The rest of the summer turned into fall and Trina kept scavenging around town. She also kept gathering wood for the fireplace for the winter. She wasn’t sure how much she would need so she just kept cutting and stacking it up in the garage. She had pushed her car out of the garage and off to the side of the driveway since she figured she wouldn’t be using it anytime soon.
It seemed to be getting cooler quicker but she wasn’t sure of the date anymore. She decided to watch the sun and mark on the west wall that surrounded the property, where it set each evening, then when the days began to get longer she would know that the winter solstice had past and that would give her the date of around December 21 or 22. At least she would be in the right month!
Gas for the truck had been no problem since she found a small hand siphon/pump that she used to gather diesel for it. At least she knew the difference between the two types of fuel but she did wonder how long gas lasted. She also moved many books from the library and the garden center for advice on gardening and simply for pleasure. She began telling time by where the sun was outside, unless it was overcast and raining. She remembered reading somewhere that the ancient Native Americans would use their hand width and that each hand width was equal to about 15 minutes. So for four hand widths each afternoon, she wrote her stories, the rest of the day was filled with chores and scavenging.
She also kept track of the number of days from the time she came out of the basement. She figured she would be able to figure out just how long she had been in the basement. The snow came and it was heavy and deep. Trina was thankful that she had put the small greenhouse so close to her back porch since she was trying to grow just a few fresh veggies in. But it was clear that it was soon going to be too cold to keep growing anything since she had no way to keep it warm. She already had closed off most of the house and was sleeping in the living room. She left the water tricking full time in the bathroom and the kitchen because she was terrified of frozen pipes. She also began to worry about not having enough wood, even though she had only gone through a small amount.
Finally the year’s shortest day came and she realized after a few calculations that she had been in the basement for almost three months and back out for five. That made it almost eight months since the bombing and she hadn’t seen one other human that was alive.
Now she began to think that she maybe she should go out into the world and see if she could find other people out there. It was only logical that if she survived, that there would be others. But she had no clue which way to go and she did not want to run into any mean people. “Besides, I need to start my garden in the spring and the plants in the greenhouse before that. I simply won’t have time to go looking for others. And besides, I don’t mind being alone anyways.”
The winter days passed pretty quick for Trina with her days filled with her reading up on how to do new things besides gardening like how to crochet, can the food she hoped to grow in her garden if she could find some way to do the actual canning, and even how to repair and keep up the truck that was now sitting in her driveway. It was a good thing that she liked to learn new things. Maybe if she could hook up a propane cooker for her canning…. Another trip to the garden center to look over the possibilities would be in order when spring comes around.
Her notebooks were also filling up with wonderful stories that were of a wide variety of topics from fantasy to horror to humorous. She had begun a journal of the things she was learning and doing during what she began to call “after the reboot of the world”. She was seeing all kinds of animals both around her home and even in town. She began to worry about a pack of dogs that she saw through the gate that seemed to be roaming around the town. They looked hungry and mean. She counted 15 dogs in that pack.
Once in the middle of the night, she was awaken by loud growling and she thought that the pack had found its way into her yard. Grabbing a flashlight and stuffing her feet into her slippers, she pulled on her coat and grabbed the poker by the fireplace. She slowly opened the front door and could just barely make out glowing eyes at the end of the driveway where the gate was closed. The whole pack of dogs was at her gate and clawing at it and scratching at the driveway like they were trying to dig their way under the gate. They were barking and growling and scared the crap out of her! A quick movement in the yard had her jumping and swinging the flashlight around, thinking that one of the dogs had made it into the yard; but it was a rabbit that they had chased that had found refuge in her yard.
It was then that she decided she needed to get a gun. One she could shoot from far away, those dogs needed to be taken out. As soon as it was fairly nice out and most of the snow melted, she made another trip to town and picked up a few rifles and a handgun. She took everything she thought she would need including books from the library on how to shoot and load. She also noticed that the buildings were showing their neglect and she began to realize that the things in town might not last forever.
That night, she began her lists. Lists of things that her home would need to be maintained, what things she would need for her gardens and greenhouse, the truck needs, clothes for herself especially since she was still losing weight and gaining muscle. She had made a trip for new clothes just before the major snows came but she would need other clothes in a smaller size sooner rather than later.
Her lists included canning jars and lids and some kind of stove she could can on. One of the books she had taken from the garden center had an outdoor kitchen in it and she thought that would be a very good idea, she could build it behind the garage. It was only for a few minutes that she thought she could not do it; but she had been building up her confidence over the past months and realized that if she was careful and took her time; she could learn and do most anything. So the outdoor kitchen was going to have to be thoroughly planned out as a major summer project.
There was just so much to think about! Almost too much! She needed to keep things simple, if that was even possible! She sat down heavy on the couch and picked up one of the books she had brought from the library. It was “Stalking the wild Asparagus” by someone named Euell Gibbons. She briefly wondered if he was alive somewhere and out stalking his asparagus. She built up the fire in the fireplace and settled in front of it and began to read and really began to have her eyes open.
Foraging for food, wild edibles, grown without human help, free… “But I don’t know what kinds of wild edibles grow around here!” she was troubled, but not for long.
It seems that another trip to the library was in order for books on native plants and how to identify them. She read late into the night and managed to grab a couple hours of sleep but was very excited about what she was learning from the book and could hardly wait to go out and explore the woods back behind her home and that surrounded the town.
She had been practicing her shooting and even though her days seemed to be filled up with the chores in the greenhouse and around the house she began to go out into the woods each afternoon and try to identify the wild plants that were beginning to peek out of the melting snow. It wasn’t time to plant anything into the beds yet but in another couple weeks she was going to transplant the cole crops she had started in the greenhouse.
It wasn’t long before she began to experiment with some fiddleheads and batter that she made up. Since it was so nice out, she decided to cook on the grill outside. She usually cooked in the fireplace since there was no gas to her stove anymore, she had made sure that the shut off valve was closed since she didn’t want any surprises…just in case. She wondered if she would be able to move one of those wood stoves to her home, they looked very heavy.
Slowly over the late winter and early spring as the earth warmed, she added to her list of known plants as she learned how to ID them. “Why I have a huge banquet of edibles growing around here!” she exclaimed with delight. Trina was still going to plant her garden and even had a few ideas about something she had read about called guerilla gardening.
It was on a warm late spring day that she finally had all the plants planted that she had started in the greenhouse. Every bed was filled and she had even cleared the small patch of grass and weeds between the greenhouse and back porch for an herb garden. She was proud of that since it had taken a whole week to do with its little pathway wandering through it. She had found the design in one of her books from the library. There were also several guerrilla gardens here and there. There were still plenty of seeds left over so she stored them down in the basement in an air tight bucket.
It was as she was wiping the sweat from her brow and grinning to herself for a job well done, that she heard gunshots coming from town.