This blog is dedicated to the stories I've written over the years. Sometimes I get some time and add a story. Grab a hot cup of something and enjoy!

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

If You Abuse it, You Lose it. -Twenty Six

Twenty Six

Since she was also hungry, she heated up a small jar of her grandmother’s stew and had a good dinner. Before turning in for the night, she made sure her wind up clock was set for early enough for her to get to the farm before Lady Lizzie and Buster left.

She fell asleep quickly and deeply despite the tea and dreamed of long ago memories until her alarm clock went off at 4 am.

This part of the woods was deep and quiet. I had done like Poppy had said and gone to a place I’ve never been. I figured I was about 50 miles from home. It had taken me almost two days of steady runnin’ to get here….but oh how beautiful it was! I was in what Granny and Poppy both would call a “hangin’ valley”. This was a slim valley that I actually stumbled on when I had decided to follow a small creek to where it began. There were many OLD trees here, these must have been missed during those clear cutting days that went on back in the 40’s and 50’s that Poppy had told me about. I don’t think all four of us could link hands and go around some of these trunks!

I pretty much decided that this would be where I made my base camp. I had so many places to choose from but finally settled on a small place that had an overhang and was still pretty much hidden by trees. The nook wasn’t too deep, only about six feet in and I so I got busy breaking off some of the branches of pine trees to make a wind break and close off part of the nook. Well, I probably would use some of them to make a bed up for me too.

Wow! I couldn’t believe how rich this valley was! I had explored that second day and found so many wild edibles! I also snagged a rabbit for dinner and spotted some grouse that I’ll try for tomorrow; but only for tomorrow; because in two days I am going to begin my quest.

When I had asked Poppy what I was supposed to do during my actual quest time, he did not go into much detail and just gave me the basics….no food, only a few sips of water, and I must keep the fire going. I cannot use my shelter and then he said that “quest” was the beginning of the word “question”. And that’s it! Granny said I would know what to do and when to do it and that there would be NO doubt. Ok, they are trusting me, so I’m trusting them! Besides, I’m not worried, just absolutely DYING from curiosity!!!!!

Today’s the day! I’m well rested and ready. I’ve chosen a spot that I felt was right, I mean I was following a small game trail yesterday back to my little cubby hole and there it was. It was like it called to me. I’ve gathered a LOT of dead fall for the fire, Poppy said that it didn’t need to be big, just it must be kept going.

Did I mention how excited I am?

The night is pretty cold, my blanket of woven reeds just barely keeps me from a deep chill. The fire is pretty low but I’ve kept it fed. I’m so tired! It’s been almost four days, but I’m still trusting, if Poppy and Granny said something would happen, it will!

I didn’t even see him at first, the one who came to share my fire. He was very quiet, just sitting there cross legged like I was. Neither of us talking. I had a small cup I had made from bark by the fire with water in it that I had been sipping from and the man dropped in a small handful of herbs and it began to smell so good! My tummy began to growl! I was embarrassed.

“Sorry about that” I said. He just pointed to the cup and gestured for me to drink. I gently sipped the cup and went to set it back but he motioned again for me to drink.

“All of it?” I asked. He nodded.

So I drank it down and then began to watch the fire despite knowing I shouldn’t be since it ruins night vision.

When I looked up, the man was gone and I felt kinda lonely. My sigh was deep and thoughtful as I wondered who he was. I looked into the bark cup again since I was going to put some more water in it but it was clean! NO herbs at all! Did I just imagine it? My belly wasn’t growling anymore and I was beginning to feel warm inside.

What was goin’ on?

Wow! Where is this burst of energy coming from? I had the strong urge to dance! What the heck? There was no one around to see me dancing around the fire! So I got up and began to dance and hum to a tune I heard in my head. It was totally engrossing. I don’t know how long I danced and hummed but the sun came up and was almost about to set when I fell to the ground by the fire. I had even danced while adding wood to the fire!

I pulled myself back into a sitting position and OH MY GOD! There was the MOST BEAUTIFUL…..and I mean BEEEE-U-TEEEE-FUL Puma sitting on the other side of the fire!

