10 July, 2013

10 July 2013

Where I spent last night:

No other humans up there, but I did see these elk mothers and their very young calves...


Waking slowly, chilled, despite their closeness and the relative warmth of the mine in comparison to the stormy world outside, by the dampness of the mine, Liz had to reach over and search for a pulse on Einar, finding his skin cold to the touch.  No sooner had she laid a hand on him, however, than her fears about his continued presence in this life were rather rapidly dispelled, Einar reaching up and grabbing her wrist with a force which took her somewhat by surprise.

“Ok, it’s Ok.  I was just seeing if you were keeping warm enough, over there.”

“What did you hear?”

“Nothing.  Hey, settle down.  Didn’t hear anything, just woke up.  I think it’s morning.”

Einar stretched in the darkness, limbs stiff and not particularly willing to assume positions different to those in which they had passed the night, but he kept at it, eventually managing to gain his knees.  One hip felt pretty badly bruised, the result, he supposed, of a number of hours spent immobile on his side on the fir bough bed, but he ignored the hurt, pulled himself to his feet.

“Didn’t mean to sleep so long.  Better go have a look outside.”

“I’ll come with you.  Just give me a minute to feed Will, because he doesn’t seem to want to wait.”

Einar grunted his assent, but did not sit back down.  Too much effort to get up again, and his head felt heavy, limbs dragging, not much there with which to put out such an effort.  Wished they had some food.  Liz needed it in order to be able to go on producing adequate milk for Will, and he sure would have eaten some himself, had it been available.  Which struck him as somewhat strange, little as he’d cared about such things over the past months.  For himself, at least.  He’d always been diligent to see that there was enough for Liz and Will.  Didn’t know what had precipitated the change, and was too hungry to do a lot of contemplating on the matter, just then.  Something about their conversation before sleeping, he supposed, though he felt strange now thinking about that conversation, at all.  Not a subject he would have chosen, but what was done was done.  Only, it probably wasn’t done.  She had not seemed done.  The two of them had just fallen asleep, cutting short the discussion.  Well.  He shivered.  Maybe the rest could go unsaid.

Though unable immediately to procure food, Einar could do something about their lack of water, and he did it, taking a long drink from the growing puddle of drip water accumulated atop the tarp and offering some of the same to Liz, who drank thirstily. 

“Ready to head up to the world and check things out?” 

“Yes.  Will’s all done.”  Which, though she tried to conceal the fact, Einar knew was not due to the little one’s having had enough to be satisfied.  Bad news.  Maybe, he thought to himself, with the storm to cover his movements against any ongoing federal surveillance of the place, he could slip out of the mine and snare them a rabbit or squirrel, find a grouse bedded down in the heavy timber and spear it, take it with a hastily improvised bola made from some of the cordage around his waist, and three or four rocks…   Mouth watering at the thought of such a feast—even if eaten raw and cold while huddled beneath a garbage sack in a leaky mine alcove—he moved along a bit more quickly towards a dim but growing light that seeped in from outside.

A hope which was quickly dashed as they neared the entrance.  Both Einar and Liz knew they were in trouble even before they were near enough to see out, brightness of the light outside announcing without question the passing of the storm, nothing to cover their tracks; they were, for the time, trapped.

*  *  *
Alone again in the big house with the departure of their federal visitors, Bud and Susan were quiet for some time, ticking of the big grandfather clock, crackling of a log in the fire and the gusting of the wind outside the only sounds, neither wanting to be the first to speak.  Only two men had entered the house and Bud had kept a sharp eye on them the entire time, so he knew it was safe to speak, house not bugged, but still, neither of them had any words.  Bud finally broke the silence. 

“Guess they’re probably way up the hill by now.  And with nobody looking…ought to make it.”

Susan didn’t answer.  They both knew why.  Bud threw up his hands, sat down heavily on one of the dining room chairs.  “Well, what do you want me to do about it?  Go after them?  What about the tracks?   If I should happen to be able to find them in this storm, I mean, and then it quits before I start back for home.  Looks like it’s really tapering off right now, and by morning when I could start tracking, it may be done altogether.  And what if Shirley’s buddies come back, and you got no good answer for why I’m not around?”

“You know he isn’t going to make it very far.”

“I know nothing of the kind.  Fella ought to have been dead months ago, but he just keeps going.   Don’t see why this ought to be any different, really.”


“Ok, ok, but it’s all a matter of degree, and he never did pay much mind to degree.   Old buzzard’s either breathing or he’s not, and so long as he’s breathing, he don’t know the meaning of giving up.”

“Giving up and giving out can be two different things.”

“Yeah.  But look, Sue, not even I can track folks after a storm like this.  Not much chance of it at all.”

“I don’t think you’ll need to.  I think I know where they’ve gone.”


  1. Anonymous12 July, 2013

    It is a darn shame that you don't have some "Elk WhisperEr" skills... Follow me little Elkie Elk, come on... Here I am...

    And said little one follows you right to your "Barn" and lives a quiet life with corn and other grains to fatten it up....

    Oh, and great Story line, as well


  2. Hey, good idea! So long as wildlife officials wouldn't find out where I was getting my young elk...

    Guess maybe I'll start that endeavor as soon as I get my Mountain Goat Dairy up and running...go up in the cliffs, capture a few mountain goats with little ones and get them into the habit of coming down off the ridge every morning for milking. Do you think there's a market out there for "Pure and Natural Colorado High Altitude Mountain Goat Yogurt?" :D

    Sure there is. Got to be. Sounds like a good business opportunity!