“They” have finally approved publication of part two of this story. (In case you were wondering, I am now also allowed to confirm that the story is true, though I have been required to alter a couple of minor details for security reasons.)
Morning dawns. Nanette and I have spent a comfortable night in the loft of Grandma June’s cabin. Kirsty and the kids slept “somewhere else”. We wake to the sweet sounds of birds chirping in the trees – no – wait a minute – the sound is actually coming from the box in the corner of the kitchen below. I stumble down the stairs looking for coffee, and find June already hard at work bottling peas. “Pea crop’s been good this year. Have to store the extra in case we get snowed in again. Oh, and don’t mind the noise, I always bring the ducklings in for the night so the wild critters don’t get them.” On queue, four little downy heads pop up from the box in the corner and restart their chirpy little racket.
Our hearty breakfast consists of French toast made with farm eggs and what I hope was bacon, washed down with fresh brewed coffee. Ah, this is the life.
The kids have now emerged, so we move out to the porch to relax and watch them harass/feed the ducklings. Grandma June suggests we take the little ones down to the river. “The water’s cold but they’ll have lots of fun throwing rocks into the water. Just keep an eye out for cougar tracks.” So, five minutes later Kirsty and I are tramping down the track with three little ones (we picked up an extra at the farm), trailed closely by an inquisitive goat named Emily.
Maybe it was all the splashing, but none of us heard John arrive. One minute he wasn’t there, then he was. “Sorry I wasn’t here to meet you last night. I just got back from …. work.” I hadn’t met John before, and don’t know what I was expecting, but this quiet guy with the leather hat, knife on his belt, and throwing axe tucked in behind his back sort of seemed right. John looks at Kai. “Hi there. I hear you’re six. How would you like me to make you a stone axe from one of these river rocks?” And thus begins the day of a lifetime for a six year old boy.
True to his word, John grabs some likely rocks and a strong stick, then proceeds to fashion a pretty serviceable looking axe. I’m secretly relieved that the axe looks fairly blunt, because Jane has already shown me the razor sharp knife John made the other day on the anvil in his weapons workshop. Then – John announces, “Ok kids, first we’ll go and look for edible plants along the river bed, then I’ll teach you to use some survival weapons. Who wants to try the throwing axe?”
As I watch John show the kids how to tell food plants from the ones that turn your insides purple, and then the right and wrong way to load a crossbow, I can’t help but wonder whether our life back in the suburbs isn’t just a little bit dull. Maybe catching imaginary critters on your iPhone isn’t living on the edge after all.