And he spoke to me!!!

“What would you ask of me?” The words came out of the Puma in a sort of growly grumpy kind of tone.

I thought for a few moments, he didn’t look like he minded waiting for me to answer.

Finally I simply answered “Strength to endure the path of my life.”

I swear he smiled!

“What would you give back?” he asked.

I thought again and could only say what came into my head “Protection to the innocent ones.”

I KNOW he grinned this time! I saw those fangs!

“How would you bless an enemy?”

This was a hard one! How does one bless an enemy? I thought and thought and then POP! The answer came into my head! “Love him anyways.”

The Puma got up and sauntered (I always wanted to use that word and believe me, it fits!) over to me and using his right front paw, clawed my left arm!

“You are bound by your own words.” Then he licked my face and was gone!

I just sat there for geeze I don’t know how long. My arm was only slightly bleeding and it didn’t hurt at all.

I thought I was going crazy and imagining things so I did what I thought would be best and began to pray. Of course, as I closed my eyes and bowed my head, I realized that I should have been doing this already!!!

When I opened my eyes again after my hearty “Amen”, it was full dark and the fire had almost gone out. The man was back standing on the other side of glowing coals, he bent down and added a few small twigs to the coals and gently blew until there was a flame again. He then filled my small bark cup with water from a water bag he had at his side and set it back by the flames to heat. He sprinkled another handful of herbs in the water and after it began to steam, dipped a bandana into it and then gently came over and washed the scratches on my arm.

I was completely convinced that I had indeed gone insane! Yet it all seemed so “right” and as it should be. The next thing I knew the man had wrapped me in a white fur and then he spoke one word “sleep.” And sleep I did!!!

The sun was high in the sky when I woke up. The fire was out, not even a hint of a hot coal left. My bark cup was to the side and empty and clean. There was no soft white doe skin covering me. And my arm had four light scars on it, like I had been scratched and it had healed long ago.

I knew I was done with my quest and I had a LOT to think about. And although deep down I did feel differently about myself, I don’t think that I could put my finger on WHY I felt different. And I didn’t kid myself; I knew that I still had a lot to learn!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

If You Abuse it, You Lose it. -Twenty Five

Twenty Five

Coon made good time getting back to her new friends in the woods. And once she led Lady Lizzie and Buster to the farm and introduced them; she slipped back into the woods and headed towards her cave. Since Lady Lizzie and Buster were going to stay at the farm for the night and leave first thing in the morning, Coon wanted to get a few things for them. She especially wanted to get a bottle of the homemade iodine that she had made for Logan’s wounds.

And Coon was ready for some ‘alone time’. This being with people so much was beginning to fray her nerves somewhat.

The cave was cold since the coals had burnt out but it didn’t take long to get another small fire going and a kettle of water on to heat. She was simply dying for some of her granny’s tea. It’s made with equal amounts of roasted dandelion root, chicory, and burdock root; really gives a boost!

“What are we making today, Poppy?” I asked as soon as I saw him getting busy in the “kitchen”.

“I’m gonna make some iodine today, we are getting low and with the way you come home all scratched up sometimes; we need to keep a good supply handy.”

“Can I help?”

“Wouldn’t make without ya, since you use it up the most!”

We both giggled and got to work.

“So this is why we’ve been saving the peeling from our tators!” I exclaimed as Poppy brought out the pan of potato peelings.

“Yep! Also why Granny made you only peel the skins and not get any of the white!”

I remembered that, I had been peeling generously and Granny had gotten onto me about only taking the skins off the tators! Now I know why!

We got some old pickle jars out and layered them into the jars with about ½ inch space to the top. Poppy then poured some of his “medicinal” moonshine into a cup until it was about ¾ of the way full, then he topped that off with some of our pure spring water and let me carefully stir it up. We then carefully poured the liquid over the peelings in the jars; making new liquid when we needed it. We filled up the jars with the liquid and put some saran wrap over the tops.

“Ok Coon, now, it’s gonna be YOUR job to come in here and take off the saran wrap, put on the lids and shake these up two times each day.”

