Monday, December 8, 2014

Chapter 70

“Ouch!  Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch!!  Doggone it that smarts!” 

The screen door to the back porch banged open.  “Kay-Lee?!”

I blanched.  “Oh Sawyer, what are you doing home in the middle …”

“Where the hell have you been?!  Come home for lunch.  You’re not home.  Can’t get you on the cell.  Just what the hell?!”

Irritated already and not needing Sawyer to go all overprotective and upset I told him, “Sawyer just take this stupid bucket.  I banged it against my brace again and I think it bruised this time.”

“This time?!  My gawd … I’ve been thinking all kinds of thoughts and …”

“Sawyer … take the bucket before I throw it.”

“Er … “  He took the bucket and his face cleared as soon as he saw what was in it.  “C’mere, let me look.  Yeah, you pinched yourself good this time.  You’re going to have to let me …”

“No.  I am not going to spend money to fix something that isn’t broken.  I just need to find a way to …”

“Kay-Lee …”

“Sawyer …”

From the screen door came the words, “Thank gawd.  I was beginning to get sick of the perfect couple routine.”

“Cindy?!” I squawked stopping my snit with more effort than I really felt like expending. 

“Yeah.  And Davis is in here too.  We’re hiding out so don’t blab.”

I looked at Sawyer who was caught between trying to stay grumpy at my unexpected absence and some kind of hilarity at his cousin’s expense.  “I have a feeling I’m going to regret asking but why are y’all hiding out over here?”

Davis’ voice carried outside to tell me, “Because it is probably the only place Dad won’t think to look.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way Davis but the last person I really want to get on the bad side of is your Dad.”

Sawyer lost the battle and started snickering and then laughing.  I asked, “OK, what’s up?”

Cindy marched out onto the porch and snapped, “Twins. Twins!   And twin girls at that.  Apparently I am only supposed to have boys but oh no … it’s girls … and it’s two of them.  The doc says identical.  Mono something or other.  Davis’ dad wants me to get a second opinion.  Like I’m a car or something that might be able to change out some parts on warranty.”

“I still don’t get it,” I said.  “Sawyer stop laughing and explain why this is supposed to be funny.  There’s always a 50% chance whether you have a girl or a boy or did you really think your uber weird generation of nothing but boys except Delly was actually normal.”

Cindy yelled, “Yes!  Finally.  Someone gets it.”  To me she said, “They are driving me nuts.  And Jeannie has absolutely refused to find out what flavor she and Benedict are having.  Delly isn’t saying though with all the pink stuff she’s been buying it’s pretty obvious, but it kinda doesn’t count because technically she isn’t a Hartford anymore.  And Beth and Docia admitted they were pregnant last night but because of how Davis’ father is acting they now say they aren’t going to let anyone know what flavor they are having either.  Oh no, I’m the only one that gets stuck putting up with this … this … this stuff!”

I shrugged.  “Well here’s Uncle Mark’s chance to prove he isn’t a misogynist.”

Davis yelped, “A what?!”

I smiled.  “Someone that is basically a male chauvinist pig on steroids.  Besides I bet he is just worried.”

“About what?”

Rolling my eyes at Davis’ obtuseness I explained to him, “Same thing you should be worried about Davis and every other male Hartford that has ever lived.  Paybacks.”

“Paybacks for what?”

“For being what you are.  Big stinkers.  Now just imagine what you’re going to have to put up with when your daughters get to the age the boys start noticing them.  And see you already know all the kinds of stuff boys can get up to.  I mean … just imagine.  Only this time it’s you who are the father.”

Davis who had come to stand in the door way got a blank look on his face that slowly turned to horror then terror.  “Oh my gawd.  I … I gotta … c’mon Cindy.  We gotta go talk to Dad.”

“About what?  I thought you said …”

“I know what I said but now I’ve changed my mind.  I … I mean we … us … shotguns and rifles and … and things … and … and oh @#$%.  And there’s … there’s two of ‘em.  C’mon!”

By the time Davis got Cindy loaded in his truck and started driving erratically down the road Sawyer was laughing so hard he almost fell off the porch.

I asked him more than a little on the irritated side, “Are you through yet?  ‘Cause when you are and if you don’t have to leave again for a couple of hours I need you to drive me and the tractor back to where I left my other buckets and baskets before the squirrels get them all.”


I’d estimated a couple of hours just right.  We were gone and back and it was almost time to get the rest of supper finished.  “Hang on Kay-Lee.  I’ll come around and get you down, don’t jump out of the wagon.”

