The snow seemed to be deeper in some places the next day but the snowshoes were still working fine for Coon. She set off just after sun up but didn’t head toward the farm. She had her small “baby b.o.b.” on with it twisted to the back so it actually rested on its original name’s sake. Her grandfather’s knife was still at her right side, a canteen of water on her left, and her bow was in her left hand with the quiver of arrows across her back. During the night, Coon had wandered outside the cave and up the hill to a small meadow to look up into the clear sky at the stars and full moon.
Coon had only been up in the meadow about twenty minutes when she heard what she thought were two snowmobiles off in the distance. She had quickly gotten out of sight, but worried that the snowshoes had left marks that would betray her. The snowmobiles never came to the meadow but rather they sounded like they had come from the highway and were headed east toward that “other” town where those bad people were. That town was over a half day’s steady run away; but it would take longer with the snow on the ground.
She believed that the snow was there until spring. Obviously the winter wasn’t keeping the bad guys in their own town. Maybe they were getting low on supplies and desperate.
Moving through the woods, Coon was able to strap the snowshoes across her back, in a way that didn’t interfere with her being able to access the arrows. She was also able to travel quite quickly at a steady run that ate up the ground. By the time she was getting hungry for lunch, she figured she needed to slow down and be more cautious since she was only a few miles away from that town which use to be called Amagon in the old life. Now it seemed to her that a very mean man had control of it.
Finding a sheltered spot under a huge old pine, she pulled her baby b.o.b. around to her front without taking it off. She swept away the snow and pine needles and had a patch of bare ground about two feet square. Then she pulled four smooth rocks out of one of the side pockets that she used for her sling and made a small square with them on the ground. It didn’t take but a moment to get a fire going that was barely bigger than her enamel cup that she pulled from the b.o.b. next. Setting it balanced on the rocks over the fire, she poured some of her water into it. The b.o.b. next produced a few strips of jerky and a handful of dried fruit and a tea bag.
Coon nibbled on the food as she waited for the water to heat. It didn’t take long. She let the tea bag seep for longer than usual because she wanted the tea strong. She had a long afternoon ahead of her.
The spring water was sweet and cold to me. I had been out stalking rabbits to bring home some fresh meat for supper. I had been allowed to hunt on my own now for a few years. I never came home empty handed anymore, like when I was a kid. Even if it was just one squirrel, I stayed out until I was able to bring home something for supper. I never counted any plants I brought home because those were mostly for seasoning or side dishes or herbal remedy.
Poppy always made sure I had my baby b.o.b. He drilled into me to never take it off! One didn’t know exactly what could happen and if I got lost (not likely!), it could save my life! The fanny pack held a lot of things. I had two ways to start a fire, my enamel cup, some dried food, a small first aid kit, an extra bandanna, some really strong but thin string, a small fishing kit that Poppy had put together in an old mint tin, some TP, a compass, and a few other odds and ends. The things that water would harm were in zip lock bags in case (lord forbid!) I fell into a raging river -and was swept downstream in torrid rapids; those things wouldn’t get wet and I could use them after I’d pull myself free of the swirling mad river. (sorry, I can be a bit dramatic sometimes…)
I also had a small pocket wild edible book because I was still learning about the plants in the woods. It was a small notebook that Granny had helped me make. Granny had drawn the pictures with colored pencils and they were life-like. I never had any trouble being able to ID edible mushrooms or plants.
Of course she had sternly cautioned me against eating anything that I wasn’t absolutely positive was safe. What I would do is bring home at least two new plants each time I went out on what I liked to call “my walkabouts” (I had heard that phrase from watching a movie about a guy from Australia who had a HUGE knife, although I forget what the name of the movie was). I would write in the book where I got the plant, a general description of the plant and what kind of habitat it was in and what other plants were around it. I would also write down the day and the weather. Granny would then help me ID the plant and draw a picture of it in my book and then if it was a good one, toss it into dinner somehow.
Granny calls my book a field book and says that it was just plain responsible to keep good notes about what might be good eats! After all, what if you wanted to find the plant again and that one place was the only place around that had it and you didn’t remember where that place was?
If there was only one plant around, I wouldn’t take that one, but I would write about it and check back every now and then to gather seeds from it. Granny loved it when I would bring seeds home. She use to say she liked to be surprised about what would grow; but I’m thinking that she could tell what it was just by the shape of the seed itself! When the seed grew, we would work together to ID it and a picture would go into my book. Plus, I also put any reliable information I found about the plant from the internet and Granny’s books.
I finally realized that I had been daydreaming again when I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. Very slowly I turned my head. Sure enough, there was a rabbit, a soft buff color and I could tell it was a male.
But it looked like dinner to me!