Keep home fires burning

This time of year is one of reflection for many; as Mother Nature turns herself inward, making the plants go dormant and the days go shorter, so we look inward and reminisce.

Did you know that the days around Halloween are known worldwide for their connection to the passage of life? For many cultures and religions, Allhallowtide (from Oct. 30 through Nov.2) is a time when people honour those who have passed and connect with them in some way.

Here in Canada, we also have Remembrance Day only a short time after, in respect for those who have given their lives in battles honouring our culture and principles. One is hard pressed to miss these opportunities to think about life and its passing.

Soldiers away from home know how precious the every-day, mundane tidbits of life are to our livelihood. The rest of us should take note and think of their example. The phrase “keep the home fires burning” refers to those who were at home, not to those away at war.

The power of knowing that families back home were keeping things normal and ready for their return was a great strength for the troops in the field. The same is true for loved ones of someone who is ill – positive energy goes a long way in warming the heart and soul. Why couldn’t we encourage that as a year-round pastime?

When I was little, my Gramps had a saying that he liked and one year I wrote it out for him and framed it as a gift. When he passed away years ago, I got the frame back and saw it with fresh eyes as an adult. It’s called The Clock of Life.

I have put it in a prominent spot as a reminder to myself that every moment counts.

The Clock of Life is wound but once
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.
Live, love, toil with a will
But place no faith in Tomorrow
For the clock may then be still.

In researching this article, I found out that the poem was written by Robert H. Smith. The version my grandfather knew was an adapted one that became famous just before the Second World War. (Keep reading – this is a wonderful example of truth being even better than fiction.)

A shortened version of Mr. Smith’s poem was on a scrap of paper in the pocket of Edward J. O’Hare’s coat when they found him gunned down on Nov. 8, 1939. O’Hare was famous as the lawyer who helped federal prosecutors put Al Capone in jail for tax evasion, but he had a full life, too.

O’Hare made a fortune representing the fellow who invented the mechanical rabbit for greyhound racing and he knew Charles Lindbergh, even hitching a plane ride with him once.

He was involved with Capone for years, but then turned on him by approaching the IRS, and he was instrumental in producing many parts of the case against Capone. He was gunned down one week before Capone was to be released from prison.

Was this a note he kept as his own reminder, or was it put there by those who stopped the clock for him? Does it really matter??

I hope you will forgive me for being a bit sentimental this week. My birthday is in November, so I reflect on the year anyway about now. My Dad passed away at the end of October, 10 years ago now, and that makes me thoughtful, too. Isn’t it funny how life happens in spurts?

In closing, here is Mr. Smith’s original poem, which does an even nicer job of making the point. I can understand why Mr O’Hare had it close to his heart.

The Clock of Life

by Robert H. Smith, copyright 1932, 1982

The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.

To lose one's wealth is sad indeed,
To lose one's health is more,
To lose one's soul is such a loss
That no man can restore.

The present only is our own,
So live, love, toil with a will,
Place no faith in "Tomorrow,"
For the Clock may then be still.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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