“I hadn’t planned on it,” I told Sawyer tiredly. 

“Leave those buckets.  I’ll carry them into the house in a minute.  You’re limping worse.  You sure it is just a bruise?”

“No.  I think I strained something so no fair chasing me.  It was stupid, and I admit it. So lectures are out too.”

“Well dang, and here I was looking to give you a good lecture all day,” Sawyer said shaking his head sadly.  Then he swooped and picked me up causing me to squawk like one of the chickens.


“I love it when you say my name like that.”

“Oh you’re in a crazy mood, that’s for sure.”

“Yep.  Crazy relief that we don’t have to worry about you being pregnant right now.”

“Well that’s what we already agreed to.  But since Cindy and some of the others obviously didn’t get that particular memo and you usually aren’t like this what else has got you so wound up?”

“Just relief.”  More seriously he added, “There was trouble at the chip factory this morning.”

I pushed until he set me down.  Warily I asked, “What kind of trouble?”

“Turns out a manager over there was siphoning money and when they caught it they shut the factory down without notice.  It was supposed to only be until they got through all of the paperwork on site but they didn’t tell the workers that and … basically they rioted.  Factory sustained a lot of damage and now instead of a day or two it may be weeks or longer before the place reopens and since they aren’t going to lay off anyone no one can get unemployment in the meantime.  That’s several hundred people out of work between one thing and another all of a sudden.  There’s already been some reports that the unemployment office is taking some hits too … rocks through windows, petty crap like that.”

“That’s awful.  I was in town for the other riots and it was just plain scary.  Has anyone been hurt yet?”

“Some, mostly the kind of injuries you get in a brawl, but nothing major has been reported yet … or it hasn’t made it to the radio.  They’ve blacked it out on the tv so I hear, and only reporting from off-site.  Gramps thinks it is going to calm down for a few days, a week at most, and then if it is going to go off it will go off then about like a Roman candle.”

“I … I’m sorry Sawyer.  I just didn’t know and didn’t think … I mean …  I thought I was doing a good thing being out foraging.”

“Hey,” he said giving me a kiss.  “I should have called earlier when I first found out instead of waiting and then running into you having gone out of signal range.  Burt called me when Delly called him and told him to turn on the TV in the office.  Scared the crap out of me, I thought something had happened to her the way he sounded.”

“Is she ok?  She’s been kinda … emotional.”

“Yeah.  I talked to her and right now she sounds better than Burt does.  He took delivery of that stuff yesterday you and him figured up and wanted it out of the warehouse soonest.  He’s locked the place down, pulled the shutters down, and is going to stay home for the next week doing things at the house he’s been putting off.”

“Someone needs to keep an eye on Rissa.  She’s … uh …”

Sawyer snorted.  “She sure is.  Fighting this tooth and nail and majorly hacked off in general.  I don’t think she’ll buck Burt too much though because he took away her plastic, her computer and phone, and said she’d have to earn back her driving lessons and electronics through hard labor and a better attitude than she has been displaying.”

“Holy cow.  Last I saw Burt let her run free with very few restraints.”

“Not quite that bad but close enough.  It ain’t like that now though.”

“What about Mrs. Penny and Mrs. Carmichael?”

“Right now that is Burt’s responsibility and I’m not going to get mixed up in it and tell him his business one way or the other.  Instead how about you tell me what all you found today.”

Relieved he wasn’t hacked off like he had been when I first trudged home I said, “Oh Sawyer, you’ll be so proud!”

“Already am and don’t see how I could get much prouder.  But I’ll give it a try.”

“Don’t be silly,” I told him with a grin and a kiss, nevertheless pleased that he had taken notice of my efforts.

“Well you saw all of those black walnuts and that’s on top of all of those pecans we managed to save from the squirrels.  But guess what is in the cooler by the door?”



“Cra … huh?  We’ve got a cranberry bog on the farm?!”

“Not those kinds of cranberries.  Highbush cranberries.  I don’t know … maybe you call them lingonberries.  The book I was looking at says they are called that too.”

“Hmmm … bright red, collapse your jaw sour tasting berries?”

“Yep, that’s them.  The thing is they aren’t supposed to grow here, not naturally.  I think this is another one of those ‘cultivations’ that Mr. Baffa wrote about the family doing that maybe never took off.”

“Hmph.  Maybe.  Though if he said they didn’t take off are you sure that’s what they are?  I love all these foraging adventures you have but … just like the mushrooms … you gotta be careful.”

