Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chapter 18

Toiling and Trouble

"Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.” – Mark Twain


For the next three weeks – from before sun up ‘til well after sundown – we were working hard, trying to beat winter.  The walls were finished and the fireplace and chimney as well.  I put in a stone floor in the entry room while Lee cut timber for roof beams and found a fallen tree just begging to be turned into shakes.

Then, after finding a likely stand of small diameter trees he cut them and split them lengthwise then brought them in to dry to make a puncheon floor at least in the bedroom after I laid a hearth of granite for the wood stove to sit on.

The hanging oil lamp brightened things in the living area better than the wind up lamps ever had and when Lee found some mirrors as we cleaned and reorganized the storage annex we could just about double the candle power from reflection alone.

As Lee hammered in roof shakes, I attached slate to the exterior wall, sealing the seam where the room met the side of the mountain with clay and a coating of plaster of paris.  After the room was finished Lee started on the greenhouse.  It went up in just three days just like he envisioned.

“Bella, until you actually start using the green house for more than these tree seedlings, how about we screw those Lexan panels to the frame to protect the glass.”

“The ones we swiped from those trail lean to’s?”

“The same.”

“Guess we better ‘cause tempered glass or not, we don’t know what kind of weather winter is gonna bring.”

A couple of days after that I was out by myself gathering stone to use to even up the floor where the dining table sat when all of a sudden M & M flew at my face to mob me.  They did it three times driving me backwards.

“You lunatic birds!  What’s your problem?!”

They came in for a fourth try when a horrendous wind came out of the northeast, so cold it flet like a blade to the back of my neck.  The wind knocked both birds tip over tail and they were in a panic, unable to stand or get airborne.

I grabbed them up and put them inside my jacket where they huddled, shivering.  I’d finally gotten the message, it was time to hurry home.  Then the rain started.  I’d never gotten caught in a storm so bad; the rain came down so hard it hurt and I could barely see in front of me  Then something hit me.  Then again.  The third time I fell on my butt and slid half way down the steep trail.  I was getting pounded and I realized it was hail.  The sack of stones was the only thing protecting my back.  I had to use one armto protect the bird sand hold them still and the other for balance so I didn’t fall again.  The trail leveled out finally and I knew I was almost home but it would mean leaving the relative protection of the trees and dealing with the full fury of the hail and rain.

As soon as I made a break for it a good chunk of ice caught me above my eye, then one hit my ear, then another, and another.  I kept slipping and stumbling, knew I was going down again as I could see due to the rain and blood running into my eyes.  Then a strong arm was there and a hand to guide me the rest of the way.   

“Bella!  Geez look at you.  I was coming to look for you and saw … where’s all this blood?   OK, split eyebrow and you ear looks knicked.  Jumping …!  Get out of the way birds!  Go play with your sparklies or something.”

Leed had taken off my jacket only to find the two traumatized ravens.  Despite his yell of irritation he moved them gently until he was sure they weren’t injured.

“Th … th … they came shrieking at me.  They could have flown home ahead of the storm but they stopped to try and tell me something bad was coming.”

“Yeah, bad enough to make a bear run.”

“Wha … what?”

“I was chopping wood to fill the lean to when a bear just barreled right passed me like I wasn’t even there.  The only thing I could think of was fire, then a wind came through that was strong enough to try and rip the ax out of my hands.  I threw everything inside, closed the shutters on the window and was looking for you to come when the hail started.  I knew which trail you took and was just coming after you when I saw you.”  He took the compress off my eye but sighed.  “Bella, this needs a couple of stitches.”

I shuddered.  Uncle Jerry had stitched my finger where I’d sliced it open peeling potatoes.  “Can’t you just tape it?”

“I wouldn’t put you through it if I didn’t think it was necessary.”

It was as unpleasant as I thought it was going to be; from cleaning to sewing.  By the time Lee was finishe we were both shaking.  My whole face felt sore radiating out from my eyebrown and my eye was swelling shut.

“Bella …”

“I’m fine Lee.  You just did what had to be done.  I just hope the scar isn’t too bad.”

“I was as careful as I could be.”

“I know.  A two-inch gash is a two-inch gash  Give me a sec and I’ll figure out something for dinner.”

“No way.  We’re getting you in a tub of hot water and then you’re going to bed.”

“No, it’s OK.  Better to be busy to take my mind off of it.”

“Better for you to listen.  Bath then bed when a pain pill to knock you out.”

“Tylenol isn’t going to touch this.”

“I didn’t say Tylenol.  I’ve got a small stash of stuff I should have put in the first aid kit tub; just never got around to taking it out of my pack.”

“Lee …”

“Bella …”

So without further ado … though a little fuss when he insisted on undressing me so I could get into the storage tub I used as a bath tub, and then helping me out, drying me off, and sliding my night gown over my head … I was off to bed.

“You’ve got nothing to be ashamed of Bella,” he said in a voice he was trying to keep the huskiness out of.

“I’m not ashamed.  You gave me a ring already, it’s just … I don’t know … new I guess.  And you look so hard I could almost feel it.”

“You’re beautiful Bella – inside and out – and now I get to look my fill without feeling like a pervert.”

“I guess,” I told him.  But my eyes were getting heavy.

“Still hurt?” 

“In … in a … (yawn) … far off way.”

“OK, pill has hit.  Now rest.  I won’t burn the cave down fixing a ham sandwich.  And the animals won’t go hungry either.  The birds are as close to norm as they ever get.  It’s still storming so no work outside anyway.  Have I dealt with all of your objections?” 

I can’t remember whether I answered or not.

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