“For how long?” I asked, not because I’d be bored but because I wanted to get to the next step!

“For about 6 weeks. The liquid will get dirty looking. Then we’ll strain through a coffee filter. We’ll keep the starch that will be in the bottom of the jar, but toss the peelings into the compost.”

“Cool!” was all I could say.

If You Abuse it, You Lose it. -Twenty Four

Twenty Four

The next morning, Coon led Lady Lizzie and Buster to the farm. When they were about 1 mile away, Coon said “I think I should go on alone and tell them about you first. Then if they agree, I’ll come back and get you. If they don’t want to talk with you, I’ll still come back and let you know. But I want to make sure it’s ok for you to know where they are.”

“That sounds good to us, we’ll just have some lunch right here, seems like a good spot to stop and rest up abit” answered Lady Lizzie. “We don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable and I know how careful we have to be in these times. Ya don’t want the wrong people to find out where ya live.”

Coon left the two there and quickly made her way to the farm. She did back track a few times to make sure that they were not following her. But she felt her round-about way would be hard to follow anyways.

When she got to the farm, she knocked softly on the back door and Katie was the one to open it.

“Good grief! Where have you been? I’ve missed you SO much! Victoria is great, so don’t worry about her. Come on in, it’s freezing out there.” Katie could carry on.

She pulled Coon into the kitchen, chatting away. Ruth and Glenda were both also in the kitchen and gave Coon hugs too. She wasn’t quite used to being hugged like that, but thought she might be able to get use to it.

“Ma’am’s, I need to talk to ya’all, I’ve met some nice people who would like to come and meet with ya’all and talk some trading.”

“Well now, that sounds like we might want to get the menfolk in here. Where are these people?” asked Ruth.

“Ma’am, they are about a mile or so away and there are two of them waiting, the others went back to their valley. I told them I’d be back to let them know as soon as possible.”

“Ok, Katie run and get your dad and uncle. Coon, you sit down and let me get you something hot to drink. I just made a nice pot of tea, would a cup of that be ok?”

“That sounds wonderful Ma’am.”

It didn’t take but a moment and the men folk were in the kitchen listening to Coon explain what had happened at the town and afterwards. She explained about Lady Lizzie and Logan and their group of people and how they were looking for good people to trade with.

They all laughed when she got to the point of her being caught by Buster and how she got him to let her go.

“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t mention that you know that part of it. I think he is still angry with me for that.” Coon said.

It was agreed that the two traders could come to the farm but they were going to be carefully watched and guarded until they knew they meant well.

Coon finished up her tea and said she would be back with them in about 40 minutes. “But I’d like to go hug Victoria first if that’s ok…” she said.

“Of course it’s ok, she should be up from her nap now anyways, why don’t you go get her for me. That way you can change her diaper!” They all laughed at that and Coon hurried to go see about that little baby girl she was starting to consider as her little sister.

It was gonna be one of those days! I could hear the man loud and clear!

“Jon, you just won’t listen to me! I’m telling ya, there won’t be no way you can get around it! Someone is gonna spill the beans and you’ll be up a creek without a paddle!”

I could just barely make out Poppy’s reply “Manny, we’ve been friends for a long time. You of all people know I won’t be bullied!”

“I know Jon and you know I’m just frustrated FOR you! This is some dab-burned mess and I just want you to be prepared for whatever those pipsqueaks will be tossing yer way! They’ve already begun to re-locate goods in town….’for everyone’s sake’ and it won’t be long before someone tells them where you live and HOW you live. They’ll be here lickety split and take by force whatever they want”

“I’ve been living this way for a long time, and no one is gonna take what’s mine and my wife’s. We’ve got the kids to think about. I’ve the right to protect my family and what’s ours and I won’t hesitate to do so!”

“Jon, I’m not the enemy; but we’ve got to stick together if we are gonna make it through these hard times.”

“I’m just gonna say this once. NO ONE is taking anything of mine! IF I choose to help someone, it will be by MY CHOICE! I won’t be giving up my freedoms! I’ve worked hard, my whole family has worked hard to live with the land and prepare for whatever may happen. I won’t be held accountable because other people are idiots for NOT preparing!”

