Having enjoyed the productive but somewhat quiet progression of the morning, Liz was not particularly anxious to venture out in all that fresh snow and spend the remainder of what had with the departure of the storm turned into a bitterly cold day searching for the buried remnants of the trapline and bringing it back to life, but Einar seemed set on it, and she supposed the job had got to be done, sooner or later. The fresh meat provided by the trapline represented a valuable supplement to the dried and frozen meat they had stored, would stretch it further as the winter went on and give them some variety in their diets, in addition to a useful supply of small pelts. She worried though, watching Einar come in with his armload of wood and struggle to stomp the snow from his boots without losing his balance and ending up sprawled out on the floor, about his ability to physically complete that walk. Legs were still terribly swollen, and though he asserted that only exercise would help bring down the swelling--she didn’t agree, but that was neither here nor there--it was plain that walking brought with it a significant amount of pain, both because of the swelling in his feet and the apparent weakness of the leg muscles, themselves.
The idea of making that trapline walk seemed to be asking for disaster in so many ways--frostbitten toes and feet due to poor circulation and constriction when he forced them into the boots, repeated falls in the deep snow when his legs refused to support him as he might expect and eventually, if he wasn’t careful--which he wouldn’t be; the troubles would only cause him to push himself harder--exhaustion and collapse two or three miles from home and with temperatures plummeting for the night the way they so often did immediately after the breakup of a storm such as the one they’d had. He’d die out there, die trying to crawl home or, knowing him, attempting to finish the trapline despite his condition. Liz found the prospect frightening. Terrifying, actually, though she wouldn’t have wanted him to know it. Seemed that the nearer approached the baby’s time, the more she wanted stability, certainty, and such things were simply not within reach many times, in the life they’d chosen to live. Which she’d known all along, so had no real cause to complain, now. And besides, Einar wouldn’t die out there on the trapline, not this time, because she’d be with him, wouldn’t let it happen. Would clear a spot on the ground and build a big fire if he ended up unable to go further, spend a cold but fully manageable night out there with him under the trees; they’d done it many times in the past, and could do it again.
Resigned to the certainty of making the walk Liz began preparing, pulling her parka and Einar’s down from their hanging pegs and laying out the woven rabbit blanket, dry socks--their last pair each; when those were gone they’d have to begin wrapping their feet in rabbit skins for warmth within their boots, either that, or she would need to hand-spin every bit of the mountain goat wool they’d collected that summer up on the high ridges and hope it might prove enough to knit or crochet into socks for the two of them--water and packets of food, Einar hobbling over to the bed where he stood watching her.
“Looks like you’re preparing for a major expedition, there. I was just gonna go run the trapline real quick…”
A moment of weakness, anger, she wanted to tell him, that is a major expedition in your condition, which would be plain as day to you if you were thinking halfway straight, and I’m just trying to see that you have some chance of coming back from it, that’s what I’m doing! Figured she’d be doing them both a disservice by continuing to be so angry about it, silent, better to speak, and she did. “I’m getting us ready to spend the night out there.”
“The night? What do you want to do that for? Gonna be a mighty cold night out there, storm having just moved out and all. Figure you’d probably sleep better here in the cabin, unless there’s something you know that I don’t.”
“I know that you can barely make it to the woodshed right now with your feet all swollen up like that.”
“Aw, walk’s only gonna help with that. I just need to get moving, be active and this’ll go down. I may be a little slow, but it’s not gonna take us all night to walk that trapline!”
“Being on your feet won’t make the swelling go down.”
“Well then, I’ll just live with it. Ought to help my boots stay on, if nothing else.”
“You’re going to lose the rest of your toes. Let’s wait on the trapline, give it one more day.”
“Day’s not gonna change anything. Got to work with what I have.”
“It might change some things if you’d actually lie down and rest for a while. Put your feet up, take the weight off of them.”
Einar laughed, the concept striking him as somewhat humorous--haven’t got much weight on them in the first place, and you know I don’t lie down during the day unless I’ve got absolutely no choice at all--but he could see from the look on Liz’s fact that she hadn’t at all been joking, was somewhat distressed at his laughter. Probably thought he wasn’t taking her seriously, which he wasn’t, but only because he hadn’t realized she might be serious. Mistake. Better try and find a way to fix it. Didn’t want to put off the trapline run, but supposed it wasn’t such an urgent thing, not if she was so very set on staying. There were other ways he could keep himself moving.
“Ok, let’s wait. Another day won’t hurt anything. Will give the snow time to settle, and me time to put together a second pair of snowshoes that’ll work a little better than the spruce branches I was gonna tie to my feet when we went. That’ll make the trip go smoother. And we can finish the door, get the tunnel opened up and operational, lots of things we can do around here, still.”
While expecting Liz to be pleased, he was not at all prepared for what happened next, which involved her launching herself at him and grabbing him about the neck, an action which very nearly resulted in a swift and unfortunate response from Einar, who managed to hold himself back and keep still only with the greatest difficulty.
“Thank you! I really, really think that’s the right decision! We’ll stick around here for the day, get the door and snowshoes done and I’ll fix you a great big supper that we wouldn’t have had time to do if we were tromping through the snow all day, and the trapline will still be waiting for us out there tomorrow when we get up all ready to head out.”
Einar nodded, squirming a bit in Liz’s embrace and suddenly needing very badly to have a bit of space around him, some room to breathe. She got the message, released him and he shuffled back until he was leaning on the door, fighting to keep himself from pushing it open and dashing out. “Guess if I’d known just how keen you were to stick around here for the day, I might have said something sooner. Just figured we’d head out as soon as the storm quit, but tomorrow’ll do just fine. Guess I’d better uh…be finding some willows for those snowshoes I need to make. Think we’ve got some out behind the woodshed, still. Be right back.”