24 November, 2012

24 November 2012

Long hours passed, Juni’s fire burning down to coals and—there being no indication that they were about to leave the spot; she didn’t know where they were, did not know the area and had no intention of setting off without Einar--being revived again, Einar still sitting like stone beneath his chosen spruce tree and sun beginning to sink low in the sky.  Juni was getting hungry, had been getting hungry since sometime early that morning but had, until quite recently, been rather too busy to really notice and certainly too thoroughly preoccupied to do anything about it, but now, sitting nearly dry, relaxed and almost warm beside the fire she had made and maintained while under such duress, the hunger pangs were becoming all but impossible to ignore.  She had brought nothing to eat, had been allowed to bring nothing and, unless he was amazingly good at concealing the fact, neither did it appear that Einar had carried along any food.  Which meant that he certainly had intended them to hunt or trap, for with snow covering everything still, foraging appeared a most daunting prospect.  

Juni glanced around, stared up at the sun and tried to estimate the hours of daylight remaining to them.  Four or five, she supposed.   Enough, perhaps, during which to obtain something to eat, but only if she hurried.  If they did, for Einar had prevented her bringing so much as a length of twine with which to build a snare, and she knew that without his guidance if not his active help, her chances of securing food in the near future were looking pretty bleak.  Somewhat apprehensive about approaching him, she was lent boldness by the growing pit in her stomach, left the fire and stalked to within a few yards of the place where he sat.

“I’m hungry.”



“Snow, it looks like.  Doesn’t appear you’ve got too much else, have you?”

“I was hoping you might…well, you’ve got that atlatl and I saw some cordage we might use to make a snare…”

“Atlatl’s for defense, and that nettle string isn’t for snaring.”

“Why not?”

A silent glare; he wasn’t going to answer that one.  “What do you need to eat for, anyway?  Ate yesterday, didn’t you?”

“For energy, for one thing.  And to keep from freezing.  Right now I’m freezing, and so are you whether you like to admit it or not, and we both need to eat.”

“I don’t.  If you do, there ought to be some usnea on some of these spruces.  Mossy, licheny thing.”

“Usnea?  The stuff Liz uses for Will’s diapers, because it’s so absorbent?”

“That’s the stuff.  Filling, if nothing else.  Fills you up like a stomach full of cardboard.  A little more digestible than cardboard if you cook it for a while, but you can’t do that right now because we’re leaving.  Got more of this mountain to climb before it gets dark.”

“What do you mean you don’t need to eat?  You may not have spent the last few hours down in the bottom of the Granite Pit of Doom getting rained on with melted snow like I did, but you have been sitting out here freezing the whole time.  You’re human.  You need energy, same as the rest of us.”


“That’s not much of an answer.  But it’s all you’ve got, isn’t it?  All you can come up with, because your brain’s slowing down so much from the cold that it won’t give you anything else.  Come on, you’ve got to know better than this.  Is this really what you taught your students when you were running survival courses?  Go until you’re exhausted and then go some more, never eat anything even when it’s available and count on staying warm and alive through sheer willpower, all the while?”

“Basically.  With a few twists added in to make it more challenging.  Life’s no picnic, and if you’re expecting a picnic, you’re gonna fall real short when the real stuff starts.”

“Sure, I understand the need for training to be difficult, and…”

“Do you?”

“No.  Not the same way you do, I’m sure.  Not from the same perspective.  But I’m capable of grasping the concept, yes, and I’m not complaining about the way things have been going so far.  You’re right, of course, about the need for difficulty and for challenge.  I’ll stop asking for something to eat…  But as an ongoing lifestyle, month after month?  Surely you know the way you’re living is not reasonable, not sustainable.  It’s not something you’d teach to your students, is it?  Something you’d recommend?”

“You talk too much.  Better save some of that breath for climbing.”

“You’re not going to answer me?”

“Was there a question?  Because it all sounded like editorial, to me.”

"Yes, there was a question.   I guess I just want to know what makes you think it’s a good idea for you to sit out there freezing instead of taking advantage of the fire, especially when you’re clearly still so far behind on eating.  On nutrition.”

“Oh you talk way too much.  Nobody’s business, things like that.”

“Not even your wife’s business?”

“You’re not my wife.”

“No.  No, I am certainly not.”

Silence for a while as Einar got himself stiffly to his feet, checked to see that he had all his atlatl darts gathered in preparation for leaving.  “Got to keep myself sharp, that’s why.  Minute I get it in my mind that I can relax a little, back off on the training and discipline…well, everything would be lost, that’s what.”

“You really believe that?   I mean, not as a matter of general principle, but literally?”

“Is there any other way?  Besides literally, I mean…”  And she had an answer, wanted to give it but already he was gone, charging off up the steep rockiness of the slope at a speed which she knew she had better try her best to match, lest darkness fall and she spend the entire night searching for his trail amongst the black shadows of the timber…


  1. I left my internet Modem in Eugene, been offline since Tuesday...

    It will be good to do catch up reading!

    Thanksgiving was quiet & personal, but not lonely....

    I had a great steak for the main meal and watched a movie about Mary & Joesph, and their son, our Father's SON, but how Joesph accepted HIM as his son.... ended in Jesus early years.....

    Bless you,


  2. Philip, good to hear that you had a quiet, peaceful time this Thanksgiving. Glad to see you back around here.