I am not sure just what I was hearing, but I could tell from Poppy’s tone that he was getting upset with his friend. I think it might be best if I don’t listen anymore and go help Granny!

Granny was making some of her infamous Orange Bread. YUM!

“Granny can I help ya?” I asked her as I skidded into the kitchen.

“If yer done listening to that talk between your Poppy and his friend, you can.”

Geeze, does she catch everything????

“I’m sorry…..I didn’t understand what they were talking about anyways. And I know I shouldn’t have been listening; even though I almost couldn’t help but hear!”

“Ain’t that the truth! Ok, here we go with my momma’s recipe:

Moms Orange Bread

3 c flour
3 t baking powder
1/2 t canning salt
3 orange rinds
1/3 c shredded coconut
1 large brown egg
1 c sweet milk
1 c sugar
3/4 c spring water

Sift together flour, baking powder & canning salt. Add
coconut. Beat the large brown egg and combine with the sweet milk.
Cook orange rind with 1 c spring water & 1 t canning salt until
tender. Drain & cut fine. Cook again in the sugar & spring water
(3/4 c) till rinds are transparent. Cool before using. Add this
orange syrup with the large brown egg & sweet milk mixture to the dry
ingredients and blend well. Bake at 350 degrees F for about an
hour. Bake the day before serving so the flavors will blend. Makes
(1) 9-inch by 3-inch loaf.”

The best thing about helping Granny in the kitchen is that I get to taste test everything! Good thing I am active outside…..or I’d be as big as our house!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

If You Abuse it, You Lose it. -Twenty Three

Twenty Three

The stew was just as good as it smelled. Coon listened and ate while Lady Lizzie fussed over Logan, who was just eaten it up! Anyone could tell that those two were head over heels in love!

It seems that they had to rescue Logan when he got clumsy trying to get a message to one of their spies. When Logan had gotten to the meeting spot, there were the bad guys waiting for him. Seems that those men had just happened to be there and were just as surprised as Logan for showing up. But they knew Logan was wanted by the boss, so they beat the crap out of him and took him in. In a kangaroo court, the boss declared that Logan was guilty of a myriad of charges, from hoarding to stealing goods belonging to the boss. All the charges of course were false, Logan and the others had simply took as much of their own things as they could when they left town. They were fixing to execute him when Lady Lizzie and the others rescued him.

The group had about 47 people total living in what Logan called a “hanging valley” north about 50 miles. They had been circling around to head north when they stopped for the evening to rest the horses and Coon had literally ran into them. They had shelters made in the valley for themselves and the 50 horses that they had managed to scrounge up over the past few months. They also figured they would be snowed in soon. Over the past month, they had gathered enough food for themselves and the horses and were trying to get the last couple of decent people out of town, which they did manage to do.

Coon met everyone and found out that the man she had whacked was called Buster Jones and she would meet every one of his glares that he tossed her way, with an arched eyebrow and smirk that said, “You got what you deserved, you shouldn’t have messed with me.”

Actually Coon began to like everyone in the group as the evening progressed, even Buster. There was Lady Lizzie, Logan, Buster, Frank Burns (who was not the Frank Burns that was in MASH), Mike Kennedy, his brother Mark, Larry Montgomery, Samuel Freeman, and the list went on and on…..Coon just knew she would not remember them all. But she did get to thinking that the Farm might just be able to use some horses so she brought up the idea of some trading with Lady Lizzie.

So a plan was made that Logan and most of the boys would head to the valley in the morning and Coon would take Lady Lizzie and Buster to the Farm to talk trading. Plus Lady Lizzie was hoping that they might get some help cleaning up their town come spring.

I’m so excited! I get to go on my “rite of passage” quest! Poppy and Granny almost didn’t let me go since there was so much crap goin’ on in the world but I’ve promised to be very careful.

I can only take a knife and the clothes on my back, Poppy said that is what the young warriors took when they would go on their vision quest. I’m not quite going on a vision quest, so that is why I call it my rite of passage.

