I'm going to tell you a story about another family in another place in another time. This incident happened to my husband's mother when he was still a young lad, long before I knew him. He told me the story after he and I were married and I added it to our lore. HIs family used to summer at Victoria Beach on the other side of Lake Winnipeg, across from Gimli (where I summered as a child). Gimli was and is one of the most influential and best known Icelandic communities in North America. It's a summer place but also a fishing village and a diversified year-round town. Although there was a small permanent population living in Victoria Beach, it was smaller and more dependent on the summer folk. The year-round people supplied the services, ice for the ice boxes, wood for the stoves, food in the store, and so on. That's a sparse capsule description but you get the idea. It was a case of mutual dependence.
So one summer it happened that Bill's mother, Kate Wylie, (we named our second daughter after her) was getting very upset as the ice in her icebox dripped away and the delivery man had not brought any fresh ice. The food was going to go bad, some of it already questionable. Her grumbles increased to rants, and still the iceman did not come. Oh, just wait, just wait till he came! Oh, she was going to give him a piece of her mind. What was he thinking of, letting her food rot and her children go hungry? Oh, just wait!
Finally, he came with a comfortingly large block of ice. Before Kate could say a word, he began to apologize. Sorry, he said, so sorry, but he was away with the volunteers fighting the forest fire. Forest fire??? Well, of course, the poor man. And how tired he was looking, too. Kate didn't rant, not one word of rant. And that became the legendary saying.
When someone seems to be remiss and is not meeting expectations, wait for the excuse in case it's valid. Maybe they were fighting forest fires. And so it was yesterday. The person I was supposed to meet was fiighting a personal, stressful forest fire. An elderly relative living in a home had a bad fall and needed to be hospitalized, and he was it. I'm happy to tell you that I didn't rant. I wrote him an email before I heard from him and hoped that the cold weather and a TTC breakdown had not affected him (as it had affected me). See, I knew about forest fires.