duane on the farm. So, the men all worked together to dig at the ancestral grave site. There were many crosses there to mark graves of family members who’d passed on from Great Grandfather’s day to the present.

They waited for Charles to return home to collect his Bible. He was looked on as the most prominent man in that farming community and was always asked to oversee all their meetings at the community hall by the school or wherever a need arose.

Charles read from the Good Book while women wept, and men stood by stoically. The loss of one was a loss for all in this community. Then they all sat down to a subdued meal farmer woman from the community had prepared hastily leaving Allan and Jo to their grief late that evening. Many would be back on the morrow to see if they could help around the farm as damage was assessed and moral support needed to be given.

As Jo sat with the women next day one of the elder women noted movement in Jo’s abdomen.

“Expectin another youngen Jo?” She whispered.

Jo nodded. “I aint callin em Duane if es a boy!” She said firmly.

The women nodded solemnly. That would be testing fate to do that.

“© Copyright Ian Grice,

ianscyberspace 2018 All rights reserved


20 thoughts on “Duane’s Folly – Chapter 2

  1. After being away from my computer for sometime, I have finally caught up on all my email including all the stories you have sent. Enjoy them all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As always you took us to a real place which you obviously know and remember well. Thank you. It sounds a lot like the farm on which my husband grew up even though his was in South Dakota – the other side of the world. Their killing weather was the blizzard which sometimes stole down unannounced from the north. A good read is David Laskin’s “The Children’s Blizzard” It was in 1888 – terrible weather which may now be averted by global warming?? it can still be bad for Dan’s cousin froze to death in one of their blizzards.

    Keep ’em coming!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can remember travelling through South Dakota and thinking about the regular weather patterns that plague that state and the Canadian provinces above. I would never survive there as I’m a tropical born and raised person. However you’ve made the point weather can be threatening wherever you live in this world today. I’m so sorry for Dan’s family loss. It’s a terrible way to die. The book sounds like an interesting read.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, as you may have guessed I grew up on a farm and understand some of the traumas farmers face. My Dad just about went bankrupt during an extended drought and had to trade his way out by buying using bank money, stocking cropping fencing and selling property after property. That’s the only way to make money these days unless you go high tech farming methods. That’s for corporations with big money rather than small farmers.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I could feel the ‘knowing’ laced through this story. You Father had so much grit and I sense the same in you. That flexibility of spirit that keeps the family boat afloat, where all pull together. Hugs for you xX

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, something as simple as eating together round a table is being lost. The connections with the bonds that hum with loving energy and ‘knowing’. Precious, very precious. Hugs for you Ian. Xx

        Liked by 1 person

  4. A sad story, Ian,

    You painted a very authentic farming community – their reaction and how they rallied around the aggrieved family. And little details like the shared telephone – I loved that – added so much realism to the tale.

    I suppose you drew on life from your earlier days and your obvious keen observation of people and events.

    Thank you for having shared this – much appreciate it.


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Eric back in the late 1940’s my mother convinced my city born Dad who had a nervous breakdown after the war to buy a farm and have someone manage it while he recovered his health. It was an eye opener for all of us living on a farm and getting to know the culture which is so opposite to city life. The description of the large property and its topography is ours. Placement of the buildings ours. The storms were while we were there. The first dam we built was an earth one and wiped out. The next one was more substantial and survived. After that we had a long drought that drained Dad’s fortune and he had to recover fast and trade his way back to prosperity buying and selling properties like that and selling them at a profit to clear bank overdraft. He was almost killed driving one of the trucks serving his timber business but survived to live comfortably in the city again. He was a keen sportsman who won trophies and Deputy Mayer of the city. Fortunately the Duanes in the rural community were not on our farms.

      Liked by 2 people

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