"Civilization is the limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.” – Mark Twain
Two hours later ther interlopers were gone after a lot of gagging, puking, and complaining by some of them. Lee had finally worked his way back around and we had watched the whole thing.
“They left everything in the camp. I want to go over it one more time.”
“Do I get to come this time?” I asked him.
“I’d rather you didn’t. It’s still gonna be a mess.”
“Fine, I said with as much grace as I could muster. “But I’m not gonna just stand around being useless. I’m gonna go look at the building.”
Lee opened his mouth but then shook his head. “Just be careful.”
I didn’t envy Lee combing through the mess but I did want to help. He on the other hand wanted to protect me from something that was awful. It was up to me to keep us from being at loggerheads so I backed down and let him be the man which he would be whether I “let” him or not. It wasn’t an easy thing for me to do, not because I didn’t trust Lee, but because I’d gotten used to being “in charge” of myself.
I wandered thoughtfully to my destination thinking this whole being a real grown woman was going to be harder than I thought it was going to be. I was practically on top of the tree before I realized what I was seeing … persimmons.
“Yeehaw,” I said with quiet awe.
All the fruit on the bottom branches was gone but there was plenty up in the top branches. No way was I going to leave such an unexpected bounty. I had a bag out of my pack and a booted foot in the first crook of the tree when Mischief landed on my head and cawed, “Purty thang.”
That was his phrase for sparklies and sure enough Molly, who had landed on a nearby stump, had something shiny in her beak.
“Where’d you get that?” I asked. I didn’t try and take it from her or they wouldn’t share.
After thinking it over Mischief hopped over to the door of the cabin that had been popped over when the tree fell on the corner of the structure. Cautiously I followed him inside only to lose a year off my life when Molly swooped down on me from behind, dropped the sparklie she’d been holding in her beak into my front shirt pocket and then diving at a pile of stuff on the floor.
I stuck my head out and called, “In here.” When he came over I told him, “M & M found sparklies.”
“Those two could find sparklies on the dark side of the moon. What are they into this time?”
I pointed and said, “I think it was a wall safe. When the tree fell it popped out and open the same as the door did.”
“What the heck?” he said shining a flashlight at the twisted metal box half hanging upside down. “Looks like it was up in the loft. That tree must have really packed a wollop; it knocked everything out of the loft looks like.”
“Everything but those built-in shelves along the stairs, and that oil lamp on a chain.”
Lee chuckled then asked, “Anyone ever call you Mizz Literal?”
“Huh? Oh.” Blushing I admitted, “If they didn’t say it I’m sure some have thought it.”
Still grinning Lee says, “It has its charm.”
I rolled my eyes. “Find anything else in that camp?”
“Nothing worth fighting a bear over.”
“Yeah. A yearling from the look of it. On the small and skittish side. I don’t know if it’s on its own or not so I let out after checking on the boats.”
“So can we take any of this?”
“There’s a canoe hung up under a lean to in the back. We’ll put gear in it and tie it to my skiff. Load wood in the skill itself. Misceallaneous whatever can go in your bass boat. But we need to hurry.”
“I know,” I said then brushed tail feathers out of my face as M & M dropped two more sparklies in my pocket. “Mischief! Doggone it! Do I look like you pack mule?!”
Lee just shook his head and said, “You spoil them birds.”
“They’re company and fun when they aren’t being ornery.”
Lee and I went in different directions trying to pick out what would be the most useful to haul back. I started with the linen closet and after finding that the people must have brought their linens with them when they came I headed into the kitchen. I thought I’d hit the jack pot with the persimmons but that kitchen gave us some really nice things.
I brought back the utensils some of which was good quality and some was cheap knock off stuff that would rust if it wasn’t dried before it was put away. Rather than take the time to sort them before hand I just dump everything together into one box. I also found some new and unopened local jams, jellies, and honeys … probably came from either a stand along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Gatlinburg, or maybe Cherokee.
There was a closet off the kitchen that had a locked metal door and I had to take the knob off with a hammer. I thought it was going to be a gun closet but it wound up being a food pantry. Got some more of them #10 cans like Mr. Harkins had left for me. Wasn’t a huge number of them but I sure wasn’t about to leave them behind. And I figure a woman must have been amongst the vacationers because there was a drawer full of spices and seasonings all done up in these cute, glass containers and all labeled in calligraphy.
There were a couple of cast iron trivets hanging on the wall for decoration where they did no good at all and a couple of cast iron skillets being used as decoration too. The things people do to make stuff useless. The skillets would need to be seasoned but otherwise seemed like someone’s flea market find.
Lee called from a back storage room, “Got some lamp oil here. It is that weird colored stuff but it’s the same brand that Gram prefers.”
I asked, “Where you able to save the lamp?”
He came out covered in dust and said, “Yeah I … whoa. Where’d that come from?”
I showed him and then we quickly finished getting as much as we could. Two hours later and we were as loaded as we could get and still paddle home. By the time we did get everything loaded and on our way I would have given a whole lot to have a trolling motor to help out.
If it had been just me I would have cleaned up and gone to bed but there was Lee and the animals to thing about. While I cooked some egg noodles and heating a jar of venison stew to go over them, Lee took Rufus and Beau out while he finished framing out the two hobbit-sized doors that would keep the heat out in summer and the cold out during winter.
I stepped out of the cave, nearly tripping on Rufus as he came in and asked Lee, “You hungry yet?”
“I’m always hungry. Here, hold this cord so I can measure for the beams.”
“Can you add a little more onto the eaves?”
“I was thinking of putting a slate skin on the outside of the sand bags so they would shed water better … kinda like cedar shakes. Make sense?”
“Can you do that?”
“Think so. I watched Daddy rehab a slate roof on some historic building and he always let me match sizes and color for him when he was doing part of a job off-site. The … the twins and I were going to be part of Daddy’s business.”
“No reason you can’t start your own business one of these days.”
That snapped me out of my sadness with a laugh. “Me?! Who would want a female stone mason?”
“You might be surprised.” After a thoughtful moment he said, “You know, we could start our own business one of these days. There’s gonna be a lot of rebuilding – or renovating – and we could get in on it. I’ve got designs like crazy in my head and I know carpentry. You’ve got a good eye for how to make space work and how to make it look nice with what materials are available, including salvage. We could do it all … shell, interior, exterior.”
“You’d want me for a partner?”
“Always have … a family business is just more of the same.”