09 July, 2011

9 July 2011

Liz very much wanted a fire that evening, both keep the jerky drying through the night and for warmth, as the nights had begun cooling very quickly that past week or so as soon as the sun went down, and finally Einar--having spent a good many minutes outside straining his ears for any distant sign of approaching aircraft, flattening himself on the rocks for a while in an attempt to pick up on the vibrations that had so often warned him of coming trouble--relented, allowing a small blaze with the understanding that it needed to be extinguished well ahead of bedtime, whenever they wanted that to be. He did not intend to take the risk of having both of them going to sleep with a significant heat signature still emanating from the cabin and possibly giving them away in the night, should that chopper or another aircraft come over while they were sleeping. Though she would have liked to bank the fire after cooking, keep it going through the evening and use it to warm the rocks that she wanted to tuck into bed with them that night, Liz was grateful for the few hours’ fire deemed wise by Einar, as they gave her a chance to prepare them a hot meal and thoroughly warm the layer of air up along the sloped cabin ceiling, where the bulk of the jerky would be spending the night.

As the evening went on, Einar’s mind turned more and more to the tarn in the basin, to the training he very badly needed to resume if he was to have much hope of being prepared for winter, himself. The level of adaptation to the cold weather that he had maintained for years took a good bit of work and training, and he knew he needed to find the time to get down there and return to it--either the tarn or the spring; spring was, come to think of it, slightly closer, a good bit colder and far more protected from aerial observation, making it the better spot--if he hoped to reclaim some part of that readiness. Trouble was, he didn’t know how he was supposed to get away from the cabin for that long each day without Liz noticing. Guessed he’d just have to let her know what he was up to, and face the consequences. With which assumption--that there would be dire consequences--he knew he was seriously underestimating her, had, many times in the past, been surprised at just how willing she’d been to make allowance for one plan or another of his, once he’d explained its purpose, and especially if he’d tried to include her in some way. Even the times when he’d possibly had no right to expect her acceptance, let alone her participation--though he’d hardly found himself capable of ascertaining the fact, at the time--such as during his ordeal up at the dead tree on the dropoff, she had gone along and done her best to avoid interfering. That time, he’d been attempting to allay her concerns by being entirely honest about his intentions and even allowing her to participate, but still remained unsure whether or not he’d done the right thing. Well. Regardless, he had to tell her this time, if only because she would soon end up following him and finding out, regardless. She had not tried to prevent his doing such things in the past. No reason to think this time ought to be any different.

Ha! He knew better. It’ll be different, alright. She’s been getting after you just for leaving the cabin since this bit with the ribs, so how do you think she’s going to respond if you just come out and tell her you intend to spend an hour every day freezing yourself in the spring? Rabbit stick will probably come out, at that point… Which was simply a danger he would have to face, and would also have to make certain that his daily training did not interfere with the work he must do each day to help prepare them for winter. Work such as dealing with the mess of chokecherries that currently stood in partially fermented heaps all over the cabin, awaiting attention. Little bit of fermentation won’t hurt anything, but we don’t want it to go too far, not much further than this, actually. Need to get these berries out into the sun to start drying, which will mean one of us standing guard to make sure the ravens and bears don’t come and eat them all up. It’ll be alright, though. I can be berry guard, because there’s no reason at all why I can’t guard berries and work on the parka at the same time, which was to be my main project for tomorrow, anyway

Sounded like a plan. The other part, the bit that involved his heading up to the spring for an hour first thing in the morning…well, he figured it could wait for morning. No sense in giving Liz an entire night to stew on it and dream up ways by which she might prevent him from carrying out his plan, if she found herself so inclined. Which she almost certainly would, he couldn’t help but thinking, the way she was so diligently working to keep him under the bear hide as the evening went on, pulling it back up and over him whenever his restless movements and his reaching for one item or another that he need in his parka-sewing project caused it to fall away, apparently wanting to prevent his starting to shiver and further hurting his ribs. He could only assume that was the reason. Was too tired to ask, and had been since sometime just after supper, when he’d begun drifting unwillingly into a state somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, work sitting unnoticed in his hands for longer and longer periods of time, apparently a good bit more worn out from his long day contending with a poor oxygen supply than he had been at all ready to recognize or admit. Liz, having spent the day working feverishly to get as much of the bear as possible turned into thin strips of drying jerky and herself beginning to feel a bit more each day the demands of the growing child, was weary also, and had joined him sitting there in the bed immediately after cleaning up following their supper of stew. She was thankful simply to find him willing to be still and warm for a while, even if it did come at the price of his appearing only a small step away from unconsciousness, and somewhat frustrated at the fact, as it was interfering with his parka-sewing. The day had been a better one. He seemed, at least, headed in the right direction, to which could be added the very hopeful fact that he had not insisted they abandon the place after the appearance of the helicopter earlier in the day, and had even allowed them a fire that evening about suppertime, if a brief one.

Einar did not remain frustrated for long, as he was soon asleep, Liz rearranging the bear hide one final time, blowing out the candles and joining him in slumber. Though his ribs troubled him greatly in the night, leading to a good bit of restlessness and more than one occasion when he awoke with a feeling of not being able to get adequate breath--never a good way for him to wake, and it took all the willpower he could muster to keep himself still at those times, keep from jumping up and heading outside to spend the remainder of the night alone in the timber, but he did it--Einar managed to get a good bit of sleep that night, more than he’d been able to come up with since getting his ribs mashed by the bear, and he woke somewhat refreshed the following morning, ready to take on the day’s tasks. First of which needed to be hauling the chokecherries out to flat, sunny rocks to begin drying, but before embarking on what promised to be a whole-day project of that nature, he really wanted to get up to the spring for the hour of training he had the day before decided seemed a wise idea. Einar had intended to inform Liz of his intentions, truly had, but when she took off before breakfast to cut an armload of willows for additional jerky racks, he made the fateful decision to head on up to the spring while she was away. At least he left a note…


  1. "Fateful decision"? Wow, that sounds ominous.

    Sounds like things are going to get exciting soon.

    Thanks FOTH.

  2. When I lived in CO this is the kind of place I wanted to live in. Now that I'm retired and can afford it I'm too damn old to live in a remote location. Ain't life great? LOL


  3. Nancy--I hope you'll consider making a trip out here and taking a look at that little house, if you're really interested. It doesn't look so remote--I see electric lines!--and sounds like a pretty good deal.

    It's never too late to head to a better place...