One of my many faults — and, yes, there are many —is that I am habitually late. I’m not particularly proud of this in general, but a recent incident ought to be reason enough for some people (namely, my husband) to cut me a little slack.

When my daughter, Emily, was here visiting recently, we had plans to go into town to have a picnic lunch with my daughter-in-law and granddaughter.

I told Emily that we would leave at a certain time — and I was almost ready at the appointed time. I really was. I just needed a few more minutes to finish my makeup. We then headed to the vehicle, but I decided to run back into the house and grab a blanket and water bottles for our picnic. And then I ran back in again to get a cooler for groceries. Finally, we were on our way, not too much later than originally planned — at least, not as much later as I have often been.

When we pulled over the auto gate away from our tree-surrounded yard and into the wide-open space, I looked both ways on the dirt road and then turned left to head toward town.

Now here is where I have to tell you about one of my many other faults: I am not very observant.

I can be driving from our house in the country to town and might pass right by my husband and son on horseback in a pasture next to me and not notice them. They might even be waving madly at me to get my attention, and I wouldn’t see them. Of course, they probably wouldn’t waste the energy waving madly at me as they would be pretty sure that I still wouldn’t see them.

Anyway, you get the idea.

So, perhaps you won’t be too astounded to know that after I had dutifully checked for traffic — and seen nothing — and then turned west, Emily, who is very observant, suddenly asked, “Is that smoke over there?”

“Where?” I asked, looking around.

“Over there,” she said, pointing to the northeast.

Yes, now that she’d pointed it out, I could definitely see a large plume of black smoke.

We headed back to the house to find my husband, but he was off on horseback somewhere.

I started dialing numbers of various neighbors but had a hard time getting in touch with anybody. I left a message with my niece, who often goes on fire calls around here, but kept trying to call others even though, by this time, Emily had gone back outside to check and couldn’t see the smoke anymore.

My niece then called back and said she could see the smoke from where she was and was on her way to check it out.

As it turned out, our neighbors’ tractor had caught on fire, and the flames were starting to spread to a pickup and toward their barn. My niece was one of the first to arrive on the scene and helped get things under control.

The fire hadn’t been burning long, so if my daughter and I had left on time, we probably would have been too early for even Emily to have seen anything.

I wish I could say I’d actually seen the smoke before Emily pointed it out to me. Heck, I wish I could say I was handy enough to fight the fire.

But since I can take credit for neither of those things, I’ll just have to take credit for having been late. You can’t find “fault” with that, now can you?

Readers may contact Sybrant at or 45092 859th Road, Bassett, NE 68714.


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