A wonderful bit of writing AP, most evocative.

Raine, James is getting his trial by fire when it comes to the Parasol. One of the trickier tasks with the little beast is indeed keeping it on the ground and upright once you have it there. Also, it was the blue plate special Swany found.

Carrick, love the old photo of the mg practice set-up.

Scout, Aleck is suffering the bane of many a WWI pilot, that of trying to sort out just where the hell one is. But he read his map and managed in the end - well done.

Yet another day of foul weather at Auchel, this time rain and wind rather than the snow. And again, no flying. On a brighter note, a Christmas package from home that had first been sent to Netheravon, missing Swany by a day, had been forwarded along and found its way to his new digs. It was sitting on his bunk waiting for him upon his return from a map reading class given by the camp Operations Officer shortly after lunch. The box had clearly been fashioned with board trimmings from his uncle's saw mill, and when Swany pried the top off the smell of pine wafted out, reminding him instantly of home. He dug into the packing of wood shavings and excelsior and began pulling out the paper-wrapped treasures within: three pairs of thick wool socks and a warm scarf to match; two quart jars of blueberry preserves; a bag of black licorice, (the young man's favorite candy); a tin of homemade spritzkakor; and a bottle of akvavit. The final item nestled down in the wooden crate was a gift he'd received from his parent's when he was eight, and the one thing he'd specifically asked to have sent him; his Hardanger fiddle. He lifted the pressed leather case from the packing, gently brushing away the pine shavings. He opened the lid and inspected the instrument, which had survived its journey perfectly. Swany then removed the bow case from its nesting, making a similar inspection of the contents. All was well, and after a brief tuning of the fiddle he began to play an old Norwegian dance melody. The young man smiled broadly and his face glowed as he guided the bow deftly back and forth across the strings. He dearly loved the sound, and it transported him back to holidays on the farm. His eyes began to glisten as he suddenly realized just how much he missed his family and friends in Warroad. As he finished up the tune he dabbed his eyes with the back of his bow hand.

"That's some fancy fiddle work, Swany. You didn't tell me you played an instrument." The young man was momentarily shocked as he spun around to see 2nd Lt. Jericho standing at the door of the hut. Swany had been so wrapped up in the moment that he hadn't even heard him come in.

"Mark! You gafe me a start. Ya, I ah, I'vff been playing since I vas a boy." Swany's mixed Norwegian/Minnesotan/Canadian accent tended to come on stronger when he was startled or stressed.

"Well dang, wished I'd known that sooner, I would'a had my guitar sent along and we could have ourselves a regular show." This time it was Mark's Mississippian/Texan dialect tinting the reply. "That tune you just scratched off there, that was a lively one, good for dancin' I'll wager."

"You betch'ya!", Swany shot back.

For the remainder of the afternoon the two airmen talked of music and home and family, sharing some of the baked goods and candy and liquor that had accompanied Swany's prized fiddle. Mark discovered how well a sugar cookie and a bite of licorice went with a shot of akvavit. Truth be told he made the discovery several times, after which he taught Swany the tune and words to "The Cowboy's Lament". Unbeknownst to the pair, their singing and fiddle accompaniment could be heard quite some distance beyond the hut, and no small mention was made of it in the mess that evening.