Between Liz’s moose stew and the hard-earned rabbit which Einar roasted over the fire with delightfully aromatic and crisp-edged results, no one was wanting for breakfast that morning. Even little Will got to try out some of his new teeth on bits of roasted rabbit skin and meat. This clearly met with his approval, he hoisting himself to his feet and clinging with one hand to a knot in one of the logs on the back wall while waving a bit of crispy rabbit skin in the other, babbling loudly with all the words he knew, and quite a few that he did not.
Einar understood anyway, joining in Will’s regalement of delight as he swept the little one up in his arms to dance around the fire, the two of them carrying on in their own ways about the wonders of moose stew and roast rabbit, the joys of half-completed shelter in a new place far from the watchful eyes of their pursuers, the wonder of life itself, hopping and stomping circles around the flames until Einar was out of breath and the child was laughing aloud.
Stepping in to catch Einar before he fell, Liz took Will from his arms and watched in delight as the little one whirled himself around in a circle on hands and knees, shaking his head and babble-singing in continued delight, his half-intelligible cacophony of words and sounds finally dissolving in another peal of laughter. Liz scooped him up, set him on the sleeping bag where he would be a bit farther from the fire, should he continue with his wild carryings-on.
“What is with you two? The stew wasn’t that good, was it? Or was it the rabbit?”
“Both, I guess! But he sure was moving like a rabbit, wasn’t he? Hopping and jumping around like that. Ought to be on his feet and running before too long, if he can move that way. Climbing trees, cliffs, swinging from the tops of spruces…”
“Oh, no! I’m not in any great hurry for that time, though I know it’s coming! It will be good to have him able to move on his own, and especially good when he doesn’t have to be carried everywhere anymore, but if he has anything like his father’s sense of adventure, I can’t imagine how I’ll be able to keep up with him!”
“Oh, I’ll help. I’ll take him adventuring with me sometimes, get him out of your hair.”
“That’s what I was afraid of!”
“Aw, come on. My adventures always turn out alright in the end… I’m still here, anyhow.”
Liz sighed. “Yes, you are. I can’t very well dispute that.”
“Nope! Not going to be here for long, though. Not right here, at least, because I’m going out to work on that roof. Want to join me?”
“Sure! It’ll be good to have something more solid over our heads. Will make it seem more like we’re really staying.”
“Will be good not to have that big, glowing globe of parachute material over our heads at night too, now that the storm has cleared out. Too much risk of someone seeing that—from the air if not from land. Think we’re pretty well hidden from land. From the canyon and anywhere people are likely to be, at least. But from the air…was thinking a lot about that last night, thinking we really shouldn’t have any more fires in here in clear weather, until we get that parachute covered.”
“Well, let’s get to it! First step is to take down the parachute I guess, so it doesn’t interfere with putting up the logs?”
“Yes. Can put it back up later, once the roof is done. Will make things brighter in there because of how it’ll reflect the firelight, and trap a good layer of air for insulation, too.”
Working together they took down and rolled the parachute, Liz stashing it in a corner of the shelter and doing her best to put away or at least cover their other possessions in the hopes of preventing them from ending up all covered with aspen bark and snow during the building process. Despite having increasing trouble keeping his legs under him as the morning went on—muscles just kept giving out, dumping him on the ground—Einar cheerfully launched himself into the roof-building project while Liz took care of things in the shelter, sorting the aspens they’d hauled in for that purpose, shortening a few with the ax so they would all be similar lengths and leaning them—sometimes with Liz’s help and sometimes, when she was feeding or otherwise tending to Will, on his own—against the back wall to form the beginnings of the solid roof that would replace the parachute material to cover their shelter.
It took eight of the small aspens to mostly cover the length of the shelter, good solid construction, so far as Einar was concerned, but he wanted to be able to enclose the remaining area made available to them by the back wall, knowing they would all benefit from having a bit more room to move about, especially now that Will was becoming so much more active and needing to explore. Pausing for a long minute with both elbows hooked over the back wall for support, he glanced over their progress so far, watched the spruce tops waving and bending gently in a stray breeze that had not yet found its way down to their level and squinted at the sun where it hung low in the sky, but much higher than it had done a month or two ago. Spring coming. And afternoon, too. No time to stand around taking needless breaks, not if he wanted to haul in the rest of the trees, get them trimmed up, shortened and stacked before dark. Which would be a good thing, for its concealment would allow them to have a fire with a bit more safety, and perhaps he and Liz could even get the parachute-tapestry-insulation put up on the inside that evening, if he got the roof all finished.
Day just about half gone, Einar headed out in search of the additional trees he now saw would be needed to complete the foundation of the roof, Liz staying behind this time to give Will some much-needed time out of her parka hood. Einar was glad for a bit of time to himself, feeling hungry, exhausted and body wanting badly to shut down and drop him in the snow right where he stood, and the presence of his family making it more difficult, somehow, to fight that feeling as the hours wore on. Eyes wide, staring as he worked to muster a bit more energy he remained standing, he did not curl up on the ground but instead set off in search of the trees, two of which he had seen in his earlier wanderings. They would have their roof, and would have it before sunset, if he had anything to do with it.