Poppy also said I must go to someplace that I didn’t know. So that means the cave is off limits. And I also cannot go by any people.

Did I mention how excited I am?

I’m leaving now. I’ve hugged Poppy, Granny, and even The Bugger. All I have is some good moccasins on my feet, a warm set of clothes and my new knife that Poppy gave me. I can’t come back until I know it’s time to. Poppy said I will know when to come home.

I was just a tiny bit scared, but both Granny and Poppy seem convinced that things will go well for me. It is awesome to have someone who knows and loves you so much that they have that much trust and confidence in you! I am SO incredibly blessed!

If You Abuse it, You Lose it. -Twenty Two

Twenty two

A single gunshot, then the horse the cowboy was on lunged forward. The shot had cleanly cut that rope and the cowboy’s horse lunged towards the man. At least 20 other horses with riders came out of NO WHERE and surged through the square allowing the first cowboy to cut the rope binding the man’s hands and swing him up behind. They were off in a flash. Gun shots sounded back to Coon and she watched amazed at the actions playing out before her. And then it was over. Only a few moments had passed. She noticed five men were down in the square but all the horse riders had fled the town and were headed west…towards her.

It was about five minutes before the town sent anyone out to try to follow the riders but they were on foot and Coon didn’t think they would be able to catch anyone….unless it was her, so she hightailed it out of there.

The riders had been headed straight for the place where she was watching everything but veered south through the woods about half way to her. She wasn’t too concerned about running into them since she was on foot but she also didn’t want those men from town to come up behind her so she struck off in a southwesterly direction, hoping that neither party would go directly that way. She wasn’t quite half way home when she thought about stopping for the night. It had been dark for close to three hours and she had wanted to get as much distance between her and the town as possible. She hadn’t seen anyone on her back trail and since that is where most of her attention had been focused, she was taken by surprise when she literally ran right into the riders camp. “CRAP”! She thought as she tried to keep running right on through. But she was caught by a big man who simply plucked her right up!

A fast knee to the crotch and then a hearty whack with her bow had her free almost as fast as she was caught. She whirled away and around with her Grandfathers knife now in her right hand.

A commanding voice was heard “Ok, let’s all just calm down. We won’t hurt you girl, so you can relax.” This allowed Coon to locate who was speaking and again she was amazed once again that it was a woman who had spoken. Everyone had come to their feet but no one was approaching Coon except the lady who spoke. When she got about five feet from Coon, she stopped and looked down at her.

Coon thought that lady had to be six feet tall as she tipped her head up to look into her eyes as she spoke.

“Well, aren’t you just as quick as a cheetah? We didn’t even know anyone was around until you were half way through our camp. Where did you come from?”

Coon just stared at her, as she took in the details of the tall lady dressed….like a cowboy. It just dawned on Coon that THIS was the cowboy! She had long black hair that was braided and hanging across her shoulder. She had brilliant blue eyes that had deep intelligence shining back and since she stood directly in front of her with her hands on her hips and the duster pulled back, Coon could see a whip clipped at her side along with a pair of guns….she really looked like a real cowboy.

“Ok, let me introduce myself and these no good loafers around us. I’m called Lady Lizzie and these here are mostly my brothers but also a few of their friends. And that lazy bum over by the fire is my best friend and husband, Logan. The lady pointed over at the man that was now better dressed and laying by the fire. Coon could see that he had been badly beaten because one of his eyes were swollen almost shut. “We had to get his sorry butt out of a bit of a jam today.”

“Now I can promise you that we won’t harm you. Right fellas?” she shot over her shoulder as she glared at the guys. A few comments about not being able to harm a fly and how they were gentlemen had Coon scoff a bit. That had Lady Lizzie’s attention back on her real quick!

“What? You don’t believe us?”

Coon just kept her mouth shut. The lady’s eyes narrowed a bit as she stared hard at Coon. “Did you see us rescue my husband today?” Coon just nodded her head once.

“Well, you sure did cover some distance on foot. Is there anyone following you?” Coon shook her head.