“I know that’s what these are.  There was even this little metal plate or marker thing tied to this rusty metal post beside them.  And there is a concrete bench there too beside what looks to me like an overgrown trail of some kind.  I looked it up a couple of months ago to see what they were.  But I didn’t figure anything would ever come of it but … oh my gosh Sawyer, there’s something else too.  The pond!  Oh I wished we would have had time to go over there.”

“Well you’re excited,” he said with a grin.  “What did you find?  Gold?”

“Just about.  Wild rice!  Half the run off pond looks like it is filled with wild rice!”

“Yo, easy on my ears,” he laughed.  “If it gets you that happy I’ll try and swing by there tomorrow while Tommy, Uncle James, and I are out hunting.”

“And don’t you dare laugh.”

“I wouldn’t dare.”

“Sawyer,” I told him warningly which only made him grin.  “Oh fine … but did you know that you can eat ramp bulbs just like garlic?  I thought you had to cook them but apparently you don’t.”

He shook his head at how fast I was jumping from subject to subject.  “Sure do … and it will give you a belly ache if you eat too many but I assume that is what that stink is coming from in the other cooler.”

“It doesn’t stink.  It smells delicious.  I just wish I had figured this out earlier.  I could have chopped some up and put it in sauces and stuff to test it out.”

“Says the woman that thinks garlic and onions are a food group all to themselves.”  He laughed at the tongue I stuck out in his directions.  “I also recognize cattails, sheep sorrel, sumac, parsnips, and burdock roots.  Did I get them right?”

I giggled.  “Yep.  Guess you are getting used to my experiments.”

“I’m getting fat off your experiments,” he said giving me a hug.  “I tell you what though, finding that downed black locust tree was a real stroke of luck.  It makes some fantastic fire wood for long cold nights.  Burns a long time which means I won’t have to get up and feed the fire so much.  I’m going to start on it day after tomorrow if things don’t change and the tree has been down at least a year so we’ll even be able to use it straight away.  But let’s save it for the bedroom fire.”

“Sounds good to me.  Want a Sheep Pie to go with your supper of apple glazed doves?”

“Is that the pie that tastes like a lemon tart?”


“Bring it on Woman.  I still can’t believe you caught those doves with a fishing net.”

“Burt Jr. gave me the idea.  You know he’s a good kid.  He reminds me … well don’t take this the wrong way … but I think he reminds me of what Tommy could have been at that age if there hadn’t been the accident.”

“You aren’t hurting anything by saying it.  Even Uncle James has remarked on how similar they are in some things.  And you won’t even hurt Burt’s feelings if he hears you say it because the first time he heard someone mention it he said that Tommy certainly wasn’t the worst person that Burt Jr. could grow up and be similar to.  Frankly I think he hopes that he has some of Tommy’s construction talent.  Burt is smart and does a lot of things well … but working with a hammer and nails isn’t one that comes natural to him.  I expect he’ll have something bandaged up before the week is over if Delly doesn’t give me a ring to come over and help.”

Remembering all the times I’ve seen Burt with Band-Aids on his fingers I nodded and said, “They must keep the drug store in the green.”

Sawyer thought that was funny and laughed all the way back over to the wagon to start moving my buckets and coolers into the kitchen so I could deal with what I’d foraged.

In addition to the stuff that Sawyer had named I had chestnuts[1] and pecans to go with the black walnuts.  I had found several almond trees along one of the trails and finally figured out what they were and brought a few back to test to see if they were ready to be harvested.  I brought back some sunchokes[2] also but not as many as I had expected.  Sawyer – and I wasn’t going to tell him this because he would feel bad – he had mowed over several patches that I had planned on digging up.  I had tied them off with yarn but I guess he hadn’t seen it from the tractor seat.  I found another whole fence row of muscandines out in the middle of nowhere for no reason that would need to be harvested as soon as I could get some help to do it.  And right as I think I’ve found the last grove of fruit trees that I would need to keep track of for harvesting next year I found several rows of persimmon[3] trees that were pretty close to harvesting.

Sawyer may have been joking about finding gold but honestly, for the first time I feel rich.  I mean really rich.  It isn’t just the house and farm.  It is all the stuff that the farm keeps revealing.  Most of all I feel rich for having someone to share this all with.  Sawyer.  I never thought life could be like this.  Not outside of a storybook.  Not for me.


  1. Kathy thanks for the new chapter, now I have to go find something to munch on with all of your talk of food. :)

  2. I feel so lucky when I find a new chapter if this story.