Saturday, August 12, 2006
Sunday Scribblings - Who else can I still be?
She fed some more logs onto the fire and then sat back in her chair adjusting her shawl around her shoulders and took up her crochet again. Her mind was thinking about the Naming Day that was to be held down in the village for Grace's baby boy. Such a rare occasion these days, babies were certainly, a rich treasure to be cossetted. Grace would have no worries about growing and gathering food with such a precious bundle in her life, people from the whole area would take care to make sure she had what was necessary for its thriving, just as they had with Violet, three years ago.
Suddenly, she heard the front door slam and footsteps running along the tiled hall, then the kitchen door burst open and Josh appeared, 'They've lit the beacon on the hill Great Gran, they've lit the beacon, they've lit the beacon' he chanted circuiting the large kitchen table like a whirling dervish. 'The wooden ships are back, The wooden ships are back.' She smiled, that was good the ships had returned before the winter storms. She wondered what longed for luxuries they had found this time, what they had traded. Perhaps some lemons and oranges from Italy, it was so long since she had tasted an orange. This would be her son's last trading journey, until spring, the winter seas were too treacherous and the boats and crew to valuable to risk in those conditions, not that a storm could not whip up in summer and early autumn, but not with anything like the ferocity of a winter storm. A life spent travelling around Europe had made him ideal in these later years to lead the trading expeditions and seek out produce to barter for and to discover new small enclaves of people.
Her Grand-daughter entered removing the scarf from her head. 'I've just finished thinning the winter vegetables and I've tied up lots onions to hang in the barn.' She moved towards the fire and sat in the opposite chair, 'I'll just sit for a minute, say hello to Dad for me tomorrow, when he arrives after the unloading. I've got to get the pony ready and ride over to Orlando's tonight. I'll be staying with him for the next few days.'
'I heard that,' a voice said, and her other Grand-daughter emerged from the pantry carrying a jar of plums.
'Is he your favourite then Carrie? He is a handsome man I wish he was one of my group.'
'Give over, Fern, but I am sure we could produce a lovely child if we're lucky. Perhaps, I am tempting fate, I have Josh already, but I would so love if he could have a brother or a sister and I would so love to be the Mother at a Naming Day celebration again. Well, I better get going. Bye all.' and she stood up and re-tying the scarf went back out through the door.
'Right Josh, come on get ready for bed, it'll be a long exciting day tomorrow, we'll ride down to the harbour to watch the unloading. Come on up the stairs with your Auntie Fern.'
She was left alone with her thoughts again, warm by the fire. It had been to paraphrase Dickens 'the best of times and the worst of times'. over thirty years ago, she had thought 'Who else can I still be?' Never imaging that six years later there would be such a worldwide catastrophe that nearly all human kind had been wiped out, those left, had left the towns and the cities and sought out lonely isolated spots to try and start over again. There were houses a plenty to live in, she laughed to herself, she could never have afforded to live in this old Georgian manor house overlooking the sea. There were vast tracts of forbidden lands where no one dared to go, nuclear power stations, intact but left alone, cities and numerous dead bodies left behind when people fled unable to do anything but save themselves. Those places would be overgrown now and nature would reign supreme there. Those left led a simple live, simple but she had to admit satisfying and enjoyable. She was the matriarch of her family, with her knowledge of past times. The rules of life had totally changed they lived with the seasons, an earlier age's rustic lifestyle, except the older ones still had the knowledge of the lost technological age but not the means to use it. People did seem happier, you didn't really travel further than your next village, except for the seamen who could cross to Europe and trade with the small groups there. She was happy. she pottered in the garden, cooked and there were still books to read, the only sad thing was that children were a rarity, only four of them in their nearest village, and children were needed for the continuation of their lives. That was why there were no marriages, women of childbearing age were happy to take turns with their three men,they had chosen from those they were courted by as young girls. The lucky ones were those that managed to conceive a child.
Josh, interrupted her thoughts again.'Great Gran, tell me a story about the past, before I go to bed.'
'Well' Josh, let me tell you about a little box on which I could talk to people, I had met all around the world. It was called a laptop computer, and I used to write what you would call a diary on it, by tapping the alphabet squares on one side of the box and seeing the words come up in a frame on the other half of the box, then hitting a key and making it all fly off into cyberspace. I made such good friends, I often think about what happened to them, are there any left.' 'That's what I really miss she thought to herself.'