There were no problems as Coon made her way to the farm the next morning. Not too many were up, just Lady Lizzie, Buster and Ruth. Coon thought about asking if she could go with them, but since she didn’t have a horse, she knew they would travel much faster without her. She was glad that it seemed like they all got along real well.
After waving farewell, Ruth asked Coon to come on in and get warmed up. A few moments later she had a hot cup of tea in her hands that she was sipping on.
“Coon, have you given any more thought to staying here instead of your cave?” Ruth asked.
Coon sipped some more tea before answering “Yes ma’am I have and I think I’ve come up with something that might work. I’d like to come and stay for four or five days so I can begin to teach Katie and the other girls the skills I’ve promised to teach them. And then for about four or five days, I can go hunting …if I can find game and stay in my cave. I just have all my things there and I don’t really want to move them. I’m not even sure if I should since they are safe there and won’t freeze or anything.”
Ruth got a thoughtful look on her face and with a small sigh said “Well, I guess I can’t make you stay since you are obviously quite capable of taking care of yourself. I can’t promise to not worry about you though! I gotten quite fond of you and I don’t mean just because you’ve brought us Victoria but because you are very special and sweet! And you do seem very determined to make your way, which I commend and find to be a great quality. I think that no one will mind with what you’ve proposed. We just want to make sure that you are safe and taken care of and sometimes us adults think we have to be the ones whose job it is to do that.”
Ruth sighed loudly and then grinned.
“Coon honey, you just keep being yourself and we will try to remember that you’ve more than proven yourself an adult, even if you are just 14 years old!”
“Drink your tea up and we’ll go check on Victoria.”
Coon grinned big and drank down the hot tea.
The winter passed fairly quiet until Coon started teaching the girls how to use the bows she made for them. Ruth and Glenda both banished them to a far pasture after a few arrows somehow made their way into a couple of pieces of clothing that were hung out on the line. From the other side of the house!
What could the girls say but that the warm wind and bright sunlight carried those arrows where they weren’t suppose to be!
Coon was surprised to find out that all the kids were also learning how to shoot and that Katie and Tommy were sharpshooters. She also found out that the people on the farm were responsible for the planes that she had heard. They were helping out other small groups of people and locating other supplies. They were also the ones who were helping to get the town resettled with many who they had found.
That’s also when they learned how Coon had gotten her nickname. When she was just a toddler, her Grandfather had plopped an old coon skin cap on her head and she refused to give it back. For months she would wander around the farm proclaim that she was “coon”. They started calling her that and the name stuck.
The adults pretty much left the girls to their own devices after seeing that Coon was a responsible teacher and after a few months, the boys got a few lessons also. Mostly by the girls playing tricks on them and making the learning into games: the boys against the girls. Since Coon was always on the girls’ team, they usually won.
There was a time that the farm did worry about Coon because she was gone for almost two weeks.
But she had been giving care to a small group of service men who had walked from the coast to get home. She had done all she could for them, they needed some warm clothes and solid food. She had hunted and managed to get two deer and dug through the snow to find some edible plants. She also helped some of the stronger ones make a shelter that would keep most the cold out. There were 11 men and 2 women and Coon had watched them for two days before approaching them. She saw that they treated the women with respect and each other with dignity, helping those who were sick.
Coon had finally HAD to come back to the farm because the farm was closer than her cave and she had run out of the herbs in her medicine bag. Also the small group was doing much better with the warmer shelter and hot food. It was only when she felt they were in fair shape that she left them and went to the farm.
Ruth and Glenda were just starting to get a hot supper together when Coon knocked on the back door. She wasted no time explaining what happened and that she thought that the soldiers really needed to NOT spend another night in the cold since from what she could tell it was going to dip way below freezing that night.
It didn’t take long to decide that Clark would take a truck with a trailer hitched to it and he and Coon would go retrieve the soldiers. Glenda got Katie and Kelley to gather up some blankets and Ruth filled all their thermoses with hot coffee.
Clark, Coon, and Shane were on their way within 30 minutes of Coon knocking on the door.
The soldiers were in a sorry state with all of them worn down from the long walk they have been on. Their feet had sores and blisters with some minor frost bite. With some good food and plenty of rest most should have recovered beautifully. There were four with pneumonia but everyone was hoping they would pull through.
The soldiers had been on a submarine that was out to sea when the balloon went up and since they couldn’t get in contact with anyone, it was decided that they would make port in a harbor that was central to all their homes yet not too big. They then split up in groups with all the supplies divided up between them. They had been walking ever since.
They hadn’t salvaged much of anything along the way because they had been trying to get home as quickly as possible but the early and harsh winter had really caught them off guard. They voted to keep going and only stopped when they were desperate for food or to take shelter wherever possible when storms hit.
The single ladies in town came and helped and by spring, there were a few more weddings to celebrate. It was in just such a celebration that FEMA showed up.
Coon was feeling restless and tied down. Not that she regretted being on the farm as much as she had been, but she was getting the itch to travel.
Victoria was blossoming under the love of her new parents and they loved her like she was their own.
Coon had also taught Rhea, Katie, and Kelley (and the boys) many of the skills of the woods. They could now track really well, were good shots with their bows and their slings, and could do some hand to hand fighting. Coon had went ahead and made the bows first since she thought that the bow was easier for her to learn when she was younger. The girls were on their second bows, the ones they had made for themselves. The boys were still working on theirs. Mostly the young ones just needed to keep practicing. She had also shown Ruth and Glenda how her Grandmother had made soap and lotions. All in all, they had managed to keep the winter’s months full.
Now that spring was trying to wake nature up, although a tad late; Coon was ready to go and plant her gardens, well one might not call them real gardens since she planted many vegetables and greens all over the woods where the sunlight peeked through more than usual. She had about 30 pounds of potatoes she wanted to plant also.
Coon, Katie and Kelley were trying to convince the adults to let them all go and do the planting and get in some overnight camping experience and living off the land. They were having a hard time convincing the “mom’s”.
Coon was leaving on Friday, after the latest wedding, so the girls were starting to get desperate and coming up with all kinds of schemes to get their mom’s to let them go.
“I know if mom could just see how well I can take care of myself, she would let me go”. Said Katie.
“Tell me about it, my mom keeps saying I’m too young! blah, blah, blah! Geeze, I feel like an adult! Times have changed so much, none of us are kids anymore…well, except Victoria that is” replied Kelley.
“So why not show them?” asked Coon quietly.
Both girls looked at Coon and waited for an explanation.
“Well, I think you’ll do fine. My grandfather had already considered me an adult since I had gone on my quest. So I think you should show your parents that you are adults and capable of handling yourselves.”
“Do you mean like show them what we’ve learned?” Asked Katie.
“Yes, see my grandfather would teach me, but then I had to make myself practice and use those skills. He never bugged me or nagged me. But he would ask me questions and try to catch me off guard. Sometimes I would have to think about his questions for a week or more! But he never asked the same question twice and never got impatient with me and if I got the answer wrong, he would simply encourage me to try again. And I know he would watch me practice and when I first began to go into the woods by myself, I’m sure he shadowed me. I could never catch him, and believe me I tried; but I could feel him near. And sometimes he would leave a small gift at my fire when I would be away from it.
“Your parents are different and do not view life like my grandfather did. Why don’t you SHOW them that times have changed and the skills you are learning will help you?”
“Wow! That’s sounds like a great idea!” exclaimed Katie.
Kelley replied “yeah, we can really freak them out! Let’s do it!”
It didn’t take long for the three girls to come up with a plan. Ruth and Glenda did not know what was going to hit them very soon.