A House is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body. ~ Benjamin Franklin
Iceland’s earthquakes and volcanoes,
blackened skies, smothered crops, starved livestock
left already poor families
destitute, no means for survival
in a harsh unforgiving landscape
of glaciers, scarce arable land;
only rough terrain for the grazing
of sheep and tough Icelandic horses.
Canada invited immigrants
to settle its prairie provinces,
unite the country from sea to sea.
They needed farmers to break the land,
plant and harvest wheat, barley and rye.
They offered passage by sea and rail
and provided implements to farm,
tools and supplies to last the winter.
In 1900 they left their land
of fire and ice for Saskatchewan,
my Grampa, Magnus Ingimarsson,
and Gramma, Vilborg Gudmundsdottir.
In sea trunks their priceless possessions:
the Lutheran Bible, Prose Eddas,
writings of their distinguished authors
and poets. They had but little else:
household goods, language, culture, courage,
thirst for knowledge, fire in hearts and minds.
Their first shelter dug from prairie sod;
oiled paper, no glass for windows,
scarce logs supported sod for the roof.
The first winters were harsh with freezing
temperatures, driving snow, blizzards
so fierce they couldn’t see their hands
in front of their faces. Many died
walking from their farmhouses to their barns;
but, they persevered and made their home,
tilled the soil, planted, harvested crops
and, in time, became wealthy with food
and fire for mind as well as body.