“She must be mute.” Croaked the man who had suffered her knee in his groin as he was getting onto his feet, barely; he didn’t know which hurt worse: his head or groin. Coon just kept a close watch on everyone she could and her knife out.

Lady Lizzie watched Coon watch everyone and then said “You can go or you can stay and get to know us better. You’d be under my protection and no one will hurt you. I’d like to talk with you, if you’re willing and see if we could exchange information about the goings on in the world. Plus, I’m hungry and the smell of that stew over there is about to drive me crazy. So will you eat a meal with us and give us a chance to prove we are the good guys?”

Coon wanted to bolt so badly, but the lady seemed sincere and she had seen the group kill at least five of the town’s people who she knew to be bad. And that stew did smell wonderful and she was hungry. She also figured that if they were going to kill her, they would have already done so since they all had guns; even the man, Logan, by the fire.

Coon nodded her head once.

“Will you never just shut up?” I yelled at my little brother. He was simply driving me crazy! “Poppy says that silence can be golden, why don’t you listen to him and BE QUIET!!!”

It was hopeless and I decided to just go outside and going walking in the woods. That brat had been bugging me since breakfast to play some stupid video game with him and he knows I hate those things. GEEZE! He just kept on saying how he designed this game and it would help learn tracking better and blah blah blah blah blah!

I couldn’t get it through his head that I didn’t want to play no stupid game.

I was only about fifty feet into the woods when Poppy met up with me. We walked along for about ten minutes together before he spoke up.

“Don’t you think you were a bit harsh with your brother?” he asked.

Crap I thought….now I’m in for it. I decided that as usual, the blunt honest approach would be best for me “Poppy, I just don’t like video games and he is always pestering me to play this one or that one.”

Poppy nodded his head in understanding but his next words made me feel so guilty that I almost began to cry. “Real love is when someone asks you to do something you don’t really want to do and you do it anyways.”

I stopped walking and looked at Poppy with hurt in my eyes. But he was firm and said “If you think those words hurt you, how do you think YOUR words hurt your brother?”

I could tell he wasn’t done talking yet so I just stayed still and listened.

“Coon, sometimes there are times when you should speak and sometimes there are times when you shouldn’t speak. Let your actions show you to be honorable.” And then he slipped away into the woods and I turned back towards home to go make peace with my little brother and see what his new game was all about.

If You Abuse it, You Lose it. -Twenty One

Twenty One

The sun seemed weaker here on this ridge looking down into the valley that the small town was in. Coon had been watching it for just about two hours and had seen no one out beyond the closely packed buildings. It looked like everyone that lived there was out and about busy doing this and that all right around the buildings.

There looked to be a couple of larger green houses going up but it seemed like the most activity was around the town square. Wishing for a pair of good binoculars, Coon slowly made her way to another point on the ridge that would hopefully give her a better view.

She carefully looked for any human tracks as she made her way closer to the town. She had barely gotten settled in when there was some real excitement!

Someone was approaching the town from the north on horseback. Coon watched as the person was challenged about 200 yards outside of town. She had spotted the two men who stepped in front of the horse, when she first got to the ridge. There were two more on the south side of town. No one, it seemed, was watching on the east or west sides. Which might have made sense since there were no roads going out of town there, but she was on the west side and thought they were either careless or there was someone there but just better at hiding.

After a couple of minutes, the two men let the rider go on into town. Coon watched as the rider slowly made his way to the town square. The rider reminded her of the cowboys she would read about in Louis LaMour’s books.

With a shudder, she realized what was going on down there. They were fixing to hang someone. By the time that the “cowboy” got to the square, there was a man being brought out of one of the buildings and it looked like all he had on was a pair of pants. No shirt, no shoes. He was led to a huge oak tree where a rope had been tossed over a large branch. Coon could tell the second that the man noticed the cowboy, his whole body seemed to relax and although he was far away, she would have sworn he grinned. She watched as he tossed his head back and actually laughed!

The laughter didn’t stop the rope from being put around his neck and just when about five of the people from the town got a good grip on the rope’s other end and began to pull, when all heck broke loose!

