Thursday, August 7, 2014

Part 30



"Planning."

"Planning what?" I asked Jace.

"Everything.  You have to have a plan before you need one.  And for everything you will eventually need a plan."  Out of the blue he shoots a question at me.  "What are the basic elements of survival?"

"Huh?"  When he just looked at me I put my brain in gear and slowly answered, "Water.  Shelter.  Food."

In a really stupid fake voice Jace said, "Very good Grasshopper."

Toddie used to do the same thing and I hated it then too.  "Oh shut up."

He bowed from his waist while sitting on a camp stool.  He looked like a dork but it still made me smile even while it brought back memories I would rather not have thought of.  Getting serious again he said, "There are actually more elements than that but those are the most important.  You can't live without food and water and in many cases you can't live without some kind of shelter either.  The most important of course is water."

I started ticking off what I'd already learned.  "Canteen.  Filter.  Buckets to catch rain and snow.  Something to boil water in.  Bleach.  Those little pill thingies you packed that decontaminate the water.  And at the cabin there is a well house with two hand pumps in it for potable water."

"Know what potable water is?"

I rolled my eyes.  "I'm not a complete know-nothing.  Potable means you can drink it, cook with it, and that sort of thing.  I also know how to prime the well.  I learned how from the people that ran Singing Water.  There was this old guy named Mr. Svenson ... he was some kind of uncle or something like that to the people that ran the place ... and he used to like my questions because it gave him somebody to talk to.  Mom didn't mind because it kept me out of trouble.  Toddie didn't mind because it meant he didn't have to babysit me all the time.  Dad didn't mind because he said I talked so much I ran the fish off."

He snorted and said, "I can see that."

"You wanna cook from here on out?"

"No.  But that's a good enough segue into the next survival element and that is food.  This one is going to be harder."

"No kidding," I said sarcastically.  "First lesson I learned in the city was how important food was and that no one was just going to give it to you for no reason.  You have to fight for your share."

"Uh ... well ... maybe not quite that where you want to go but you are going to have to be real serious about finding and preserving your food so you'll have some on days you don't find any new stuff.  We've got a lot in the truck and trailer but we still have a long ways to go and we are eating up more than we are adding to the supplies.  That's another reason I want to check out that town.  Any little bit that we can add back in is going to make it easier to give you time to figure things out once you get settled in at the cabin."

He was doing that 'you' thing again and it was still just as irritating as the first time he'd done it.  I let it go but just barely; I didn't want to sour his disposition again ... or at least that's what Mom would have called it.  "I know how to fish.  I did it plenty every summer."

"Did you catch anything?"

"Sure."

"Every time?"

"Of course not.  That's not how fishing works."

"Well at least you're honest."

"Smarty pants ... I can also bait my hook and clean my catch.  Dad made me learn how.  He said it wasn't fair to expect him and Mom to do everything if I was going to eat it."

"Well," he said surprised.  "Count me impressed.  Maybe this won't be as hard as I thought it would be."

"Thanks a lot," I told him three-quarters disgusted that he was acting like such a guy.

"No.  Seriously.  This really isn't going to be bad.  I've got more to work with than I thought."

Well, doesn't he know how to flatter a girl?  "Alright already.  We both agree I'm not a complete doofus in the food department.  Guess what?  I can also make and bake bread, garden a real vegetable garden, and clean and cook chickens.  So there."

Slowly he asked, "Seriously?"

"Yeah.  Seriously.  Mom didn't work which meant the only paycheck was the one Dad brought in.  We lived in a little house with a little money.  Mom did what she had to so that Dad wouldn't feel like a little man.  She figured one day I might get married so she taught me the way her mom taught her."

"Wow."

"Yeah.  So what else?" I asked suddenly depressed.

He nodded.  "Well, you can fish but can you hunt?"

"Uh ... no."

"Well, at least I have something to teach you.  There will be time to get into more details but since you've already said you can't hit the broadside of a barn I think we'll start with snares and traps as opposed to a gun or bow.  When we get where we're going I'll look around and see what kind of wild foods there are to forage.  There won't be much this late in the year but I'll try and mark off areas that might be worth something come spring.  Now for the last thing ... shelter."

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