Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chapter 24

Storms of Life

" Pretty soon it darkened up, and begun to thunder and lighten; so the birds was right about it. Directly it begun to rain, and it rained like all fury, too, and I never see the wind blow so. It was one of these regular summer storms. It would get so dark that it looked all blue-black outside, and lovely; and the rain would thrash along by so thick that the trees off a little ways looked dim and spider-webby; and here would come a blast of wind that would bend the trees down and turn up the pale under-side of the leaves; and then a perfect ripper of a gust would follow along and set the branches to tossing their arms as if they was just wild; and next, when it was justabout the bluest and blackest--fst! it was as bright as glory, and you'd have a little glimpse of tree-tops a-plunging about away off yonder in the storm, hundreds of yards further than you could see before; dark as sin again in a second, and now you'd hear the thunder let go with an awful crash, and then go rumbling, grumbling, tumbling, down the sky towards the under side of the world, like rolling empty barrels down stairs--where it's long stairs and they bounce a good deal, you know.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)

            I gotta say that I was pretty much useless for the next week or so.  I couldn’t even sleep until I pulled out the old folding cot and set it up in an unused alcove and even then I didn’t sleep much.  I didn’t eat much either and nearly made myself sick until I noticed how my mood was affecting the ark.  It was at that point I decided I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and deal with reality. 

            But accepting being alone again and dealing with the consequences of it were two different things.  For one there was only me to chop the wood … or find it and carry it back.  There was only me to carry the water.  There seemed to overall be as many chores for one as there was for two, just no one to share the workload with. 

            Then my monthlies came and I cried and then was ashamed of myself for the reason.  In some secret place in my heart I wouldn’t have minded having a piece of Lee to keep for my own and love forever.  But when I really sat down and thought about how crazy that was, thought about the girls I’d gone to school with that had babies for the wrong reasons and how it usually turned out, I forced myself to admit I was being selfish and that I might one day have a baby but is sure shouldn’t be right then or for those reasons. 

            I guess it was at that point that I finished picking myself up and kept moving forward.  I’d always love Lee, might never love anyone else the same way, but I survived losing my family, I survived Uncle Jerry throwing me out, and I knew I was choosing to survive Lee leaving.  Surviving didn’t make me a better person but it did spark my determination.  Survival is like any other habit in life … eventually you get fairely decent at it. 

Spring came late and summer barely came at all but I didn’t let that stop me.  I picked greens when and where I found them, hunted when the opportunity presented itself, foraged for what little did survive the quirky weather, and in general covered it all with a lot of praying.  M&M surprised me with a chick … the other eggs in the nest never hatched … and I worried for a bit until I saw Rufus was as uninterested and unimpressed by the chick as she had been its parents.  In fact Rufus was noticeably uninterested in just about everything but laying in front of the fireplace.  Then she got to where she didn’t even want me to pick her up; she’d tolerate a brushing but that was about it.  I checked her stem to stern looking for something wrong but never could find anything.  Then one morning in July I woke up to Beau’s howling.  Rufus had passed on. 

My heart broke a little more but, as had become my habit, I survived.  We all did though I surely did miss my curmudgeonly queen of the cave. I put one foot in front of the other and just kept going.  I wasn’t sure why anymore but it seemed the thing to do so I did it.  

Beau wasn’t a puppy any longer and I realized he needed to be a dog and all that came with it.  I finally started taking him with me on my foraging and hunting runs and he turned into a pretty good example of his species and breed.  He trained about as well as any dog I’d ever had and after only a couple of weeks I stopped having to be so careful of him to make sure he didn’t leave me or get lost. 

The one thing I didn’t do under any circumstances was go anywhere near other people to get their attention, not that I saw that many.  I had worried that the area would be hunted over but not a chance.  It was down right eerie how few people I saw and then ones I did see all seemed to be goobermint types or something so similar they could have passed for each other. 

A few times I tried to get close enough to hear what they talked about amongst themselves but I never could.  They were jumpy and well-armed and the combination didn’t seem to healthy for me.  I wondered for a while why I didn’t see no one else then decided either the government had closed off the area or what seemed more likely, fuel just wasn’t available. 

            A bad cold snap hit in early September, a snow storm of all things.  It was so bad I worried for my greenhouse plants.  I decided to take the canoe and check around the lake but the birds, all three of them, mobbed me every time I tried to go outside.  There had only been a few such times like that and there’d been a good reason for each so I listened despite feeling more than a bit foolish. 

            Then Beau started acting weird and I thought he was picking up the birds’ bad behavior.  Despite the likelihood of something bad, I was just about to show them who was boss when all four animals hightailed it into the cave proper squawking and carrying on, leaving me in the entry.  Then I felt it, some vibration through my feet. 

            I felt whatever it was off and on for the rest of the night.  The animals wouldn’t or couldn’t settle.  I couldn’t either.  Around about dawn I couldn’t stand it anymore.

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