I think Poppy is plum upset! I’ve never seen him chop wood quite so violently. No way was I going out back. I could hear the whacks of the ax even down in the cellar where I was helping Granny update our supply list. She is very organized, it would be amusing if it wasn’t so tedious!

“Granny, what is Poppy so upset about today? Did I do something wrong? Or The Bugger?”

“Oh no sweetie, you both have been absolute angels!” (see, she DIDN’T know about the deer hide in her tub! YES!) “Poppy just isn’t liking what he is hearing on the TV lately and although I’ve told him to stop watching it, he insists on watching every single bad story out there lately. I think that this years presidential election debates are what has him in a tizzy today. Ever candidate is trying to hang the others out to dry. Although it could be any other story out there. Now how many jars of peaches do we have left?”

“I counted 25 here but we do have five up in the pantry; but are not counting those, right?”

“That’s right honey. Ok, now if we can check the onions, we’ll be done down here and we can start a batch of chocolate chip cookies….that might be enough to snap your Poppy out of his mood.”

It was.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

If You Abuse it, You Lose it. -Twenty


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!

If You Abuse it, You Lose it. -Nineteen


She was able to make good time to her cave; she was going to go hunting but with the actions of those men and then the sound of the plane, she changed her mind. She knew she had about a dozen rabbits skins, a nice fluffy squirrel tail, and a couple pieces of doe hide left over from the last deer she had hunted last fall; so she decided to grab those and use them for the sling shot lessons for the other kids. She wasn’t sure if she could teach as well has her grandfather had taught her but decided that she wouldn’t mind at least trying.

The fire she had banked when she left sprang to life with little effort and in no time the cave was warm and cozy. She took her time deciding just what she would take with her. She figured she would be at the farm for many days and she didn’t want to be a burden or use up their precious supplies of anything.

After careful consideration, she had a small pile of food stuffs that she thought they might be able to use: some spices, tea mixes that she had gathered last year for winter colds, coughs, and aches. She also had a five pound bag of salt set in the pile. She had all the tools she would need for the sling making, not that there were many. She would use her grandfather’s knife to cut the pieces and the old hole punch he had given her years ago so she could tie the cords to the stone holder. She also had an oval stone that fit in the palm of her hand that she used to work the leather pieces which would help make it more supple. She would help the girls find similar stones.

The hides she had would be perfect for learning how to cut out slings. After they got the hang of it, she would go hunting and get a fresh deer and show them the fine art of brain tanning. Deer hide worked great for moccasins. She let out a giggle thinking about how they would react when she had them work the brains into the hide. She sure hoped they wouldn’t be so grossed out that they wouldn’t want to learn!

The deer hide was stretched taut on the wooden frame and Poppy was showing me the firm even strokes that worked the hide evenly. Although I thought that using the brains was pretty gross, I had to admit they worked great! We had not let the skin dry completely before we began working the brains into the skin. Poppy says that the more brains you work into the skin, the softer it will be.

He said something about how heat from the friction helped also.

“Poppy, do we work the brains into the fur side also?” I asked.

“No Coon, we just work this side. That shampooing we gave the hide earlier will help the fur. But this is really the best way to fix skins. After we get done with the brains, we will clean it off and then smoke it so bugs won’t bother it and so when it gets wet, we can soften it up again easily. Now keep your strokes even, and don’t push down too hard.”

“Do you think I’ll be ready to do my own hide from the skinnin’ to the wearin’ myself someday?”

“I dare say honey, you’ll be makin’ some fine foot wear before this time next year, I’m thinkin’!”

The steady movement and the good company made the work go fast and it seems like just moments and we were getting the fire going and while we were waiting for the fire to burn down to just a smoky bed of coals, we not only cooked deer steaks for dinner, we also set up the bricks that would hold the frame just above the hot coals, just right so the skin was smoked but didn’t get too hot.

The steaks were delicious and the hide soft and supple when we were done. Poppy let me present it to Granny with much flair and I could tell she thought it wasn’t a half bad job! I don’t think she ever found out we used the bathroom tub to wash the hide in.